In the first of two games against teams from the top two Marcus Law welcomed Marcus Kelly back to face second placed Newport County AFC, while Lee Hendrie and Jen Paul Marna took places on the bench while Richard Tait sat out the third of his three match ban.
After 90s hit ‘pump up the volume' had retreated from the tannoy The Lambs got the match underway, kicking towards the Castle End. Kelly showed a couple of good first time touches as both sides fought to keep possession for anything more than a few passes in what looked initially like it would be a hard fought encounter. A foul on the Lambs number 3 (Kelly) brought a free kick in the left channel on 5 and Till sent the ball to the far post for Marshall to head down into the danger area, but he was floored by the ball from Pipe's clearance. Courtney blocked a Swallow shot from the left of the box to concede a corner on 9 and it was eventually cleared away from the penalty box after Thomson and Swallow had half chances smothered. When the ball came in from the right on 11 and Crow met it past the far post with a hefty finish and Breeden beaten, Dempster was well positioned to clear the effort off the line. From then, the Lambs worked hard to keep the ball in the Newport half but when Taylor's cross form the left was taken by Pidgeley the visitors were able to counter and Breeden managed to get down to smother a low cross from the right. Cunnington slipped the ball through the right wing to Till on 18 and his cross was inviting for Kelly, but his attempted overhead didn't come off. The referee was having none of the fall to the floor of Newport's leading scorer O'Connor on 19 when he tried to get past Courtney in the box, and Dempster was on hand again on 21 to clear Swallow's cross box shot from the left off the line with Breeden stuck at his near post. At the other end, Courtney's long through was met well by the head of Wright at the near post but it went over the target. County won a corner on each side around 23 and on 24 Baldock was booked for a challenge on Swallow as the visiting midfielder tried to cut past him by the right corner flag. On 26 Till cut the ball back from the right to Taylor on the edge of the area but the Lambs defender's touch was not clean and his shot screwed away from goal rather than at it. Minshull then picked up a booking for going into the back of Cunnington on the halfway line which left the striker prostrate on the floor and from the ensuing play, Dempster's ball into the box was headed behind for a corner, by the clubhouse, which Till took but Newport strongly defended. On 31, Kelly headed behind for a corner on the left and Crow, with his back to goal, tried a close range over head kick which Breeden managed to palm up and away to safety. Breeden was called in to action again on 34 when a long throw was headed towards the target by Minshull and the Lambs keeper dived full length to his left to make the best of a good but relatively straight forward catch. The Lambs best chance of the half came on 44 when Kelly curled a ball in to the box and Cunnington rose to head at goal from 8 yards but Pidgeley was equal to the effort that would have been destined for the top left corner had the keeper not been able to catch it quite easily. Till then caused Newport to defend with a low ball from the right, which Cunnington fired towards goal only to see Sandell boot it away as the home faithful started to rise in anticipation. In the four minutes added time and at the other end Sandell unleashed a fine shot from 25 yards which Breeden tipped over for a corner and then punched clear. A similar save from a similar shot from Minshull brought another corner on the opposite side but this time Yakubu's header inside the far post flew into the back of the net to give the visitors the lead (0-1, 45 mins). Cunnington finished the half with a long range strike which flew agonisingly wide of the mark.
HT: Tamworth 01 Newport County
Newport restarted proceedings, and on 50 O'Connor just failed to put the finishing touch to a through ball from Crow, lifting it over the bar from 12 yards and winning a corner in the next move which Breeden rose to catch. The Lambs broke quickly and Till nipped the ball off Sandell as he tried a back pass to Pidgeley but went too wide to be able to put it anywhere near the target. Pipe was booked for a challenge which saw Cunnington tumble over the half way line on 54 while Dempster bumped Swallow off the ball on 57 and escaped any decision against him. After a break in play where Pipe received treatment and had to leave the field to swap his shirt Lee Hendrie took to the field. And within a minute Till crossed from the left and Cunnington rose high before powering his header into the far corner to level the tie with his eleventh of the season (1-1, 61 mins) However, Newport countered from the restart and Minshull's run and pass was blocked but the ball fell invitingly for O'Connor who finished from a yard out with shouts for offside by the home faithful going unrewarded. (1-2, 63 mins) O'Connor had to leave the field on a stretcher on 69 after falling to the floor with a problem with his left leg which initially looked like cramp but ultimately prevented the striker from walking. Play resumed with Crow screwing a shot wide of the left hand post from the edge of the area and Kerry stroked a right footed shot just wide of the right hand post on 75 from around 20 yards out. Cunnington couldn't keep his shot down past the far post following good play down the left and a cross from Till on 78 and a freekick was awarded on 79 25 yards out which Hendrie and Cunnington both lined up and the former struck the underside of the bar and keeper but Yakubu cleared away for a corner on the left which Pidgeley punched away. Till's freekick into the box from 25 yards out on 82 caused some problems for the County defence and another dead ball from the right by Taylor kept the ball in the final third but Pidgeley was equal to Wright's skimmed header. Hendrie picked up a booking on 87 for a dangerous challenge inside the middle of the Lambs half and from it Courtney headed behind for a corner on the left which Thomson was able to take twice following Taylor's powerfully headed clearance. The second time, Yakubu brought a fine stop from Breeden with a close range header. The earlier stoppage for O'Connor added a large proportion to the seven minutes of added time that were shown at the end of the game and Lambs penalty claims were waved away. Meanwhile Crow beat the offside trap to somehow miss a one on one against Breeden who pushed the ball away one handed for a corner which came to nothing. Pidgeley almost made a pigs ear of a routine stop from Wright's half volley with a minute of added time remaining, but recovered to smother the ball in the last chance of the game.
Tony BREEDEN (GK), Marcus KELLY (Charlie COLLINS 71), George BALDOCK (Lee HENDRIE 60), Tom MARSHALL (c), Adam CUNNINGTON, Tommy WRIGHT, Lloyd KERRY, Duane COURTNEY, Peter TILL (Jean-Paul MARNA 87), John DEMPSTER, Greg TAYLOR Subs: Connor GUDGER, Dale BELFORD (GK)
Newport County Team:
Lenny PIDGELEY (GK), David PIPE (c), Max PORTER, Tony JAMES, Ismail YAKUBU, Aaron O'CONNOR (Jefferson LOUIS 71), Lee MINSHULL (Michael FLYNN 85), Danny CROW, Ben SWALLOW, Andy SANDELL, Jake THOMSON Subs: Andrew HUGHES, Ryan CHARLES, Joe PERRY