Close to 500 spectators (including around 150 away supporters) came to Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde to watch the Port’s biggest game for some years. Unfortunately for supporters of the County Town club, it was Wiltshire side Laverstock which recorded their 12th successive win despite unlucky Newport scoring twice and hitting the woodwork over 90 minutes of full-time play.
Laverstock drew first blood after a quarter-of-an-hour when full back Lewis Wakeford poked in an effort across the goal from the far post (0-1).
The Port levelled the scores just after the half hour mark through centre forward Jordan Browne from the middle of the penalty area (1-1).
Towards the end of the 1st half Newport won a series of corners. First, Scott Sampson knocked a Josh Younie corner inches past the left post. Then, Jordan Browne had a header cleared off the line, which fell to Connor Kelly, who volleyed the ball into the back of the Laverstock goal from the edge of the penalty area (2-1).
Half time: Newport IW 2-1 Laverstock & Ford
Newport were forced to make a half time substitution with combative defender Spike Pearce coming on for the injured Liam Triggs.
In the 55th minute Laverstock equalized when Russell Jones knocked the ball past Gary Streeter from 6 yards from the far post after a long throw from the right (2-2).
The Port came close to regaining their lead when Scott Sampson twice had efforts cleared off the line, following which a Joe Craig shot bounced off the crossbar, and Connor Kelly hit the rebound over the goal.
At this point in the game, the Port were dealt a further blow when veteran goalkeeper Gary Streeter was forced off the pitch injured, to be replaced by Joe McCormack.
The Port’s final chances to clinch the game fell to Josh Younie and Connor Kelly in the final 10 minutes of full time, who both shot just past the woodwork.
Full time: Newport IW 2-2 Laverstock & Ford
And so, to extra time. Laverstock scored a scrappy goal shortly after the restart through full back Lewis Wakeford: his 2nd goal of the game (2-3). Newport brought on substitute Jake Wright, but by this time they had run out of steam. Laverstock held onto their slender goal advantage until the end of the 120 minutes, despite playing the final few minutes with 10 men after Dan Jackson was sent off for receiving a 2nd yellow card.
Final score: Newport IW 2-2 Laverstock & Ford (after extra time)
Newport IW: Streeter (McCormack), Hughes, Lamb (Wright), Sampson, McDonough, Triggs (Pearce), Kelly, Younie, Browne, Craig, Butcher Subs not used: Reynolds, Harper
Following the game, Newport co-manager Stewart Shepherd said (via Facebook):
“After a hectic day, I sit here after listening to everyone’s comments from the day of: ‘I would have done this’, ‘maybe this should of happened’, and ‘I wouldn’t have done that’. Well, sorry, but it’s what we did.
“I know maybe it’s not what you all would have done. but we did it, and maybe I might have listened more if you as critics did as much as we did as players and management and volunteers. I’m proud of what we achieved as a team on and of the pitch.”
Stewart can take consolation from his sons’ performances for Pan in which Robbie and Sam lifted the Hampshire Vase, in a game had had watched earlier in the afternoon.
Newport still have a chance of silverware this season when they will play either Cowes Sports or Whitecroft & Barton in the final of the Isle of Wight Senior (Gold) Cup.
Video highlights: Robert Lunn
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