Newport recorded their first win of 2020 in Wessex League One on the artificial surface at Alton against a 2nd placed Alton side who had won their last 8 games.
Alton 1-3 Newport IW
Andy Sampson had almost a full squad to choose from for the visit to north Hampshire, apart from Mark Taylor who, with his partner, had had an addition to their family over the New Year period.
Newport got off to an absolute flyer when, in the 2nd minute, Jordan Browne controlled a ball into the box and drove it past the Alton keeper to put the Port ahead.
If Alton were fired up for this game, their motivation went up several notches as they had been caught cold and were determined to throw everything at Newport to get back into the game.
Alton pressed forward in wave after wave, but a combination of a determined Gary Streeter and some off-target shooting kept their score sheet blank.
In fact, in the first quarter, Newport’s Scott Sampson came closest to scoring for the home side, as Streeter had to tip over a wayward header and a deflected shot pushed away for a corner.
Alton had a very strong spell leading up to the half-hour mark with good efforts just going wide, Streeter making a good save and the crossbar helping out in defence.
There had been one or two niggly tackles in the first half and, in the 44th minute, Lewis Wright received a yellow card for a foul.
Half time: Alton 0-1 Newport IW
In the second half, Alton continued from where they had left off, with a great deal of effort and pressure but without the quality in front of goal to score.
When they did hit the target, Gary Streeter, the big man in goal, was playing a blinder.
Sometimes, the veteran keeper appears unbeatable, and this was certainly the case on Saturday.
He came for and claimed every cross and seemed to be in exactly the right place in every Alton attack.
In the 55th minute, came Streeter’s Pele-Gordon Banks moment.
From a cross, the Alton striker at the back post got over the ball and headed downwards just inside the post.
Incredibly, Streeter got down and pushed it out for a corner.
On 62 minutes, Newport made their first substitution, Jake Wright coming on for the tiring Jared Cousins.
Within a couple of minutes, Streeter got back to business, going full stretch to tip away a free-kick heading for the top corner.
Just coming up to 70 minutes, Newport were to extend their lead. A break out of midfield, involving Jake Wright and Jordan Browne, allowed the striker to hold the ball up, then lay it off to the incoming Jacob Reynolds, who drove the ball past the home keeper to make it 2-0 to the Port.
Shortly after, Newport was caught short down the other end, forcing Gary Streeter to come out of his area and tackle the striker between the box and the corner flag.
The referee blew for a foul, and Alton shouted for a penalty, but the foul was judged to be just outside the box.
On the 80 minute mark, Newport made their second substitution, when Jacob Reynolds came off limping and holding his head.
Reynolds had had another good game, having been involved in everything and revelling in his defensive midfield role.
Scott Barron came on straight into midfield.
With five minutes left on the clock, there was uproar.
A Newport player committed a foul just outside the penalty area, the referee blew his whistle and, within half a second, an Alton player had driven the loose ball through the crowded penalty area and into the net.
The referee was apologetic, but he had blown for the foul.
Gary Streeter resumed normal service, keeping out everything that Alton could throw at him in the final few minutes of the game.
Then, in injury time, the referee awarded Alton a penalty.
An Alton striker went down under a challenge in the box, and the referee pointed straight to the spot.
Phil Moore scored from the spot, hitting the ball down the middle as Streeter dived to his right. 2-1 to the Port.
Within a minute of the restart, Newport lost then regained the ball from midfield and then broke through the Alton defence.
Lewis Wright took the ball forward and hit a screamer from 25 yards that flew into the net and sealed the win for the Port.
After the game, almost everyone on the pitch and in the dugouts went up to Gary Streeter to congratulate him on his man-of-the-match performance.
It had been touch and go as to whether he would play, as he had been ill in bed with flu over the New Year period.
Reserve keeper, Ben Gearing, was on the bench in case Streeter hadn’t felt well enough to play.
Judging by his performance, the veteran keeper was obviously fit enough, although his goalkeeping heroics may leave him with some aches and pains for a couple of days.
Full time: Alton 1 Newport 3
Newport: Streeter, Hughes, Lamb, Reynolds (Barron), McDonough, Sampson, Kelly, Pearce, Cousins (J Wright), Browne, L Wright. Unused subs, Gearing, Craig.
The impressive win against Alton leaves Newport in 8th position, in Wessex League one, over 13 points behind the teams in the promotion places, but with 3 games in hand.
On Saturday, 11th January, the Port faces New Milton Town at Beatrice Avenue.
It was a good day all round for Newport IW, as the reserve team reached the last 8 of the Hampshire Vase with a 3-2 win at home against Compton Reserves.
The Port raced into a 3-0 lead, with goals from Harry Cheek, Reece Wren and Jayden Yates in the first 20 minutes.
Compton then pulled one back before half time.
A much tighter second half saw Compton score another goal, but the Port reserves held on for a 3-2 win and went through to the Quarter Finals.