Newport County 1-1 Swindon Town: The Rodney Penalty Parade

Scott Keith reports from a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy 1st Round trip to Newport County and a very successful penalty shootout…

It was perhaps a night where the subs bench was the most widely anticipated event of the evening, and one where anyone who made the joke about “bringing their boots” was best quickly restrained with some form of masking tape.

But it was a win (of sorts) and the subsequent transfer activity eased, to some extent, the anxiety about the fact that it was just three substitutes available – two teenagers and ‘keeper Lawrence Vigouroux.

Whether we would have seen some of the new faces available anyway is a moot point. Brad Barry and James Brophy made their first starts at full back, allowing Jordan Turnbull back into central defence and Kevin Stewart to midfield. The forward line, with Michael Smith present physically (but absent presumably mentally in Barnsley’s cobbled streets) consisted of Will Randall and Lee Marshall wide, with Fabian Robert in the centre.

Tom Smith and Ellis Iandolo trotted to the bench to join Vigoroux.

To be fair, Newport weren’t in much better condition. They threw out a fairly youthful side, missing lots of last year’s team that got them into the League Two top 10. You wish them well (or I do) for what looks like a scramble to keep that hard reclaimed League status.

Swindon settled in possession and had the first chance of note when Randall cut across the area to shoot wide.

Then, the goal. Marshall was in possession, wide right, feeding the ball to Drissa Traore on the edge of the box. He cushioned a pass into the path of Anton Rodgers, as good as presenting him with a dead ball to hit. We now have a good idea of what happens to those, especially 20-yards out. Rodgers picked out the top corner for a quite beautiful strike.

Then, not a lot. The team kept possession pretty comfortably, but either consciously chose to do so at a relaxed tempo to wear out Newport, or they lacked a little edge without Nathan Byrne, as the first half pretty much rolled out on without further drama. The home side were distinctly unthreatening.

The second half did see a couple more chances. Rodgers had a free kicked push wide by a sprawling Newport ‘keeper Rhys Taylor and Fabian Robert broke into the box to have his shot pushed away. There was a bit more willing about County in the second half, but it felt like they were relying on a mistake to score.

They almost got one from a short pass back to goal that Lennell John-Lewis intercepted. Jordan Turnbull fouled him on the edge of the D, and Scott Barrow produced a pretty hapless free-kick. Then that equaliser – a long diagonal aimed towards Seth Twumasi on the right, with Brophy marking him. Brophy, maybe struggling positionally, slipped in trying to cover, and Twumasi fed in Aaron Collins to score.

Tom Smith shot narrowly over after a good move, Brophy collapsed in the box -ruled as a dive when it looked more to be lost footing – and there was also Iandolo’s debut, but we proceeded to penalties.

A magnificent sequence of star jumps, pointing to each corner and general tomfoolery from Ty Belford greeting Newport’s first penalty taker Mark Byrne. He responded by being totally non-plussed and scoring. And that was how it went generally. No keeper got near the first 12 spot kicks. Brophy stepping up in the first five, as did Branco, with Barry also keeping Swindon going in the sudden death stage.

Penalty 13 (etc etc), saw Belford save Collins not too inspiring effort, leaving Will Randall to take the pressure/accept the glory.

That he did, and Town were able to escape into the next round despite the (somewhat self-induced) anarchy that deadline day had brought to the squad.

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