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Newport match report
21 March 2015 18:06 Post ID: #71165
Another blank in front of goal for Argyle, the third on the trot but despite a stale 0-0 draw against Newport our play-off chances actually improved and we moved up one place.

The first half was a bore-fest, probably the dullest 45 minutes seen at Home Park this season but we showed more energy for the second half and should have at least scored one goal and also earn a penalty.

Manager John Sheridan surprisingly kept faith with the same starting 11 that were deservedly beaten at Dagenham, so no place for the improving Jason Banton.

Newport peppered our penalty area with several corners during the first five minutes, obviously they know the now infamous stat we have and realise an early goal would give them at least a draw.
We weathered the storm and slowly got into the game, although it became a niggly game with a lot of free kicks.
Most of our attacks fizzled out because the attacking player would stop and pass the ball backwards and all momentum was lost much to the frustration of the fans. No player seemed willing to take the game by the scruff of the neck and show some urgency.
A typical example would be Tarieq Holmes-Dennis running down the wing with space in front of him, he would stop, pass the ball back to Peter Hartley who would either hit it long to Reuben Reid or pass into the midfield where the ball would be lost against the stronger and more determined Newport players.
The safe ball is always a sign of a team lacking in confidence.

Newport were a strong team and some of the tackles bordered on foul play, they would stretch to make tackles with their studs showing and fly into challenges, the ref was fussy with other aspects of the game but not the tackles made by the Newport players.

The second half was a lot better, we finally had some urgency in our play and Bobby Reid saw a lot of the ball. The wing-backs were now an option and got forward at every opportunity.

Reuben broke through the Newport defence but was held back, he kept battling away and won the ball, beat the keeper and was just about to shoot into an empty net when the ref awarded a foul against Argyle. Home Park erupted, the foul should have been given the other way and Argyle awarded a penalty.

The ref saw a lot of things that would usually be let go and then blow for a foul when nothing appeared to have happened.

It looked like a poor refereeing decision would galvanise the players and fans because for five minutes after that decision against Reid we took the game to Newport and looked to be the only winners.

Bobby Reid pushed forward and received a superb through ball and with only the keeper to beat his shot was saved by the feet of the Newport keeper Joe Day and bounced outside of the post for a corner. So close.

The fans were now willing for the subs to come on but Sheridan stood firm until late in the game when he brought on Dom Blizzard and Banton, their was a mix-up with the fourth official and initially the wrong players were replaced.

Banton had a chance but his effort was saved, with Argyle pushing forward we were left exposed at the back and there was a couple of occasions when Newport broke away and could have scored.

Overall, if only we played for the whole 90 minutes instead of just the second 45 we would have won this game.

At a critical point of the season the team is firing blanks, Reuben and Lewis Alessandra are completely out of form, not only in scoring but also in their general contribution to the team, although to be fair Reid is carrying an injury.

Olly Lee was poor and was a passenger throughout the game, it was a surprise that he started the game and an even bigger surprise that he came out for the second half. We have better players on the bench.

There was a feeling that Sheridan was being stubborn and wanted his first choice 11 to win the game, hence no changes to the team and the decision to make the subs so late.

Too many times the ball was given away, passes went astray and there was no cohesion in the team, that said with a bit more luck and a different referee we would have won this game.

Anthony O'Connor had another disappointing game, he's not the defensive midfield Superman that we saw a few weeks ago.
Bobby Reid came alive for the second half, yet again, he at least pushed forward although we need 90 minutes from him. There must be another player who can take the set-pieces better than Reid? His free-kicks and corners haven't worked all season.

Carl McHugh had another good game, he's our rock, Curtis Nelson has gone backwards since Christmas, he's now a steady Eddy rather than the player we saw at the start of the season who looked League One (at least) class.
Hartley had another in and out game.

How to start scoring again? Banton for Alessandra is one option, another is to change the formation and go for 4-4-2 and have proper wide players.

The police presence was overkill, an helicopter, vans and cars everywhere and dogs, there seemed more police at the game than Newport fans.

Man of the match B Reid.

McCormick 6, Nelson 6, McHugh 7, Hartley 5, Mellor 6, O'Connor 5, B Reid 7, Lee 4, Holmes-Dennis 7, Alessandra 5, B Reid 6, Banton 7, Blizzard 5.
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