Newport County 0
by CHRIS PARSONS
ARGYLE’S first meeting with Newport County in 28 years ended honours even in a dour 0-0 draw at Home Park.
In the end, a point each was a fair result with neither side able to muster enough to win the match.
Argyle's best chance fell to the recalled Lewis Alessandra who was unlucky to see his first-half effort well saved by Exiles’ ‘keeper Lenny Pidgeley.
Meanwhile, former Pilgrim Chris Zebroski came closest to scoring for Newport, but hopelessly mis-fired with the goal at his mercy.
Argyle manager John Sheridan promised two things in the build up to game; changes and an attacking mantra. He duly delivered on both.
Sticking with the now trusted 3-5-2 formation, he opted for a switch with the wingbacks; bringing in Andre Blackman to replace Jamie Reckord, and moving Rommy Boco to the right to allow Alessandra to start in the hole.
The orders for the Pilgrims became clear within the opening few minutes – get it forward – and it was Conor Hourihane who benefited from the tactic first when he blazed his shot over from 15 yards having been played in by Luke Young.
Newport’s early moving were similar, opting to launch the ball long and then try and find the feet of Zebroski. Argyel, for the most part, found this easy to deal with but were struggling to keep hold of possession in the middle with the two five man midfields cancelling each other out.
Argyle had their next opportunity just moments before the twenty minute mark when a period of occupation in the Newport half led to Boco delivering a low ball across the six yard box. But, with Alessandra and Reuben Reid ready to pounce, visiting ‘keeper Lenny Pidgeley managed to snuff it out.
The Exiles retaliated a few minutes later when Blackman allowed Ryan Jackson to ghost in on the right but did enough to force the Newport winger to fire into the side-netting.
On the half hour, Argyle created the first genuine goalscoring opportunity of the half when one-two between Reid and Alessandra played the latter in on goal. Lewi’s first touch was superb and set him up for a low shot forcing Pidgeley, who had advanced to just the right distance, into a good low save to his left.
Then, at the other end, Zebroski missed a glorious chance to give his side the lead with a comical air shot when the ball was pulled back to him unmarked in the area by Billy Jones.
After the break, Newport began to step up their offensive efforts and enjoyed a number of speculative long range efforts, none of which even began to trouble Luke McCormick.
Argyle began to find their way back into the game as the half ticked on but like their opponents, could not find a pass, a cross, a shot or even the space to really challenge the Newport back five.
Sheridan introduced Harvey and Gurrieri with 20 minutes remaining and for a few minutes, renewing the Pilgrims vigour enough to win a free-kick in a dangerous position on the left flank.
However, before the kick could be taken, a floodlight failure in the Barn Park/Mayflower side of the ground, forced a long a stoppage in play.
But, when play finally came to be restarted, referee Oliver Langton decided that the incident had taken place ten yards further back up the pitch, much to the disgust of the Argyle players. As a result, Hourihane was forced to cross, rather than shoot, and saw his effort deflect off of the wall.
Trotman was then unlucky to head Young’s corner over the bar before Hamza Bencherif was added to the action.
Eleven minutes of stoppage time were eventually posted with Argyle now permanently camped in their visitors half as the heavy, heavy rain bucked down.
But, for all their huffing and puffing, that illusive winner never came.
23 Luke McCormick; 4 Maxime Blanchard, 16 Neal Trotman, 17 Curtis Nelson; 8 Romuald Boco (27 Andres Gurrieri 71), 6 Conor Hourihane (capt), 7 Lewis Alessandra, 14 Luke Young (20 Hamza Bencherif 85), 3 Andre Blackman; 9 Reuben Reid, 19 Paul Hayes (18 Tyler Harvey 71). Substitutes (not used):
1 Jake Cole, 2 Durrell Berry, 15 Paul Wotton, 28 Jamie Reckord.
Newport County (3-5-2):
1 Lenny Pidgeley; 6 Ismail Yakubu, 5 Tony James, 12 Robbie Willmott; 18 Ryan Jackson, 19 Tom Naylor, 8 Lee Minshull, 7 Adam Chapman (17 Michael Flynn 72), 16 Billy Jones; 11 Chris Zebroski (9 Danny Crow 90), 14 Conor Washington. Substitutes (not used):
2 David Pipe, 23 Christian Jolley, 25 Jamie Stevens (gk), 26 Ellis Redman.
5,689 (404 away).