End Of Contract
Blues win dramatic Boxing Day clash.
Pompey ensured there was plenty of festive cheer in a Christmas cracker of a contest at Newport.
It looked like the Blues would be as miserable as Scrooge before a visit from the spirits as the hosts roared into a two-goal advantage.
Danny Rose then provided a spark of hope, only for it to be snuffed out again when Kal Naismith missed from the spot.
But Enda Stevens drew the Blues level with his first goal for the club before Naismith grabbed a late winner.
Paul Cook made two changes from the side that drew with Hartlepool before Christmas.
Naismith and Noel Hunt were brought in for Kyle Bennett and Gary Roberts, as Pompey switched to a 4-4-2 system.
A more direct approach was adopted to cope with the poor surface and physicality of the opposition.
But it was the Welsh hosts who settled quickest and David Forde had to deal with a couple of dangerous balls into the box.
The Blues created most of the half’s clear-cut chances, however, and Michael Smith should have found the target from close range following good work from Naismith and Stevens.
Joe Day then had to come tearing from his box to beat Hunt to an under-hit back-pass and sweep the ball to safety.
But the County keeper lost the same race moments later, with the striker not quite able to guide his looping header on target.
Instead it was Newport who broke the deadlock on 25 minutes when Josh Sheehan curled a fine free-kick over the wall and past Forde’s desperate dive.
There was almost an immediate equaliser, but after Day failed to hold Naismith’s long-range effort, Rose’s follow-up was hacked from the line by Jennison Myrie-Williams.
Scot Bennett then attempted to clear a low cross from Stevens and only just avoided sending the ball into his own net.
And it was Christian Burgess who was next to go close on 38 minutes when a Naismith free-kick was not properly cleared.
The centre-back did well to turn amidst a host of amber-shirted bodies, but his shot fizzed narrowly past the post.
Stevens then almost opened his Blues account just before the break with a deflected strike that Bennett just about stopped from sneaking inside the post.
Newport County 1
There was another opportunity for Smith early in the second half when Michael Doyle sent a ball into the box from deep, but the striker was unable to make a clean connection.
Newport were proving more clinical, though, and Rhys Healey doubled their advantage from close range after Forde could only parry a curling effort from Sheehan.
But the Blues soon hit back to reduce the deficit, with Gareth Evans getting free down the right and cutting the ball back for ROSE to slot home.
It was the visitors, unsurprisingly, looking the more threatening side by this point and Day was fortunate to parry Evans’ shot to safety, with Smith and Hunt both waiting to pounce.
But they were given an excellent opportunity to level just past the hour mark when Jazzi Barnum-Bobb pushed Naismith in the box and referee Charles Breakspear pointed to the spot.
It was Naismith who stepped up to take the penalty, only to blast the ball over the bar and turn the party in the away end sour.
The Scottish winger tried to make amends with an ambitious effort from long-range, but there was not quite enough dip on his shot.
Cook threw on an extra striker on 74 minutes as Pompey chased an equaliser, with Carl Baker making way for Conor Chaplin.
It was Naismith who was next to threaten, though, surging half the length of the pitch before drawing a save from Day.
But there was an unlikely provider of Pompey’s equaliser on 80 minutes, as STEVENS latched onto Rose’s pass and lashed home a neat finish.
And Evans was fuming that they did not have the chance to score again soon after, with Breakspear deciding that the right-back had not been pushed in the box.
The winning goal did arrive late on – even if there was a bit of confusion about who scored it.
NAISMITH whipped in a free-kick from wide on the right and it was unclear whether anyone else got a touch as the ball flew into the net.
Not that it mattered to the horde of travelling fans, who celebrated wildly – as did the players and those on the bench.
Newport (3-5-1-1): Day; Meite (Green 90), Jones, Bennett (c); Barnum-Bobb, Tozer (Randall 90), Owen-Evans (Jackson 85), Rigg, Myrie-Williams; Sheehan; Healey
Goals: Sheehan 25, Healey 51
Booked: Healey, Tozer, Barnum-Bobb
Subs not used: Bittner, Bignot, O’Hanlon, Butler
Pompey (4-4-2): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Baker (Chaplin 74), Rose, Doyle (c), Naismith; Hunt (Linganzi 89), Smith
Goals: Rose 56, Stevens 80, Naismith 87
Booked: Burgess, Hunt
Subs not used: O’Brien, Buxton, Whatmough, Lalkovic, Bennett
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Attendance: 3,714 (729 Pompey fans)
Jayden Stockley scored deep into stoppage-time to complete a remarkable comeback and secure a point for Pompey against Morecambe.
The visitors rocked their hosts with first half goals from Tom Barkhuizen, Alan Goodall and Andy Fleming.
But a couple of fine Gary Roberts strikes either side of the interval brought the Blues right back into the game.
Enda Stevens’ dismissal for two bookable offences failed to halt their attacking intent as Pompey poured forward at every opportunity.
And their perseverance was rewarded in the fifth minute of stoppage-time when Stockley dived to head home the equaliser.
Paul Cook named an unchanged side, as he elected to use the same starting 11 for a fourth successive league match.
That meant Ben Davies – who went off at Crawley during the week – had sufficiently recovered from a hamstring injury to take his place at right-back.
Pompey looked to attack straight from kick-off and a neat move ended with Nigel Atangana firing over in the opening seconds.
Stevens then skipped into the box before Adam Dugdale came across to thwart him, before Matt Tubbs could not quite guide a corner on target.
The hosts were dominating possession yet again, but were caught with a counter-attacking sucker punch on 11 minutes.
Michael Doyle slipped and Davies’ clearance ricocheted into Barkhuizen’s path, with the wide-man smashing a shot past the helpless Brian Murphy.
The goal seemed to rock the Blues and a period of sluggish play ensued, with Cook’s men guilty of far too many misplaced passes.
However, Pompey started to move through the gears again and Roberts guided Stevens’ pass narrowly past the post.
But the Shrimps soon doubled their advantage after Christian Burgess had been booked for a foul on Aaron Wildig.
A diving Murphy was able to palm Jamie Devitt’s free-kick behind, but the Morecambe midfielder’s resulting corner was headed home by Goodall.
Wildig then tried to catch Murphy out with a neat chip that dipped onto the crossbar before the same played dragged a shot wide.
Shrimps keeper Barry Roche was booked for taking too long over a goal-kick on 36 minutes, although the visitors arguably did not need to waste time as they continued to open the Blues up on the break.
And they soon went three goals ahead when Fleming arrived at the far post to steer home Devitt’s cross.
Pompey looked all at sea, but there was a glimmer of hope late in the half when ROBERTS was brought down on the edge of the box and picked himself up to curl home an impressive free-kick.
Davies had a chance for the Blues soon after the restart, with a close-range volley that hit Dugdale in the face and flew safe.
There was then danger at the other end when Matt Clarke under-hit a pass, but the teenage centre-back recovered well to win the ball back.
And Pompey were soon back on the attack and Tubbs rose to glance Kyle Bennett’s cross inches wide, although it would not have counted as the linesman’s flag was raised.
The hosts were not having any trouble getting hold of the ball, but Roche was not being overly tested between the sticks.
They did reduce the deficit further thanks to another moments of magic from ROBERTS on 65 minutes, however.
The midfielder picked the ball up and deceived a couple of defenders with his footwork before curling a shot into the bottom corner.
Cook freshened up his front line with a substitution on 70 minutes, as Tubbs made way for aStockley.
But the Blues were soon reduced to 10 men when Stevens caught Aaron McGowan and was shown his second yellow card – and a subsequent red – by referee Roger East.
Adam Webster was brought on for Davies as Pompey switched to playing with three central defenders.
They were leaving plenty of men forward, safe in the knowledge that Morecambe were happy to sit back and soak up pressure.
Cook made his final change on 80 minutes as Adam McGurk replaced Gareth Evans and immediately received a chance to level when he rose to head Bennett’s cross narrowly wide.
Bennet then had an opportunity of his own, cutting inside and drilling in a shot that Roche did well to punch clear.
Morecambe were hanging on and Roche pushed Clarke’s header over before keeping out a Stockley drive.
And Webster missed a great opportunity after being left unchallenged in the box, only to head over.
The defender then saw his penalty claims for a handball waved away as Pompey continued to pour forward.
And just when it looked like time would run out on them, Webster delivered a perfect cross for STOCKLEY to convert with a diving header.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies (Webster 74), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Atangana, Doyle (c); Evans (McGurk 79), Roberts, Bennett; Tubbs (Stockley 70)
Goals: Roberts 42, 65, Stockley 90+5
Sent off: Stevens (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: Jones, Haunstrup, Hollands, Chaplin
Morecambe (4-2-3-1): Roche; Beeley (c), Dugdale, Parrish, Wilson; Fleming, Goodall (Kenyon 47); Devitt, Wildig, Barkhuizen (Molyneux 56); Miller (McGowan 68)
Goals: Barkhuizen 11, Goodall 25, Fleming 38
Booked: Fleming, Roche, Beeley, Wildig
Subs not used: Thompson, Bailey, Ryan, Mullin
Referee: Roger East
Attendance: 16,052 (69 away fans)