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Match Report: Rothwell FC v Newport Pagnell Town FC - 12/08/22

Coming into the game Rothwell were looking for their first win of the season having lost their opening two matches (away to Lutterworth Town 3-2 and at home to Histon 1-2). Newport were looking to maintain their unbeaten league start to the 2022-23 campaign.

Full Time Result: Rothwell Corinthians 2-3 Newport Pagnell Town

United Counties League, Premier Division South

With temperatures searing into the early 30s °C it was agreed that each half should have two hydration breaks. This neatly divided the game into six roughly equal periods, Newport being in the ascendancy in the first and last period with Rothwell taking charge of the middle two periods, the remaining two were evenly contested.

With their first attack of the game Newport felt they should have had a penalty when Jude O’Connor came rushing from goal, he completely missed the ball leaving Jake Newman in a great position to open the scoring but he was barged off the ball in the process of heading, however, the referee deemed the challenge to be fair as the visitors’ protests fell on deaf ears. The pressure continued when a Ben Ford corner was headed well wide of the mark by Alfie Powell. Then, Christian Smail set up Shane Bush who forced a corner as Newport applied good pressure on the Rothwell goal.

The first drinks break appeared to unsettle Newport and Rothwell grew into the game after the restart, they slowly started to dominate the centre of the park without posing much of a goal threat. The Swans continued to drive down the flanks and, although they provided a lot of balls into the box, the Rothwell defence won virtually every header as their defence stood firm. The visitors were limited to two half chances. First, Ben Shepherd saw his free kick from thirty yards sail harmlessly over. Then a Ford clearance down the left put Newman through on goal, his attempt appeared to be going marginally wide but O’Connor took no chances and pulled off a good save diving low to his right.

Following the second drinks break Rothwell posed a much more potent threat up front, although Newport still created a chance when Adam Pryke played a delicious diagonal cross from the right but Bush could only head wide. Considering the openness of the match it was surprising that when Rothwell took the lead it was with the first attempt on target by either side. Jurelle Philip scored the goal after the Swans failed to clear the danger, the striker pounced on a loose ball before putting a low shot past Martin Conway to give Corinthians a half time lead [1-0, 45+2].

The second half started in much the same fashion that the first had ended. Rothwell were on the front foot and Brandon Beardmore found himself in space on the left flank, putting in a deep cross for Zak Alan, Alan’s ambitious overhead kick went straight into Conway’s arms. Despite Corinthians being in the ascendency Newport also maintained an attacking threat, Ford’s cross was headed over by Bush, this was about as close as the Swans had come to scoring during the game.

Shortly after the third drinks break Philip scored his second with a fine finish, outpacing two defenders before placing the ball past Conway’s reach into the top of the net with a great strike to extend Rothwell’s lead [2-0, 65 mins]. Following the goal Gary Flinn rung the changes bringing on Jake Watkinson, Danny Webb and Kieran Barnes. There was also a change in formation, making the Swans a much more pacy attacking force. The changes paid instant dividends when Watkinson headed in with his first touch of the game and just like their hosts the Swans had scored with their first attempt on target [2-1, 67 mins]. Within two minutes Barnes outpaced his marker down the left flank, pulling the Rothwell defence out of shape in the process. He then found Webb in acres of space, Webb teed the ball up nicely before slamming in the equaliser [2-2, 69 mins].

Almost immediately from the restart following the final hydration break, Cavan King tried his arm with a long punt from thirty-five yards, Conway was behind it all the way to make an easy catch.

Newport stepped up a gear and their attacks gained more intensity. In quick succession, Webb was put clear through only to be foiled by the alert O’Connor, then Watkinson had a good chance but could only manage to head Webb’s cross over the target. The Swans were now applying constant pressure on the Corinthians defence and thought they had the goal they were looking for but Watkinson’s headed effort was disallowed for offside. A couple of minutes later Watkinson found himself through one on one with the keeper but O’Connor was out quickly to clear, unfortunately for him the ball fell straight to the feet of Albie Hall out wide on the left. Hall showed great composure to nonchalantly lob the stranded keeper. The ball came off the underside of the crossbar and the inside of the post before bouncing over the line to give Newport the lead [2-3, 89 mins]. Into added time Panashe Madamba latched on to a through ball and looked in a good position to score a dramatic equaliser for the hosts but he fired his shot marginally over the crossbar.

This ended up being a pulsating match where either side could have conceivably won the three points on offer. Both sets of players and the match officials worked incredibly hard in difficult conditions. With better finishing from the teams the goal tally could easily have been in double figures.

Match Report: Andy Gunn


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