Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Newport County

Hednesford Town

Airdrie (24)

(0) 0

(1) 1



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Andy Brownrigg



Cambridge City (H) 6.4.02

The Pitmen give their survival hopes a huge shot in the arm this evening as they complete the rarest of things this season - a league double over Newport County at Spytty Park

Saturday's late, late show from Moor Green had once again stunted the Pitmen's progress as their two-game winning run was brought to a shuddering halt thanks to Jae Martin's late winner. Manager Kenny Hibbitt made just the one change to the side that had started the weekend's game at Keys Park with Wayne Thomas coming in at right-back for his debut to replace Stuart Lake, who had suffered. slight hamstring pull against the Moors

Newport returned to Spytty Park off the back of a 2-0 win at Havant & Waterlooville at the weekend to lift them back into ninth place in the Dr Martens League table. Manager Tim Harris made two changes to his side for tonight's game as he was without the influential Pat Mountain in goal, who was replaced by former Premier League goalkeeper Jon Hallworth after suffering an injury before the game. The other personnel change came in midfield with Michael Fowler in for Nathan Davies

The Pitmen were straight into their stride on the wide-open playing surface of the Spytty Park, situated inside an athletics stadium just on the outskirts of the town. In the fifth minute of the game, a corner kick was cleared by Newport as far as Matt Gardiner, whose recycled cross into the Newport penalty area found it's way through to fellow centre-back Mark Haran, who turned the ball over the crossbar from eight yards out

Three minutes later, Neil Davis did well to get goal side of Billy Clark as he raced onto a Richard Lucas cross-field pass, only to scuff his shot well wide of Hallworth's goal and send the ball bouncing down the running track

In the thirteenth minute, another ball in from Lucas, this time from a free-kick, was flicked on by Andy Brownrigg and into the path of Wale-Kwik Ajet, only for the youngster to lose possession at the crucial point and allow Clarke to steal the ball away from goal

Newport had spent most of the opening quarter of the game inside their own half, struggling to build any attacks of substance against a Hednesford side playing on the front foot in the early stages of the game. The Exiles' first sight at goal came through Martin Paul in the twentieth minute as he was allowed to advance on the Hednesford goal unchallenged before striking a firm shot at goal from twenty-five yards out that was held by Mark Gayle

The Pitmen's early pressure and domination of territory paid off four minutes later as they scored what was to prove to be the winner through winger Stewart Airdrie; Lucas's cross from the left wing was knocked down by Davis into the path of Airdrie, who took a touch just inside the Newport penalty area before delightfully lobbing Hallworth with a clever lofted shot over the head of the veteran stopper and into the far corner of the net

Davis was denied a chance to extend the Pitmen's lead on the half-hour mark as his run through the centre of the Newport defence to meet a Brownrigg through ball was adjudged to have been started in an offside position

Brownrigg was booked for the visitors on thirty-two minutes as he was shown a yellow card by referee Mr Hannis for a late and mistimed challenge on Matthew Rose in midfield

Three minutes later, a clever reverse pass from Davis played his strike partner Ajet in on goal, only for a late offside flag on the main stand side to deny the forward a clear shot at goal

Ajet was left a frustrated figure once again sixty seconds later as he was caught offside once again as he was played clean through on goal by a slide-rule pass from Derek Rae

Newport skipper Jeff Eckhardt headed over the crossbar for the hosts on forty minutes, meeting a cross from Fowler full-on with his forehead but missing the target by a matter of inches

With half-time edging closer, the Pitmen broke quickly down the right through Davis, who turned provider in slipping the ball to Thomas, whose shot was cleared by the recovering Darren Robison at his far post

In the final minute of added time, the Pitmen really should have doubled their lead going into the half-time break as the excellent Brownrigg played a through ball into the path of the marauding Airdrie, whose first-time effort from fully thirty-five yards came back off the crossbar with Hallworth beaten all ends up

Despite a significant wind in their faces at the start of the second half, the Pitmen stayed largely in control of the game at the start of the second period. Rae exchanged passes with Ajet on forty-eight minutes but lifted his ambitious long-range effort over the crossbar from thirty yards out

Newport's Darren Ryan had the home side's first chance of the second half on fifty-three minutes as he broke through the flimsy Hednesford offside trap to get on the end of a Rose pass, only for his shot to lack any power and Gayle made a simple save

Rae and Brownrigg linked up well in midfield for the Pitmen on fifty-seven minutes to play Davis in on goal, only for a late, late offside flag to once again pull the former Walsall man back as he shaped to shoot

Three minutes later, Eckhardt was on hand to hack the ball clear for the Exiles promptly as Airdrie's free-kick bounced around in the Newport penalty area before Lee Barrow turned the ball goalwards, prompting Eckhardt to clear his lines

Davis finally got a tight offside call go his way on sixty-four minutes as Rae's pass found Davis inside the Newport penalty area, in behind the home defenders who were claiming offside once more. He took the ball around Hallworth and turned the ball goalwards, only for the former Cardiff stopper to recover well and make an excellent block at his near post

Wayne Thomas lifted another angled effort just over the crossbar three minutes later, before Eckhardt forced Gayle into a regulation save at his near post on seventy minutes as he headed a Ryan cross goalwards


Robison made a run down the right flank for the hosts with seventeen minutes remaining and skipped past Lucas before crossing to the near post, where Paul stabbed an effort just wide of the target as Gardiner did well to put him off

Fowler went close to equalising for the Exiles on seventy-eight minutes as he somehow turned a close-range shot wide of goal with the net gaping after Rose had picked him out with a cross

The Pitmen started to sink further and further into their own third of the pitch as the game entered it's final ten minutes as Newport turned the screw in search of an equaliser. Eckhardt was causing further issues with his height and presence, knocking down a cross from Ryan back across the Hednesford six-yard box on eight-three minutes that was eventually cleared by the covering Airdrie

A timely challenge from Barrow denied Paul a shot on goal a minute later, sliding in to divert the striker's shot away from Gayle's goal and behind for a corner kick


The Pitmen could have wrapped up the points with four minutes remaining as a quick counter-attack saw Ajet sent away from the Newport defence down the right flank. Robison did well to come across the pitch and force the striker wide of goal, culminating in Ajet drilling his shot wide of the far post with a weakly-struck cross-shot

Newport spent the final minutes of the game camped in the Hednesford half as they looked to force home a leveller; Paul's low shot on eighty-eight minutes was blocked by Brownrigg, whilst substitute Steve Cowe was wasteful as he blasted a good chance wide of goal from twelve yards out

In added time, a brace of corner kicks from Newport saw the ball eventually fall at the feet of Rose, whose low shot was easily picked up by a grateful Gayle at his near post

The Pitmen did well to hold on to their advantage and record a timely and welcome league double over their hosts in the process. The win lifts Hibbitt's men up to sixteenth place in the league table as tonight's round of games saw defeats for Salisbury City, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport (Isle of Wight) and Bath City. The Pitmen will be looking to continue their recent upturn in form at the weekend as they travel to another side struggling towards the foot of the table in the form of Cambridge City

Newport County: Hallworth, Robison, Benton, Clark, A. Thomas, Fowler (James 80), Rose, Walker (Cowe 63), Eckhardt ©, Paul, Ryan      Subs Unused: Stevenson

Hednesford Town: Gayle, W. Thomas, Lucas, Haran ©, Gardiner, Barrow, Brownrigg , Rae, Davis, Ajet, Airdrie      Sub Unused: Simpson, Craven, Francis