The Port made two changes to the starting line-up that had beaten Baffins Milton Rovers 4-3 in midweek. Experienced captain, Martin McDonough, returned in place of Spike Pearce in central defence, and Jake Wright took the place of Jacob Reynolds in midfield.
The momentum from the midweek win carried through to Saturday’s game, with the Port making most of the running in the first half and earning a series of free kicks around the edge of the Alton penalty area to the mounting anger of the Brewer’s bench. However, despite the promising positions from which their free kicks had been awarded, the Port were unable to take advantage of their opportunities, with first Alek Przepolewski shooting wide and then Connor Kelly hitting the wall.
In the 20th minute, the referee ruled that Joe Butcher had been upended by an Alton defender within the Alton penalty area. Connor KELLY rarely misses his spot kicks and efficiently dispatched the ball into the left-hand corner of the Alton goal to give the Port a 1-0 lead.
Eight minutes later Gary Streeter preserved Newport’s lead by smartly saving a deflected shot that appeared destined for the back of his net. However, the first half ended with further frustration for Alton manager, Kevin Adair, when the home side were awarded yet another ‘soft’ free kick on the edge of the Alton area for a supposed infringement on Conner Kelly, which Neo Lamb hit wide of the goal.
Half-time: Newport 1-0 Alton
The second half began with Alton determined to make up the goal deficit but a combination of good goalkeeping, from both the regular and reserve keeper, and poor finishing from Alton ensured that Port advanced into the First Round Proper of the Vase.
In the 51st minute, Alton centre forward, Luke Perkins, wasted a good chance that was parried away by Gary Streeter. Three minutes later, the home keeper once again preserved the Port’s lead with a magnificent one-handed save.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic for the visitors, as in the 62nd minute, Neo Lamb put Joe Butcher through only for the Port centre forward to shoot wide.
Alton continued to attack relentlessly, but the Brewers profligacy in front of the goal continued to prevent them from equalizing. In the 67th minute, Alton’s Oli Graham somehow succeeded in shooting the ball over the crossbar from just two yards from the goal line, when it would have been far easier to have placed the ball in the back of the net.
Andy Sampson then decided to strengthen his side with a couple of substitutions: Joe Craig coming on in place of Jake Wright and Spike Pearce replacing Alek Przepolewski. More concerning was the enforced substitution of Gary Streeter, who had painfully dislocated a finger. However, substitute keeper, Joe McCormack, admirably coped with the pressure from the Brewers in the last quarter hour of the game.
Alton grew increasingly desperate in the closing stages, with their goalkeeper, Kieran Greene, joining the attack at set pieces. However, this left them increasingly exposed at the back.
The game ended with a series of missed chances for the Port, with Joe Butcher clipping the crossbar with a curling shot and Connor Kelly twice squandering excellent opportunities to add to his goal tally. There was also a degree of controversy with both Joe Craig and Connor Kelly mysteriously finding their way into the referee’s notebook without either having appeared to have been guilty of committing an offence.
The controversy continued after the final whistle when referee, Nathan Dunn, red-carded Alton manager, Kevin Adair.
Newport: Streeter (McCormack), Hughes, Lamb, Przepolewski (Pearce), Mc Donough (capt), Barron, Kelly, Wright (Craig), Butcher, Brown, Younie
Referee: Nathan Dunn
Newport reserves travelled to Blackfield & Langley but were beaten 2-1 following a late winner for the home side. Jared Cousins scored for the Port reserves who looked to be heading for a draw only to conced in injury time direct from a corner.