A youthful Newport side, fielding five teenagers, are knocked out of the Wessex League Cup by the holders, Sholing.
Newport manager, Mike Kelly, without six regulars was forced into a number of changes. The long-serving Gary Streeter, having recovered from injury, replaced Andrew Payne in goal. In defence, youngster, Charlie Butt, came in for the cup tied Liam Newbold, and the experienced pair of Darren Powell and Martin McDonough took the places of Aidan Sainsbury (suspended) and Spike Pearce (unavailable). The combative youngster Lewis Wright found himself in the starting line-up in place of the equally combative Mark Taylor (unavailable). On the wings, cup tied regulars Connor Kelly and Liam Triggs were replaced by teenagers Caleb Charlesworth and Aidan Radford.
In what was very much a game of two halves, ‘the Port’ were very competitive up until the interval, but capitulated after the break, conceding four goals in a calamitous six-minute spell.
Newport began the game kicking towards the Allotments End, on a soft pitch, in damp, cold, misty weather.
The first twenty minutes saw a great deal of Sholing pressure, with the home side conceding as many as six corners during this period, and Jacob Reynolds twice clearing off the line for ‘the Port’. Newport also had their chances, with the giant Belgian, Aurele Beya, almost scoring with a rare header in the 7th minute, and Lewis Wright shooting the ball wide after some fine work by Charlie Urry and Beya in the 19th.
Then, in the 23rd minute, the visitors scored with what appeared to be a freak goal—experienced keeper Gary Streeter somehow missing a shot-come-cross by Jamie Bulpitt, which floated into the top left-hand corner of his goal to give Sholing a 0–1 lead.
It took the island side less than ten minutes to reply. In the 31st minute, Aurele Beya, who appears to have great skill to complement his large frame, sent a beautiful curling pass across the face of the goal to the advancing Aidan Radford—the winger’s shot could only be parried by the Boatmen’s keeper—it then fell to Beya, who clinically dispatched the ball into the back of the net to equalise for ‘the Port’
HALF-TIME: NEWPORT (IoW) 1–1 SHOLING
The cup holders Sholing had travelled to the island in full expectation of victory; things had not gone to plan in the first forty-five minutes, so they decided to shake the game up with a double substitution at half-time: Owen Roundell and Owen Royl replacing Pete Castle and Jamie Bulpitt.
The second half began with a skirmish involving all 22 players. First, Sholing managed to provoke the normally placid Aurele Beya with a niggling foul, leading to an aggressive reaction and a booking for the Belgian. Then, in the 49th minute, Sholing captain, Byron Mason, fouled Martin McDonough from a prone position. Angry words were exchanged, leading to a general altercation between the two sides, which all three officials took a couple of minutes to control. At the end of two minutes of heated debate, both McDonough and Mason were shown yellow cards.
A few minutes later, youngster Aiden Radford appeared to be suffering from cramp, and was replaced by Harrison Yates.
Then came disaster for Newport: Sholing regained their goal advantage in the 67th minute, when a Mason Maclean shot was parried off the goal line, only for Alex Sawyer to pounce on the rebound, to give the visitors from Southampton a 1–2 lead. Two minutes later, ‘the Port’ should have been even further behind when the ball appeared to have crossed the Newport goal line, only to have been cleared by a home side defender.
Then came a loss of shape and discipline for the team in yellow, when four goals were conceded in a six minute spell. In the 73rd minute, Alex Sawyer broke through the middle of the defence, skipped past the challenge of a defender, and slotted the ball underneath the advancing Streeter. 1–3 to Sholing. In the 76th minute, confusion in the penalty area and the quick reactions of Daniel Wort made it 1–4 to the away side. In the 77th minute, Lee Wort ran at the retreating defence and drilled home to give ‘the Boatmen’ a 1–5 lead. Finally, in the 79th minute Lee Wort made it 1–6 for the visitors, sending a fine strike past a by now enraged Streeter, who was not happy with his defence.
‘The Port’ had, by now, been well and truly ‘hit for six’. There was time for one more substitution for the home side, Neo Lamb replacing Charlie Butt, but there was no way back from a five goal deficit.
FULL TIME: NEWPORT (IoW) 1–6 SHOLING
Newport travel to Five Heads Park on Saturday, 10 March, to play 8th placed Horndean.
Newport: Streeter, Butt (Lamb), Reynolds, Powell, McDonough, Wetherick, Wright, Beya, Urry, Charlesworth , Radford (Yates)
Goals: Newport: Beya (31) Sholing: Bulpitt (23), Sawyer (67), (73), Mason (76), Lee Wort (77), (79)