In a game of two halves, Andover New Street dominated the first half, Newport fought back to level terms in the second only to lose to an injury time goal once again.
The Beatrice Avenue pitch was judged to be fit to play on Saturday morning, despite heavy rain over the preceding week. A sunny afternoon had been forecast, but the game was played in a constant downpour. No doubt the slippery condition of the pitch was at least partly responsible for the number of mistimed tackles throughout the game, leading to a flurry of red and yellow cards being brandished by referee, Adrian Knight.
Port made a number of changes to the starting line up to the one that had beaten Folland Sports the previous Saturday. Gary Streeter returned in goal in place of Ben Gearing, and Neo Lamb was given the nod in place of Jacob Reynolds. Port’s attacking potential was bolstered by the welcome return of Charlie Urry from suspension. The injured Connor Kelly was an unfortunate absence, and his place was taken by Mark Taylor.
The first half was something of a dour affair, with the Port struggling to create anything in attack. Andover took the lead in the 22nd minute with only their second attempt on goal, when Luke Hooper connected with a long ball to score at the far post.
Missing the pace and creativity of leading scorer, Connor Kelly, it took Port until the 36th minute to manage their first shot on target. The first half ended in controversial fashion, when Ryan Hughes was bundled over in the New Street penalty area by an Andover defender. However, rather than awarding a spot kick, the referee blew his whistle for half time.
Half time: Newport IW 0-1 Andover New Street
Unlike the first half, the second half could not be described as being in any sense dull. Port began with attacking intent, with Mark Taylor being denied by the New Street keeper after a strong run in the 46th minute. However, New Street were to extend their lead in the 61st minute through a long shot by Shane Lock, to give the away side a 2-0 advantage.
Two minutes later, Port responded through a George Colson penalty, after Charlie Urry had been pushed in the penalty area, to make the score 2-1. However, Colson was given his marching orders for a second yellow card shortly after scoring, in what appeared to be a clash of heads with an opponent.
A few minutes later, the visitors were also reduced to ten men, after one of their number clashed with Mark Taylor. Port were now in the ascendency, and created a number of chances. First, Neo Lamb had a free kick acrobatically saved by the New Street keeper, and then Jordan Browne headed just past the New Street post.
Andy Sampson then threw on some fresh legs in an attempt to claw the game back for Port. Liam Triggs replacing Ryan Hughes and Lewis Wright coming on for captain, Martin McDonough. In a game never short on controversy, first assistant manager, the usually mild-mannered Stuart Shepherd was red carded, presumably for being too vociferous with his opinions, then Spike Pearce was sin binned. Despite having a player fewer than their opponents, Port continued to attack.
The home side’s fighting spirit appeared to have earned its reward, when a Lewis Wright cross-cum-shot found its way over the Andover keeper and into the back of the net, equalizing the score at 2-2 and provoking jubilation amongst the home supporters and players. However, jubilation turned turned to despair in the third minute of injury time, when New Street’s Ilyas Warshow popped up in the Port penalty area to score a third goal for the visitors and send the North Hampshire side home happy with a 3-2 victory.
Final score: Newport IW 2-3 Andover New Street
Newport IW: Streeter, Hughes (Triggs), Lamb, Pearce, McDonough (Wright), Sampson, Craig, Colson, Urry, Browne, Taylor Subs not used: Reynolds, Barron
Referee: A Knight
Defeat leaves Port in 11th place in Wessex League One. Newport travel to 5th placed Whitchurch United on Saturday
Newport Reserves beat Shanklin Reserves 2-1 in the IOW Junior A Cup with two goals from Harrison Yates.