Newport lose to a well-organized Andover New Street side in their first Wessex League One fixture of the 2020/21 campaign.
The Port had come into the game having been unbeaten in their five pre-season fixtures. Up until Saturday, they were unbeaten in all their 2020 matches.
The Port put out a strong side for their opening game, including the returning Joe Butcher, who was in the starting line up and other new signings, George Turner and Alek Przespolewski, who were on the substitutes bench. Spike Pearce and Liam Triggs were both unavailable.
The Street started brightly, putting the home side under pressure with a series of high balls, forcing a succession of corners. The visitors were unlucky not to have taken the lead when the ball cannoned off Gary Streeter’s crossbar in the opening exchanges. The Andover team were to take the lead in the 15th minute, when their striker Ally McCracken shot into the Port goal from five yards out, after the ball had spilled from Gary Streeter’s grasp.
The Port also had their chances, but failed to convert any of them, the closest hitting the bar. Their best chance came shortly before the break, when flying full back, Ryan Hughes, broke through after beating a Street defender, but had his shot blocked by Sean O’Brien in the Andover goal.
HT Newport IW 0-1 Andover New Street
The visiting side once again began the half brightly, with Oliver Yates and Shane Lock both shooting wide. Then the Port came back into the game, having their best spell of the match. Connor Kelly shot just past the post, Jordan Browne had a shot stopped by the Andover keeper from a few yards out and then shooting wide from a promising position. Gary Streeter then kept the Port in the game with a good save from a strike by Shane Lock.
The shape of the game completely changed in the 60th minute, when Andover midfielder, Lex Dockree, made a lunging challenge on Jacob Reynolds. There then followed a round of MMA as the pair tussled on the ground finally rising to their feet to square up to each other. After extensive consultations with the linesman, both players were awarded red cards by referee, Lee Nowacki.
The Port went further behind through a 64th minute goal by Shane Lock and were lucky not to be trailing by three goals when an Andover free kick cannoned off Gary Streeter’s crossbar a few minutes later.
Andy Sampson threw on his substitutes in the 75th minute, with Jake Wright, George Turner and Jared Cousins replacing Joe Butcher, Joe Craig and Neo Lamb. Although all three subs put in bright cameo performances, they were unable to change the shape of the game. With three minutes of the game remaining, Jordan Browne came closest to scoring for the Port, but had his effort blocked by the legs of Sean O’Brien in the Street goal.
The Port will be disappointed not to have got on the scoresheet but Sean O’Brien in the New Street goal had an excellent game.
FT: Newport IW 0-2 Andover New Street
Newport: Streeter, Hughes, Lamb (Wright), Reynolds, McDonough (captain), Barron, Kelly, Craig (Turner), Butcher (Cousins), Browne, Taylor
Referee: Lee Nowacki