County in cruise control as league leaders brush Eastleigh aside


Blue Square South

Report by Jamie Montigue 

Newport County maintained their title challenge and quest for the Blue Square Premier with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Eastleigh.

Dean Holdsworth's men have now opened up an incredible 18-point gap at the top of the table, and at times his side looked a class above Eastleigh on a cold Wednesday evening at the Silverlake Stadium.

Craig Reid got the Exiles up and running from the penalty spot before a Sam Foley wonder strike put the visitors 2-0 up.

Ian Baird's Spitfires pulled one back through loan striker Staforde Palmer before the break. The youngster’s goal unfortunately turned out to be a mere consolation and proved to be one of very few bright points for the hosts.

Charlie Henry was in inspired form for Newport playing a starring role for the visitors as he had a hand in all four County goals. The former Havant & Waterlooville winger laid on three assists for his team and got on the score sheet himself with a penalty late in the game.

The match as a contest was put to bed with Foley's second goal of the evening and Newport's fourth, as the forward netted a close range header seven minutes from time to complete the rout.

Approximately 150 away fans made the long trip from South Wales and were rewarded with an excellent result from their side. Eastleigh, meanwhile can do little but turn their attentions to the next game, which is away to Weston-Super-Mare this Saturday.

Ian Baird named an unchanged starting eleven to the side that drew 2-2 with Chelmsford City at the weekend.

Andy Forbes was still not 100 per cent fit after a recent injury but was amongst the substitutes tonight along with former Saints star and new Spitfires signing Jo Tessem.

The in-form Richard Gillespie was looking to build on his fine return of five goals in his last six games for the Spitfires, but received poor service through out this encounter against the run-away Blue Square South leaders.

During the opening stages of the game, both sides struggled to keep hold of the ball and as a result failed to conjure up any early chances or goal mouth action. There was a lot of head-tennis, offsides as well as niggling fouls which all contributed to a dull start.

It wasn’t until the 17th minute of the game that either side could manage a shot on goal. A well-worked free kick right off the training ground saw Charlie Henry’s beautifully crafted, enticing set piece provide his skipper Gary Warren with a free header just 8 yards from goal. The centre half’s diving effort was well saved, low to the right of goal by Jason Matthews.

Two minutes later, Newport County had the chance to open the scoring as Tony Taggart was penalised for a trip on Henry inside the penalty area.

CRAIG REID stepped up confidently and despatched the spot kick low to Matthews’ right handing the visitors a 20th minute lead.

Newport shifted through the gears and it took the Exiles just two more minutes to double their advantage. Charlie Henry spotted a gap in behind the Eastleigh defence and exploited it to deadly effect playing in SAM FOLEY. The County striker stormed forward and left Tom Jordan in his wake before finishing in some style with an exquisite chip over the stranded Jason Matthews and into the net for goal number two.

Eastleigh appeared to be in disarray after two disastrous minutes and could have fallen further behind were it not for an interception by Jordan as Henry and Newport threatened offensively again. The goal scorer Foley was in the clear to the wingers left but a combination of a slightly under hit pass and the awareness of Jordan managed to prevent further embarrassment midway through the first half.

The Spitfires may well have been guilty of slightly one-dimensional football at times with the defence pumping several long balls forward time and again. Unfortunately, to Eastleigh's detriment the tactics did not pay off as the passing was poor at best with the outcome of losing possession and playing back into the hands of Newport.

A mini-revival as the half came to a close saw Eastleigh claim a couple of corners in quick succession. Tony Taggart did his best with the delivery but the visitors defended stoutly on more than one occasion.

Danny Rose drove the ball wide of goal from 25 yards in the 37th minute before Eastleigh forced County goalkeeper Glynn Thompson to punch the ball away from the danger area following an in-swinging Shaun McAuley delivery.

Five minutes before the break, STAFORDE PALMER pounced on a loose ball in the Newport box to show his predatory instincts in front of goal and find the back of the net to halve the deficit and pull one back for Eastleigh. This marked the striker’s home debut with his second goal in as many games having scored at the weekend on his full debut.

Palmer showed great touch and control in time added on at the end of a poor half by Eastleigh, drawing a foul and winning a free kick which Matt Day powered into the wall with a thunderous attempt.

HALF TIME: Eastleigh 1-2 Newport County

A minute into the second half, Charlie Henry forced Matthews into an early save with a fine effort at goal. The diminutive winger’s dipping left-foot volley was heading for the bottom corner and needed to be met by the alert goalkeeping of Matthews who turned the ball behind for a corner kick.

Newport certainly came out of the blocks fired up as that man Henry got in on the action once more, this time firing a shot from the left side of the penalty area into the side netting.

In the 51st minute, Richard Gillespie did well to get to the by line for the hosts, escaping a number of challenges to the left of goal and continued his excellent approach play with a great cross to the far post. The solid and well-organised County defence were on hand to head behind for a corner before soaking up the pressure.

Livewire Henry proved to be a constant menace to the Eastleigh defence throughout the night and came close again with a shot that had to be deflected away from goal, three minutes shy of the hour.

Baird opted for a double substitution moments later as he replaced Tony Taggart and Richard Gillespie with Andy Forbes and Jo Tessem.

Tessem immediately combined with Anthony Riviere as the Spitfires slowly improved to enjoy a spell of pressure; with the neat passing between the pair so nearly ending in an equaliser as Riviere’s shot flew dangerously across the face of goal and narrowly wide of the post.

In the 65th minute, Gary Warren was a very lucky Newport captain to have escaped with just a yellow card after a horrifically late challenge on Staforde Palmer in front of the main stand. A red card could quite easily have been shown without complaint in my opinion, such was the recklessness.

Eastleigh began to ask a few more questions of Newport, albeit with little luck or end product to show for it. The host’s best move of the game saw a terrific one-two between Riviere and McAuley on the far side carve an opening and a way through. The ball came back to Riviere in the centre only for the midfielder to drag his effort inches past the upright.

With 79 minutes played it was still Eastleigh trying to find a way back into the game as Andy Forbes had a volley from 20-yards out, well held and saved by Thompson.

Out of nothing, County made Eastleigh rue their missed chances as they broke up the pitch and were awarded their second penalty of the game.

Tom Jordan was adjudged to have brought down Foley unfairly in the penalty area, and the referee Charles Breakspear had little hesitation in pointing to the spot. Man of the match CHARLIE HENRY got the goal that his complete performance deserved as he made no mistake from 12 yards to convert from the spot and hand County a 3-1 lead.

Having restored their two-goal advantage the moment it seemed Eastleigh were finally on top and looking like they might just get a goal and possibly even a draw; Dean Holdsworth’s Newport put the game to bed with a fourth goal seven minutes from time.

A pinpoint free kick from Henry was met by a close range SAM FOLEY header who stole in to beat Matthews for his second goal of the game to put the match beyond any doubt.

Just to confirm that it really wasn’t Eastleigh’s night against a fine team (who will almost certainly go on to win the league); in the 90th minute a clear cut chance fell to the exact player on the park you would want it to in the form of goal scoring great Andy Forbes, but even he is human and blazed high over the bar when well placed.

On to the next one as Eastleigh look to get back to winning ways when they travel to Weston-Super-Mare on Saturday.

FULL TIME: Eastleigh 1-4 Newport County


  1. Anonymous7:26 am

    good report butt. from a smiling Taff


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