Newport County 2 Leeds United 1
That was horrible and it still feels horrible to me some hours after the end of the game. When we saw the team I think we probably all felt we could avoid a repeat of last year’s fiasco at Sutton as the XI TC had chosen looked, on paper, a far stronger side than Garry Monk elected to send to Gander Green Lane. It also presented a number of players with another chance to impress and to some extent prove to us that we were all wrong with our assessment that those players, in the main, had no real part to play in helping us secure the agreed target of a play-off place in May.
We got off to the perfect start too with Berra lashing the ball at goal and scoring his first ever senior goal. We also probably knew it was going to take a bit of a deflection to ever get him on the scoresheet. The celebration was predictably manic!
But from that point on all we got was confirmation that most of the players out there in blue shirts have in fact been correctly assessed by the majority of the fan base. They quite simply are not good enough; we know it and the fact that so many of them have been so sparingly let loose on the Championship suggests that the team management knows it too. You can argue it was a useful exercise to get conclusive proof but for me it was still so frustrating to have to do so and, being old school, and loving the FA Cup, I would have far preferred to see a few more of the players who we will see at Portman Road next Saturday. I actually think it would have been more beneficial to us as a club too. The problem we have walked into now is that we have set up the 1st XI to fail. The only reason (presumably) that we don’t play a full strength side is so that our best players are rested and ready to tear up the Tractor Boys next week (if we also assume that the management didn’t really need this latest test to prove those on show weren’t good enough). The problem is though that they might well still underperform at Ipswich and we’ll all moan at them for that, and probably rightly! So what have we achieved? We’ve ratchetted up the pressure on the team and we’ve lost our best player who was needlessly brought on today! If we were resting him why oh why play him for the last few minutes and risk injury or, well, or what happened. It doesn’t make any sense to me.
At the end of the day Newport deserved the win; they played better than we did albeit on their own patch which did look difficult to play on. It wasn’t bad enough to excuse the way Leeds played though and with two wide men on the pitch and two strikers, why Newport were able to constantly get the ball wide and sling fabulous balls into our box when we weren’t is another aspect of the game I cannot begin to fathom. And why Championship level, first team squad, players cannot cope with League Two players suggests we have a lot of deadweight in the squad still. Well played Newport, whatever we say about the side we put out today, you can only beat what’s in front of you and you did.
Newport County Leeds United
Possession 50% 50%
Shots 19 17
On Target 5 5
Corners 8 4
Fouls 9 11