COUNTY CAN’T GET HILL DOWN
KEITH Hill wasn’t about to let Newport County ruin Rochdale’s promotion party as he quickly turned his attentions to next season and League One despite defeat at Rodney Parade.
A late missed penalty from Matt Lund and last-gasp winner from defender Kevin Feely saw Rochdale defeated despite leading from George Donnelly.
But Hill was nothing but proud of his players’ efforts all season.
“We will get over the disappointment of not winning the title, it’s all positive, there is no negativity and I’d like to congratulate Paul (Cook) and Chesterfield and Russ (Wilcox) and Scunthorpe, it’s been a marvellous title race from start to finish,” he said.
“We were in touching distance all season and we’ve been very successful. We did everything we could to beat Newport, but sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.
“We’ve been promoted and hopefully not winning the title gives us more incentive to be successful next season.”
Dale were roared on by a superb away following, other than Portsmouth the biggest away contingent of the season at Newport as their supporters hoped to celebrate clinching the League Two title.
“It was absolutely superb, every supporter to a man, woman and child have supported us magnificently all season,” Hill added.
But Newport County boss Justin Edinburgh was thrilled to end County’s first season back in the Football League on a high. “We’ve had a fantastic season and we wanted to go out on a high and we’ve done that against a very good side,” he said.
“We congratulate Rochdale on their promotion, but credit to my players for winning a very important game.
“No side in the top eight has won at Newport County this season and that’s a big thing for us to take into the next campaign.
“We are growing as a football club and now we’ll go away and try and improve the squad.
“With six or seven new additions and retaining the players we want, I think we’ll be in and around the promotion picture.”
Donnelly missed a good chance for the visitors early on, but it only delayed the visiting celebrations. The opener duly arrived, Ian Henderson splitting the Newport defence and Donnelly was able to clip the ball home after Ian McLoughlin parried his first effort.
Newport were struggling to attack with anything of note but from their first genuine chance they equalised, Ryan Jackson’s cross volleyed at goal by Mike Flynn whose effort was well stopped by Josh Lillis, but Aaron O’Connor was on the spot to tap home.
The second period was a far more even affair but the contest exploded into life in the final ten minutes. Henderson was central again, hauled back by Ryan Jackson who was sent off, but McLoughlin produced a stunning save to deny Lund’s firm effort as ten-man Newport held firm.
And incredibly the ten men won it at the death, Charlton loanee Feely looping home a header from Robbie Willmott’s free-kick.
ALL SMILES: Kevin Feely, right, celebrates his goal with Newport teammates STAR MAN
IAN HENDE RSON