County play-off chances de­stroyed

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Michael Pearlman

NEW­PORT County’s pro­mo­tion hopes were ef­fec­tively ended by Da­gen­ham’s smash and grab victory, dis­ap­pointed Ex­iles boss Jimmy Dack con­ceded af­ter this de­feat.

Three goals in ten min­utes in the fi­nal quar­ter of the con­test had the vis­i­tors in dream­land, be­fore two in­jury-time con­so­la­tion ef­forts for the Ex­iles. How­ever, now off the pace in the race for the play­offs, Dack ad­mits New­port lack the req­ui­site qual­ity to get to Wem­b­ley.

“It is easy to score two goals when the pres­sure is off, which is what we did, but while we don’t lack for ef­fort, the qual­ity isn’t there in ei­ther penalty box,” he said. “We lack in both boxes, the play­ers do try, but it’s no good do­ing it when the pres­sure is off.

“The fu­ture is rosy with the young play­ers, they are the way for­ward, but we are now look­ing at fin­ish­ing strongly. Are we a play-off side? It’s ev­i­dent in the last four games we’ve let that slip. It is what it is.”

Da­gen­ham coach War­ren Hack­ett ad­mit­ted his side had stolen the points.

“We got a smash and grab type of win, we were 3-0 up but thanks to a lit­tle bit of game man­age­ment and naivety, they nearly got back in it,” he said..

“But we were aim­ing to take three points and have done so.

“We want to get more than 60 points, which is what we did last sea­son, the play­ers are fight­ing for their fu­tures as well, so we want to fin­ish strongly and push on.We will do things pro­fes­sion­ally.”

It wasn’t un­til the stroke of half-time that New­port looked like break­ing the dead­lock, but they found vis­it­ing goal­keeper Mark Cousins in inspiring form, deny­ing Mark Byrne be­fore a slew of sec­ond half saves.

He turned Aaron O’Con­nor’s ef­fort onto the cross­bar and then fin­ger­tipped away a Re­gan Poole ef­fort. The home faith­ful were grow­ing in­creas­ingly edgy at their fail­ure to take their chances and the vis­i­tors pun­ished them with ruth­less ef­fi­ciency.

Ash­ley Hem­mings headed the vis­i­tors in front be­fore Chris­tian Doidge grabbed a sec­ond on the counter.

Cousins made a fourth fan­tas­tic save to deny Klukowski and the writ­ing was on the wall for the Ex­iles, a point un­der­lined when sub Alex Juku­biak added a third, giv­ing the vis­i­tors a 100 per cent goal to shots on tar­get ra­tio.

It ended any hopes of a County play-off berth, mean­ing a solo ef­fort from David Tu­tonda in the fi­nal sec­onds couldn’t put a smile on New­port faces, and nor could Aaron O’Con­nor’s strike at the death.

Sadly for the home faith­ful, it was too lit­tle, too late.


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