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Full-time: Newport County 2 Hereford United 0
ANDY Sandell’s superb strike kept Newport’s perfect start going at the topof the Blue Square Bet Premier table and inflicted Hereford’s first defeat of the season.
And Aaron O’Connor’s late strike only served to confirm the reverse on a night when Hereford were often second best.
The Bulls were left to reflect, however, that things might well have been different had Harry Pell not seen his early penalty saved by Newport keeper Lenny Pidgeley.
Herefordwere able to announce an unchanged team for their first visit to Rodney Parade with skipper Luke Graham suffering no ill-effects following his return to action on Saturday.
Stefan Stam, who missed Saturday’s game due to the birth of his daughter, returned to the substitutes’ bench.
Hereford made a lively start and forced a corner inside the first minute.
The flag-kick came to nothing, however, and play broke down field for an extraordinary Newport miss.
Andy Gallinagh’s back pass was woefully short and Jefferson Louis seized on the ball and rounded Dan Hanford only, seemingly to run into a post.
The ball ran loose and Chris Carruthers was able to complete a hugely fortuitous escape.
Newport played some neat passing football and forced their first corner on seven minutes.
Hanford did well to fist Andy Sandell’s flag-kick clear.
Hereford broke away at the other end and Harry Pell’s pass sent Nichols scurrying away to deliver a cross which Sean Canham fired weakly at Lenny Pidgeley in the home goal.
Moments later, Ismael Yakubu hauled down Nichols as he ran through but referee Graham Horwood waved play on.
The Luton official did, however, point to the spot seconds later when Yakubu brought down Sam Clucas.
Pidgeley, who had obviously done his homework, dived to his left to save Pell’s penalty when the midfielder followed the course he has taken with all of his previous penalties.
Nichols shot over an open goal from the rebound.
Hereford were pushed back for a while and Sandell sent a shot fizzing just a couple of feet wide of Hanford’s goal.
With Newport looking like a top-of-the-table side, at least temporarily, Hereford were reduced to counter-attacking.
This, however, still proved effective with Marley Watkins’ pace a dangerous weapon.
Newport’s precise passing was equally effective and one good move released David Pipe whose cross skidded past attackers and defenders with neither side getting a touch.
Hereford wasted a good opening on 35 minutes when Watkins was completely clear on the right of the area but his poorly directed cross was put behind for a corner with team-mates well positioned.
At the other end, Lee Evans raced a crossfield pass from Louis and sent his shot inches wide.
Hereford continued to make good use of the ball at times and a cross from Watkins was only just too high for Canham.
Hereford conceded a corner after six minutes of the second period and James, up to support his attack, got in a header which Hanford saved comfortably.
The Bulls went back on the attack and a good run by Pell sent Carruthers away on the left.
But the left-back’s cross was too strong for everyone and went out of play.
Newport were now hitting on the counter and a long punt forward was seized on by Danny Crow on 58 minutes and his half-volley flew high over.
Hereford were largely quiet in the Newport half at this stage but did break out to force a corner on 69 minutes.
Nothing came of this, though, and Newport resumed the attack.
Hanford had to dive to his right when the Bulls’ defence failed to be alert to a quickly-taken free-kick by Jake Thomson.
On 75 minutes, Newport took the lead with a spectacular strike by Sandell.
The ball was half-cleared to the full-back 25 yards out and he volleyed a left-foot shot past the helpless Hanford into the top corner of the net.
Ten minutes from time, County boss Justin Edinburgh was sent to the stand by referee Horwood after stupidly kicking the ball away from Gallinagh who was about to take a throw.
Hereford by now had sent on Brian Smikle in place of Chris Carruthers in a desperate search for a goal but left themselves dangerously short of cover at the back, almost resulting in a second County goal when Thomson broke away.
During the five minutes of injury time, Ryan Bowman forced a diving save from Pidgeley but it was one of the few times that the home keeper was called on to make a real save during the night.
And in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Newport predictably broke away for Aaron O’Connor to fire past Hanford and into the top corner.
The gate of 4,365 was the biggest since County were re-formed.
Hereford: 4-4-2: Hanford; Gallinagh, Townsend, Graham, Carruthers (Smikle 79); Watkins, Clist, Pell, Clucas; Canham (Bowman 73), Nichols. Subs not used: Bittner, Stam, Sammons.
Newport: 4-3-3: Pidgeley; Pipe, Jaqmes, Yakubu, Sandell; Porter, Evans (Thomson 64), Flynn; O’Connor, Louis (Charles 71), Crow. Subs not used: Hughes, Harris, Perry.
Referee: Graham Horwood (Luton).
Goals: Sandell, 75 min, 1-0; Yellow cards: Hereford – Carruthers, foul, 14 min; Gallinagh, foul, 90 min; Newport – Flynn, foul, 41 min; Sandell, foul, 74 min; Yakubu, foul, 76 min; Charles, time-wasting, 86 min;
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