Abertillery Bluebirds 0 – 1 Newport City

Newport City ended the 2022/23 campaign in superb style, as they experienced a momentous away win against high flying Abertillery Bluebirds. The result also secured the Steelmen’s survival against the drop, as they managed to cement their spot for another season in the Ardal South East League.

The first half turned out to be a highly cagey & even affair, with clear cut opportunities coming at a premium. The first clear cut chance came in the 16th minute, when a goal bound effort by Abertillery’s Brandon Withers was blocked by Joe Cashman. The rebound fell to the path of Christian Mbongompasi, who saw his strike tipped away from the bottom right corner by Marcel Nzarora. The Bluebirds came close again to scoring, as Withers powered a threatening header over the bar.

City responded with their own spell of pressure; and almost took the lead when Adam Kaplan fired a shot from the edge of the area over the bar. Kareem Leigh also came close, as he sent an acrobatic effort from inside the area just over the bar. The attacker came close again following a nice control and turn inside the area, but dragged his low shot inches wide of the right post.

The Steelmen’s good work was however nearly undone, as Abertillery almost went in front shortly before the interval. A low shot from Ryan Meredith was spilled by Nzarora, before Mbongompasi fired the rebound into Martyn Mickiewicz (who produced a superb block). The Bluebirds came close again, as Kyle Williams saw his looping effort grasped by Nzarora.

HT 0-0

The Bluebirds restarted the game strongly; and sustained a strong spell of pressure up until the hour mark. Williams saw his goal bound shot blocked by Gareth Hole after Nzarora spilled the ball from a cross, while the latter tipped a 20 yard effort from James Young over the bar.

City eventually managed to weather the storm; and were rewarded when they went ahead against the run of play in the 62nd minute. The goal came following a neat breakaway move, as Ethan Wynne darted down the left channel and crossed into the path of Leigh. The latter advanced into the area before tucking away a nice finish into the bottom left corner, handing the Steelmen a valuable lead.

City were made to work hard to preserve their advantage; as Abertillery responded in dominant fashion. Nzarora was called into action again, as he superbly blocked a point-blank header from Lewis Clarke following a corner. There was bedlam in the Steelmen’s area minutes later when Nzarora spilled the ball again, leading to Cashman blocking a strike from Meredith. The rebound fell into the path of Corey Mitchell, who saw his shot deflect inches away from the bottom left corner.

City briefly managed to calm the pressure from the hosts; and almost doubled their lead. Dean Clifford saw his 15 yard free kick effort blocked by the Bluebirds wall, while Leigh fired a strike narrowly wide of the right post. The Steelmen were then made to withstand a series of crosses, high balls and set pieces into their box as Abertillery desperately searched for a leveller.

City to their credit stood firm; and defended efficiently as a team. Nzarora was called into action one final time, as he grasped a deflected shot from Nathan Tunley in the dying seconds. The Steelmen successfully managed to clinch the victory, sparkling scenes of celebrations from the City players and staff at the final whistle.

FT 1-0

Avoiding relegation has without doubt been a remarkable achievement for the City, especially acknowledging the mammoth task they faced when rooted to the bottom of the table with only 5 points at Christmas. The Steelmen will now hope the successful Nexgen ownership can help propel them towards a promotion challenge next season, as they look to continue their progress.

Newport City Line-Up:

Nzarora, S.Wood, Hole (Sub: Taylor), Cashman, Mickiewicz, Wynne, Price, Clifford, Hill, Kaplan (Sub: Corten), Leigh

Subs not used – Pateev, Joyce, Houldsworth

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