Newport County 2 Swindon Town 0

Swindon conceded a very early goal in each half at Rodney Parade, and never looked like recovering the situation against Newport County, writes Peter Mitchell.

After signing young central defender Rarmani Edmonds-Green from Huddersfield on loan, Town were able to return Anthony Grant to his normal midfield role.

County really used their height and weight advantages to maximum benefit. Ugly but effective – something their fans must be well used to. Town were nowhere in it for the first 45 minutes, and were being pounded constantly by long throws and the superior physicality of the home players.

With only a minute on the clock, Swindon were right up against it when a ball was lofted in, headed on and then Josh Sheehan squeezed through the defenders to finish well.

Five minutes after the break Town conceded a telling second goal. Again, a long throw into the Town box caused panic and, after a mad scramble, it was poked home by Jamille Matt. A scrappy goal for a scrappy game.

Swindon had a much better second half after this, managing nine shots, but were unable to carve out any real clear-cut chances.

It must have been desperation that saw the, once again, ineffective Lloyd Isgrove replaced by Scott Twine, because it was always going to be mighty tough for the youngster, up against so much muscle and experience. Frustration boiled over in the final seconds, when it was several large Newport handbags against a couple of smaller Swindon ones.

Richie Wellens didn’t blame the defeat on the pitch, although it did inhibit Swindon’s passing style, but he did offer the compliment of saying that, in comparison, the New Lawn pitch was like Wembley.

Swindon cling onto top place, but things are hotting up just below them. With their two games in hand, both Plymouth and Crewe can now draw level with Town, and Exeter sit level on points with one game in reserve. Swindon host Port Vale next Saturday and will be looking to avenge their defeat of three weeks ago.