Any port in a storm

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Chris Beeley

18 December 2023

Welcome to Newport, home of the famous Transporter Bridge. It's shut. No, that's not a typo.

Our dwindling band of awaydayers and naysayers took up one corner of one of their small stands – this always feels like a three-sided ground, but isn't. Ringo spotted a few submariners in the sea of green to our left.

Bad memories of Christian Jolley but let's put that to one side, we don't have to worry about old striker flames any more – oh hang on, hello Omar.

Unchanged Town lined up as follows: Cartwright, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Maher, Glennon, Conteh, Hunt. Clifton, Gnahoua, Eisa and Rose. Subs were Eastwood, Efete, Waterfall, Green, Holohan, Khan, and Ainley. Uncle Arthur and the Stupid Boy remain AWOL. With their hands and their feet and their raiment all red. Apart from their socks. And their gloves – shame on you, it's positively sweltering in south Wales.

Rose got the toss right this week and Town kicked away from us in the first half.

Three things became clear pretty quickly – firstly, Newport had been paying attention and stopped us doing the things that we have been doing since David R Tell first made his overtures. Hunt's feathers were ruffled, Mullarkey and Glennon were confined to base camp, and Rose reduced to waving from a distant summit.

Secondly, the ref was very keen to give them lots of free kicks, but saw no ships when it came to Amber indiscretions.

Thirdly, the lino on the far side lacked a basic grasp of the offside rule, even with the rugby 22-line to help him.

Morris tried to recreate his famous moment of last year from a similar position in front of us, but he was not in pink and it wasn't a free kick and he didn't score, so it really failed on every level.

Omar threw a crude dive and of course got a free kick 20 yards out. The ref marched Town back more than 10 yards and then drew a line with his spray which would not have passed any technical drawing test at Whitgift in the 1980s let me tell you. The Town wall teetered on the bank of the Usk but, never fear, they can't hit a barn door.

Conteh cleaned up efficiently most of the time and so we got to half time without conceding. Mince pies for 50p at the coffee bar! Nice touch, guys.

The second half began much in the same vein as the first with isolated red raids but we were mostly looking to our right. Then Omar was free on their right and crossed in for Palmer-Houlden to hit the bar with reds reclining. Omar followed up again but our Harvey plunged to his left and pushed it round the post.

Again down the right, again we don't stop the cross, Conteh lazily flicked a header with no idea what was behind him, Gnahoua failed to stop the ball back in, and Omar nipped in front of Maher at the near post. Newport did deserve the lead but the manner of conceding was really poor.

R Tell immediately withdrew Conteh and the ineffective Hunt and Greeny and Gav rumbled on. The change paid off straight away, Green gave us more urgency and closing down in midfield and Gav's new haircut intimidated the locals as he did his best Groves impression.

Arthur tickled it into Gav's path, he strode down our right and hit a beauty of a ball in, which Rose had to perform some contortions to guide into the net, at the cost of his left wrist I think getting trodden on by someone. Thankfully he was okay to continue but we didn't really threaten to push on and win. The ref continued to give them soft free kicks well into the seven added on minutes of injury time. Luckily Bogle could not convert the closest one, and Ainley, who had come on for Eisa, justified his bus fare home with a good block.

Really similar story to many games this season: could have lost, might have stolen a win, but I think we would probably have lost that game under Hurst. The subs made a difference, and we all know how PH felt about subs.

Do you know that paddle steamers used to moor at the Town Bridge in Newport?