Fleetwood Town 1 Newport County 4
Fleetwood Town surrendered their eight match unbeaten record at Highbury last night, losing the initiative dramatically after going ahead in the first minute through Gareth Seddon.
Newport struck back in style to gain their first away win of the season with Sam Foley scoring a hat-trick.
To add to Town’s woes, Seddon was sent off in the second half as his side lost at home for the first time this season.
Micky Mellon’s side showed four changes from Saturday’s goalless draw with Forest Green. Keith Briggs was sidelined with a knee ligament injury and Sean Clancy, Richard Brodie and Scott Brown dropped to the bench.
Left back, Alan Goodall, made his first start since 20th August, and there were returns to the starting eleven for Jamie McGuire, Seddon and Jamie Vardy.
County’s new manager, Justin Edinburgh, also made four changes following a lack-lustre performance by the Exiles in his first match in charge on Saturday, Southport winning 3-0 at the Newport Stadium.
A mild evening in Fleetwood made a welcome change from when the sides met last December.
It was the only game played in the league that day and Town’s management helped clear snow from the Highbury pitch during the morning!
Town made the perfect start, taking the lead in the first minute.
A Jamie Milligan corner was flicked on at the near post for Seddon to slide home his third goal of the season.
Moments later, Vardy showed his return to fitness with a dazzling run before being brought down just outside the area.
Town dominated territory and possession in the early stages but County were back on terms after 13 minutes when Scott Davies uncharacteristically spilled a shot from Elliott Buchanan and Sam Foley followed up to score from close range.
Light rain made for a greasy surface and Town were unable to play the effective passing game that had marked the early stages on Saturday.
Their evening was to get worse after 21 minutes’ when Rob Atkinson was adjudged to have brought down Craig McAllister and Danny Rose converted emphatically from the penalty spot.
Fleetwood came back strongly, putting the Exiles defence under immediate pressure, but Newport belied their lowly league position by going further ahead when Foley struck a sweet right foot shot from the edge of the area after 28 minutes.
To compound a forgettable half hour for Town, Atkinson left the pitch injured, his second early departure in three days. He was replaced by Nathan Pond after 31 minutes.
Town sought inspiration but they were playing a side visibly growing in confidence. Foley tried an ambitious chip in the 38th minute as he sensed a hat-trick.
Seddon received his fourth yellow card of the season for a head-butt and Newport’s Wayne Hatswell joined him in added time for bringing down Vardy.
The players left the pitch with the Cod Army unable to believe how fortunes had changed.
Excellent work by full back, Shaun Beeley, galvanised the home support in the 48th minute. His determined run into the area was followed by a teasing cross which was almost converted by Brown, trying to free the shackles around him after being tightly marked in the first half.
Brodie replaced Mangan in the 51st minute as Town sought a way back into the match.
Brown had another opportunity in the 57th minute, a header from Milligan’s free kick curling over Glynn Thompson’s crossbar.
Edinburgh made his first substitution in the 58th minute, Nat Jarvis replacing McAllister. Within two minutes, Town’s night had gone from bad to worse.
Steve McNulty turned a clearance straight at Foley who accepted the gift and struck a firm shot past Davies for his hat-trick.
Play had barely restarted when Seddon received his marching orders from referee Wigglesworth for a foul which earned the striker a second yellow card.
Town were unable to find a way back, Newport so much in control that goalkeeper Thompson was a spectator. When they did find an opportunity, Town could not capitalise.
A Vardy header in space glanced wide of the far post after 74 minutes. Scott Rogers replaced Darryl Knights for County.
Town were denied a consolation goal in the 86th minute after Pond had worked well in the penalty area. He crossed from a tight position on the right but the ball eluded Goodall as he charged in. The moment typified Town’s evening.
Foley came off in the final moments to a deserved ovation from the County supporters who had made the long journey north as well as generous applause from the Cod Army in a 1277 crowd.
He was replaced by Tom Miller.
Brown completed a frustrating match with a booking for a foul on Rogers. It was the final act in a dismal night in Fleetwood.
Fleetwood Town: Davies, Beeley, McNulty, Goodall, Atkinson (Pond 32), Milligan, Brown yellow card, McGuire yellow card, 4 Mangan (Brodie 52), Seddon two yellow cards, red card, Vardy. Substitutes:
St Louis-Hamilton, Pond, Clancy, Brown, Brodie
Newport County: Thompson, Warren, Andrew Hughes, Hatswell yellow card, Rodgers, Rose, Doherty, McAllister (Jarvis 58), Foley (Miller 90), Knights (Rogers 74, Buchanan.
Substitutes: Swan, Miller, Rogers, Jardim, Jarvis
Ref: Richard Wigglesworth