Two goals from the main man Paul Mullin despatched Newport from the top of the table at a sodden Abbey.
After defeat to Exeter and an unconvincing performance against Tranmere the pressure was on Mark Bonner to make changes to his preferred 4-4-2 system, and he adapted with style pushing Harrison Dunk forward into an attacking role with Jack Iredale replacing him. Harry Darling replaced Robbie Cundy for his first start of the season after recovering from an operation. May and Digger were on central midfield duties, with Hannant and Dunk wide and Wes given a free role to support Mullin up top.
Mullin, Hannant and Hoolahan all had early chances, before arguably the moment that changed the game on 21. Labadie and Hannant tangling with each other, the Newport man hitting Hannant with a punch to the groin as they hit the floor to which Luke replied with a kick. Almost certainly a red card, but the referee didn’t see it, and after a bit of magic sponge work to Labadie the game was up and running again.
Harry Darling had the ball in the back of the net four minutes later, but it was ruled out by the linesmans flag. United broke the deadlock on 38, Hannant with a lovely pass to Hoolahan who played it forward to the feet of Mullin who produced a real strikers finish. By this point the rain was starting to cause large patches of standing water on the pitch, and the game looked in doubt as the referee called an end to the half.
The rain thankfully stopped during the break, but the referee wasn’t happy and the restart was delayed by 10 minutes whilst Ian Darler and his ground team forked and swept the pitch to get it playable again. Taylor and Digby joined in too, attempting to kick water from the playing surface.
Mullin and Hoolahan continued to have chances, and at the back Darling and Iredale were impressing too. On 60 minutes Wes and Pauly teamed up again for the Scouse hitman to make it 2-0.
Six minutes later a loose ball slowed up in standing water, Adam May, wary of being on a yellow card stood off the challenge and Newport struck a lovely finish to bring themselves back into it. After moaning at how they wanted the game abandoning they suddenly found new enthusiasm and put the U’s under pressure, but the defence dealt with it well.
On 75 we saw new signing Hiram Boateng come on for Adam May and almost make an immediate impact with a close shot. Five minutes later Wessi and Mullin came off for Knibbs and Ironside as United looked to see the game out.
As the last ten minutes played out, Digby punted the ball hard down the tunnel in an act of incredible shithousery, the type you absolutely love to see when trying to waste a valuable few minutes. The U’s held the ball well, playing it into the corners to take an impressive win against the top of the table side.
Credit to Bonner for changing things, and huge kudos to Ian Darler and his staff without whom the game would surely have been called off at half time. Yes we rode our luck a little bit, especially Luke Hannant, but the team is looking impressive and this was probably our most complete performance of the season.
United: Mitov, Knoyle, Taylor, Darling, Iredale, Digby, May (Boateng), Dunk, Hoolahan (Knibbs), Hannant, Mullin (Ironside)