Date: 9th August 2014 at 9:23pm
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Newport County 0 Wycombe Wanderers 2

Vital would like to thank Adam Clift for the following report.

Wycombe Wanderers got off to the perfect start as they secured a comfortable win at Newport County in their opening game of the 2014/15 campaign.

First half goals from debutant Peter Murphy, the 5th season in a row a debutant has scored on the opening day of the season, and Paris Cowan-Hall, his first Wycombe goal with his feet, were enough to earn Wanderers second spot in the League Two table after the opening weekend.

Gareth Ainsworth named Alfie Mawson in his back four, a new signing acquired on a youth loan from Brentford earlier today to fill in for the injured Gary Doherty. Mawson partnered Aaron Pierre, with fellow new signings Sido Jombati and Joe Jacobson at full-back.

Cowan-Hall and Wood provided the width in midfield, and Kretzschmar was chosen to partner Murphy in the middle with Scowen and Lewis both injured. Meanwhile Paul Hayes, skipper for the afternoon, partnered Matt McClure up front. Ainsworth also named Aaron Holloway on the bench – another new boy, signed only today on a short term contract until January, following a trial in pre-season.

Newport had former Wanderers Andy Sandell, funnily enough playing at left back, and Chris Zebroski in their starting line-up.

The visitors started brightly, forcing a corner early on which led to an Aaron Pierre header being smartly saved by County stopper Lenny Pidgeley.

Newport were also looking bright in attack. Rene Howe outmuscled Jacobson before cutting back to Michael Flynn but his shot was straight at Ingram. Shortly afterwards Kevin Feely headed over the bar from a good position.

Wycombe were looking good though, Murphy was breaking the play up in midfield while Pierre and the extremely impressive Mawson were relatively untroubled at the back. Meanwhile Sam Wood and Joe Jacobson tried their luck from distance but missed the target.

After a spell of Newport pressure, it was five minutes before the interval that the blues took the lead. A Kretzschmar corner was swung in towards the near post and Murphy who’d made an intelligent run, headed into the bottom corner. He’d started his Wycombe career well, and after contributing nine goals from midfield for Accrington last campaign, he looks like an incredibly useful addition to the squad.

At this point the travelling faithful were hoping they could keep their noses in front before the break, but just four minutes later and the advantage was doubled. Sam Wood did brilliantly to dance round two defenders before laying it on a plate for Cowan-Hall to tap home. Wood was a danger throughout and proved why he should be playing left midfield, rather than filling in at left-back as he did so regularly last season.

The ref`s half-time whistle brought to an end a more or less perfect half for the blues, and they actually led the League Two table at the break.

The second half saw Newport come out slightly stronger but the young defensive pairing of Pierre and Mawson dealt admirably with everything that was thrown at them. Wycombe even had to play part of the second half with ten men as Joe Jacobson required stitches to a facial wound.

Despite some further Newport pressure, Ingram was rarely troubled. Rene Howe headed a Sandell cross wide, a Lee Minshull downward header also drifted wide and a Robbie Willmott free-kick sailed over the top.

Ainsworth introduced Matt Bloomfield into the action, and even later Steven Craig, as they replaced Kretzschmar and Cowan-Hall respectively. While Sam Wood had a drilled attempt sail over the crossbar.

Newport continued to press but Wycombe defended superbly, their extra height in defence this year clear to see with Jombati making a very impressive debut at right-back. He and Jacobson certainly seem like upgrades on McCoy and an out of position Wood.

Despite the pressure, County couldn’t hit the back of net to find their way back into the game and Wanderers secured an opening day victory for the third season in the row. The previous two campaigns didn’t exactly run smoothly so none of the travelling fans from today will be getting carried away, but it was certainly an encouraging display and hopefully a sign that last season’s relegation battle won’t be repeated.

Next up for the Blues is a trip to Millwall in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, where I’d imagine Ainsworth may make changes to the squad. But if the eleven from today are chosen again next Saturday, and if they perform in the same manner, there is definitely a chance of a similar result when Carlisle visit Adams Park.

Ingram 6, Jombati 8, Mawson 8*, Pierre 8, Jacobson 7, Cowan-Hall 7 (Craig n/a), Murphy 8, Kretzschmar 6 (Bloomfield 6), Wood 7, McClure 6, Hayes 7