Newport County 0, Wycombe Wanderers 2.
PETER Murphy scored on his Wanderers debut as Blues began the season with a comfortable win in Wales against Newport County.
The former Accrington midfielder kept up the extraordinary streak of debutants netting on the opening day of the season, making it five years in a row that a new face has managed the feat as he crashed home a header from Max Kretzschmar’s corner.
Wanderers roared into a two goal lead they never looked like relinquishing with a two goal salvo just before the break as Paris Cowan-Hall, just as he had done on last season’s opening day, netted minutes after Murphy had done the damage.
Aside from a brief spell where County were on top at the start of the first half Blues were able to keep their hosts at arm’s length throughout and began the new season as they ended the last, with a victory on the road.
Wanderers almost snuck in front inside two minutes – which no doubt would have led to chants of ‘We are top of the league’ among the travelling support – as Aaron Pierre looped Max Kretzschmar’s inswinging corner goalwards and keeper Lenny Pidgeley was at full stretch to tip it over the crossbar.
The hosts responded but diligent defending kept them at bay and when a shot did eventually come in, Mark Byrne’s effort from outside the box was weak and straight at Matt Ingram.
Wanderers’ keeper earned his corn with his first serious stop of the game as Rene Howe’s trickery down the right opened up the visiting defence and created the space for Mike Flynn to crash an effort goalwards, which Ingram did well to bat away from danger.
County were starting to get their noses in front after that bright start from the visitors, and Kevin Feely couldn’t get enough power or direction on his header from another dangerous ball into the area.
But Blues fired a warning shot as Kretzschmar bent a free kick wide of the near post, having been brought down just outside the box looking to get on the end of a cut back from Murphy.
Skipper Paul Hayes had a shot blocked by Andy Sandell before breaking the offside trap and conspiring with fellow forward Matt McClure to create a shooting opportunity for Sam Wood, but he scooped it high and wide.
As he had been earlier, Feely was off target as he clipped a near post effort from a corner over the top.
Blues showed him how it should be done as they took the lead five minutes before the interval. Kretzschmar’s corner delivery was inch perfect, Murphy’s leap was superbly timed and the midfielder crashed a header into the roof of the net for the opening goal of the season.
Moments after Howe had curled over the bar Wanderers had a second as Wood burst past his man into the area and rolled the ball into the path of Cowan-Hall, who had ghosted into the area unmarked and was left all alone to smash home.
County persisted with their three man attack for 15 fruitless minutes of football before manager Justin Edinburgh finally tweaked things as goalscoring midfielder Yan Klukowski and Ismail Yakubu replaced the ineffective Aaron O’Connor and Flynn.
It made little difference, even with Blues temporarily down to ten men with Joe Jacobson off the field to receive stitches for a bloodied head wound, as Newport failed to create anything going forward save for a shot from Robbie Willmott he was comfortably able to claim low down to his right.
The Welsh side ought to have brought themselves back into the game and would have done had Lee Minshull not made an absolute hash of a simple header, sending Willmott’s cross back across the face of goal and wide of the upright from three yards.
The increasingly frustrated Willmott – County’s most consistent attacking threat – blazed a free kick way off target before Wood was similarly wayward down the other end after fine hold up play from Hayes to create a shooting opportunity but the wasted chance couldn’t take the gloss off an excellent opening day display.
Wanderers: Ingram, Jombati, Pierre, Mawson, Jacobson, Cowan-Hall (sub Craig), Kretzschmar (sub Bloomfield), Murphy, Wood, Hayes, McClure. Substitutes not used: Richardson, Morias, Rowe, Holloway, Walker.