Crewe: Richards, Ng, Pickering, Jones, Bowery, Nolan, Nicholls, Wintle, Green, Kirk (Ainley, 53), Hunt (Raynes, 89)
Unused Subs: Garratt, Walker, Lowery, Finney, Reilly
Attendance: 3,243 (253)
Crewe Alexandra fell to a 1-0 defeat at Newport County AFC as the 2018/19 away campaign began with defeat.
Padraig Amond’s first half header proved decisive, though Paul Green missed a second half spot-kick that cost the Alex dearly.
Boss Dave Artell was forced into one change for the trip to South Wales, with George Ray missing with his rib injury picked up during the opening day win over Morecambe.
Nicky Hunt moved into the starting XI after his sub appearance last time out. With Chris Porter missing from the bench too because of a knock, Oli Finney & Brad Walker came into the 18.
The hosts were clearly trying to make up for their opening day drubbing at Mansfield, flying of the blocks & directly attacking the Alex goal whenever possible.
Dave Richards was called into action as early as the third minute, with most of the first half chances coming from dangerous Dan Butler crosses from the left-flank.
His first was met by Amond at the back post – from not to a dissimilar position from which he scored – but on this occasion the Alex keeper got a strong hand to keep the header out.
Four minutes later, Mickey Demitriou curled a 20-yard free kick narrowly over the top, slightly on the angle, as the home support began to crank up the volume.
After the first ten minute barrage though, Crewe came into the game & went close in the 12th minute. Paul Green released James Jones in midfield & he drove forward before slipping in Alex Nicholls. The striker’s first touch to set was good & then he thumped a left-footer narrowly wide of the post from the edge of the box.
Six minutes later & Crewe’s best first half chance arrived, Pickering thumping the post with his 25-yard free-kick – a sublime effort that had Exiles keeper Joe Day beaten all ends up.
The hosts began to ramp up the pressure again with Butler swinging numerous crosses over from the left – and one eventually paid dividends in the 33rd minute. Amond broke free of his marker at the back post to steer his header back across goal & into the bottom corner – leaving Richards with no chance.
The remainder of the opening period passed by with little involvement, the hosts happy to preserve their narrow advantage with Crewe struggling to find a way through.
The Exiles seemed to fly out of the traps in the second half even more so than they did to start the game.
The lively Amond was again causing problems, winning a corner three minutes after the restart that Scot Bennett headed narrowly wide.
Just two minutes later it was Amond himself that nearly doubled the lead. He let fly a rasping drive from 25-yards that was destined for the net – had it not been for the reflexes of Richards to get up to glove the drive over the top.
Crewe were gifted a fantastic opportunity to draw level on 65 minutes. Green was fouled just inside the box & he picked himself up to take the spot-kick. The tame effort was saved easily by goalkeeper Joe Day down to his right, with County defenders crowding out the rebound.
A minute later Eddie Nolan forced Day into another save down low to keep out his header, but the penalty miss seemed to stun Crewe.
It was the Exiles who continued to press on in an attempt to extend their advantage, making it difficult for the Alex to carve out chances. Balls were thrown into the box in an desperate late attempt to grab an equaliser, but Newport hung on to record their first victory of the season.
So Crewe started their travels with a defeat, but the team have chance to put that right at home on Tuesday night when Fleetwood come to town in the Carabao Cup.