Port go top after hard fought battle with Ringwood

A closley fought game in the Wessex League sees Newport (IOW) go top after beating Ringwood 3-1 at long Lane

Ringwood vs Newport (IOW) at Long Lane Saturday 20 November | By Andy Jones

Newport (IOW) went top of the Wessex League Division One table after coming from behind to beat a much improved Ringwood side 3-1 at Long Lane. in a game the home side will feel they should have at least got a point.

Callum Horton had put the home side in front after half an hour before Joe Craig equalised just before the break. Charlie Hitchings felt the wrath of an erratic referee and was sent to the sin-bin for descent late on which turned the game in Newport's favour.

Craig grabbed a second soon after before Joe Hancock confirmed victory for the away side with the last kick of the game - as Ringwood pushed for a late equaliser.

Ringwood were without top goalscorer Harry Smith who was out with a sprained ankle and experienced centre back Tommy Hughes was also absent for the home side. Joe Manley returned at right-back having missed a fair chunk of the season and was a welcome return to Richard Morse’s team.

Newport were also without their leading goal scorer, Jordan Browne, who was not in the matchday squad. The Isle of Wight-based side still had plenty of firepower though with the likes of Craig and Connor Kelly in the starting line up.

Ringwood started the game on the front foot and looked their opponents equal and it would have been hard to tell which team was the one flying-high at the top of the table.

15 minutes in, Ringwood had the first real chance of the game. Harrison Clarke was brought down on the edge of the box giving Town a free kick in a dangerous area. Up stepped set piece specialist Joss Holford, but the midfielder’s curling effort went narrowly over the bar.

Minutes later and Newport had a glorious opportunity of their own. A mis-timed challenge at the back allowed Aaron Burford to run through on goal but Port’s number four shanked his effort wide of Sam Reilly’s goal.

Holford then attempted a cheeky 40 yard lob after spotting Joe McCormack off his line and had the Newport ‘keeper scurrying back to his goal. But Holford’s effort dipped just wide of the post, sparring the keeper's blushes.

Ringwood’s positive start to the game and pressure finally paid off on the half hour mark. Again Holfford was involved as he whipped in a free kick from the left wing and there was Horton to rifle home from 6 yards giving the home side a well deserved lead.

Following the goal Newport looked for an immediate response and put pressure on Ringwood’s defence with a series of corners but Horton and Brad Smith were in excellent form, getting their heads to every ball and dealing with any balls over the top excellently.

With Newport unable to respond quickly, Ringwood’s ball retention again created some more opportunities. Town’s skipper, Ben Harris, came agonisingly close to doubling his side’s lead when his shot nearly squeezed in at McCormack’s near post, but a deflection on the way saw it go out for a corner.

Then just before the half-time whistle Newport got their equaliser. Despite a brilliant defensive display from RIngwood, a poor clearance from a Newport cross landed at the feet of Craig on the edge of the box. The striker hit the ball on the half-volley leaving Reilly rooted to the spot as it found the bottom corner.

Ringwood started the second half on the front foot, again keeping and passing the ball well and looking most likely to score next. Harrison Clarke had a strike from distance saved whilst Harris also had a shot blocked on the edge of the box.

Then with about 15 minutes to go the game turned on its head. Charlie Hitchings was sent to the sin bin for descent, leaving Ringwood down to 10 men.

Newport soon took advantage when Craig grabbed his second of the game on 78 minutes. With Ringwood’s left-back in the sin bin, Newport broke down the right and Craig was there to tap in from close range as the cross was pulled back.

The goal seemed to knock the wind out of Ringwood who up until that point had arguably been the better team on the day.

Then in the dying embers of the game Ringwood sent keeper Sam Reilly up for a last minute free kick in an attempt to salvage a point. It wasn't to be though as Newport broke from the free kick and Hancock slotted home to make the score 3-1 and in truth a scoreline that didn’t reflect Ringwood's performance on the day.

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