Walsall 0, Newport County 0
Newport County battled to a goalless League Two draw at Walsall, but have also been struck by a major blow.
Manager Michael Flynn was happy with an away point at Bescot Stadium, but the news that centre-back Mickey Demetriou has been ruled out for up to 14 weeks has rocked the club.
Demetriou, aged 28, taken off during a 1-0 win against Plymouth Argyle, has suffered a broken fibula.
“It’s a massive setback because Mickey has played every game for the last two seasons,” said Flynn.
“He has had an operation and has had a plate put in. The timeframe is between 10 and 14 weeks to be back playing if everything goes right.
“I will be trying my hardest to bring another defender in. I need experience – I need to bring somebody in who has played in the league – but that is easier said than done.”
Flynn is facing an early season injury crisis after skipper Joss Labadie picked up a hamstring problem in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Walsall.
Robbie Willmott was carrying a muscle problem at Walsall, while Scot Bennett and Matty Dolan missed out because of fitness issues.
“We’ve gone from a really fit, strong squad to bare bones at the minute,” said Flynn.
“I am more pleased with that point than I was with Saturday’s win against Plymouth.
“I have so many players missing. The way the boys dug in and the workrate they put in was second to none.
“It’s everything I want from my players. We weren’t very good going forward, but we limited Walsall.”
Newport County extended their club record unbeaten league run with Tuesday’s goalless draw.
They are unbeaten in 14 League Two games stretching back into last season.
Saturday’s matchwinner Kyle Howkins and Tristan Abrahams – another who impressed against the Pilgrims – were called up to replace the unavailable Scot Bennett (quad injury) and Mickey Demetriou (leg).
County set up 4-1-2-1-2 formation for the Exiles with Tom King behind a back four of Danny McNamara, Mark O’Brien, Howkins and Ryan Haynes.
The midfield diamond of Josh Sheehan, Labadie, Robbie Willmott and Padraig Amond was an interesting proposition as they switched roles on numerous occasions to give Walsall something to think about, although Amond was for the majority between the strikers of Abrahams and Jamille Matt.
O’Brien’s performance in particular stood out from a County perspective as he was the man to break down numerous Walsall attacks.
Newport headed home with a hard-earned point and now focus on playing League Two leaders for a second successive hime fixture.
They toppled Plymouth from top spot and now welcome new leaders Crewe to Rodney Parade on Saturday.
Newport County AFC (4-1-2-1-2): Tom King, Danny McNamara, Mark O’Brien, Kyle Howkins, Ryan Haynes, Josh Sheehan, Robbie Willmott, Joss Labadie, capt (Taylor Maloney 46), Padraig Amond, Jamille Matt, Tristan Abrahams. Subs not used: Townsend, Leadbitter, Nurse, Whitely, Collins, Ekpiteta
Walsall FC (3-5-2): Liam Roberts, James Clarke (capt), Dan Scarr, Mat Sadler, Cameron Norman, Stuart Sinclair, Liam Kinsella, James Hardy (Jack Kiersey 86), Cameron Pring, Caolan Lavery (Josh Gordon 61), Elijah Adebayo. Subs not used: Rose, Cockerill-Mottrell, McDonald, Liddle, Jules
Referee: Darren Handley