Miserly Newport County are proud of their League Two defensive record after conceding only six goals in 10 fixtures.
Cornishman Scott Bennett, a 28-year-old former Notts County and Exeter defender, was at the heart of County’s back five and was voted man of the match.
Only Forest Green Rovers (5) have conceded fewer goals and Bennett told the club’s iFollow media staff: “We are one of the meanest defences in League Two and that’s an accolade we’re all really proud of.
“In the summer, we looked to work on our defence. Our defensive capabilities weren’t always at their best last season. We conceded a lot of goals.
“It’s something we worked on and you can see the benefits this season. It’s not always been the same partnerships, but, whoever plays puts their bodies on the line.”
— Tristan Abrahams (@TAbrahams_) September 21, 2019
Newport selected three centre-backs for their 1-1 draw against Exeter City at home with Bennett given freedom to step out and break up Exeter attacks in deep midfield.
“We worked on the system with Hats (coach Wayne Hatswell) and that’s what we decided we’d go for.
“Exeter play quite wide with their two strikers and he wanted me to get on the ball and step in as much as I could, break up the play in front of OB (Mark O’Brien) and Kyle (Howkins).
“It worked quite well, I got on the ball quite a bit, broke up a lot of play and then OB and Kyle put their bodies on the line to head balls away and did what they had to do.
“It was a good tactic and we outplayed Exeter during the second half. It was a shame we couldn’t take all three points.”
Newport used a three-man central defensive unit for the first time this season and now turn to their SkyBet League Two fixture at Swindon Town on Saturday.
The Exiles are seventh in the table, five points behind leaders Exeter, and Bennett says: “We’ll work through the week and come up with a plan and strategy to win the game.”
Exeter, League Two’s only unbeaten, went ahead against Newport when Lee Martin scored from Randell Williams’ cross after 15 minutes.
Substitute Tristan Abrahams equalised after 64 minutes, netting his first league goal for the Exiles from a penalty.
“We outplayed Exeter in the second half and it was a shame we didn’t take more of the chances created,” said Bennett.
“On our day, we fancy ourselves against anybody.”
Newport manager Michael Flynn sent on Abrahams for Padraig Amond after half-time and said: “Podge wasn’t really getting the service, so we had to try and change it up. It worked because we were by far better in the second half.
“That was a tactical decision. We weren’t threatening enough in behind. Podge is a really clever footballer, but we needed more pace and it showed second half.
“The next two penalty takers were off the pitch and I just remembered how calmly Tristan took the winning penalty at Gillingham. I told him to take it.”
The Exiles next return to Rodney Parade on Saturday, October 5 when Carlisle United are visitors.
Newport County AFC (3-5-2): Tom King, Mark O’Brien, Scot Bennett, Kyle Howkins, Robbie Willmott, Joss Labadie, Josh Sheehan, Ryan Haynes, Corey Whitely (Dominic Poleon 78), Jamille Matt (Matty Dolan 74), Padraig Amond (Tristan Abrahams 45). Subs not used: Townsend, McNamara, Nurse, Maloney
Exeter City (3-5-2): Lewis Ward, Dean Moxey, Tom Parkes, Pierce Sweeney, Jack Sparkes, Jake Taylor, Archie Collins, Randell Williams (Jayden Richardson 54), Nicky Law (Aaron Martin 65), Ryan Bowman, Lee Martin. Subs not used: Maxted, Woodman, Jay, Fisher, Seymour
Referee: Neil Hair
Attendance: 4,762 (736 away)