DESPITE a highly contentious refereeing decision to send off top scorer Jared Wetherick, ten-man Newport had enough to beat struggling New Milton Town at St George’s Park on Saturday.

The visitors started the brighter and could have taken the lead on eight minutes when an unchallenged 30-yard run to the edge of Newport’s box ended with a shot, which curled just wide of the right-hand post.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Newport’s Mark Taylor (in yellow) puts in a solid tackle to halt a New Milton raid.

Almost immediately, Newport gained control and were rampant in the early stages, with New Milton’s defence somehow shutting out a barrage, which could easily have seen the home side with a comfortable 3-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes.

Jordan Browne, on the left of New Milton’s box took one touch and struck the ball superbly, only to see it cannon back off the post and against the sprawling keeper, who somehow managed to cling on to it.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Jared Cousins (with ball) on the attack for Newport. 

Five minutes later, Wetherick, in almost the same position, cut inside and let fly a curling shot, which was acrobatically tipped over.

From the resulting corner, Wetherick headed goalwards, but it lacked sufficient power to beat the keeper.

A minute later, Port almost broke the deadlock when Joe Craig flicked the ball over the hesitant New Milton stopper, but it was cleared off the line.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Newport striker Jordan Browne wins a header in the New Milton Town penalty area.

Newport stormed forward again and this time Mark Taylor was unfortunate to see his powerful strike from the edge of the box deflect just wide.

Against the run of play, New Milton almost scrambled the opener — cleared off the line after their striker nicked the ball from Port keeper Gary Streeter’s grasp.

The whole complexion of the game changed in the 40th minute when Wetherick was dramatically red carded for a heavy challenge — a decision that instantly made the referee the panto villain among vocal fans.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Newport came out more of an attacking threat than 11-man New Milton for the second half.

Inexplicably, Craig had a miss-of-the-season contender — an open goal miss from seven yards out, from a superb Connor Kelly ball across the face of goal, on 52 minutes.

Home fans were starting to think it was not going to be Port’s day in a tepid second half, with very little goalmouth action.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Newport’s Jordan Browne (in yellow) smashes the loose ball in during a goalmouth scramble against New Milton Town on Saturday.

But on the hour, quick-thinking Browne was in the right place to stab home a loose ball from close in after a corner caused a melee in the New Milton defence.

Newport repelled late New Milton pressure to hold on to the three points and consolidate their position in seventh.

Newport: Streeter, Hughes, Barron, Wright, McDonough (capt), Sampson, Kelly, Craig, Wetherick, Browne, Taylor. Subs: Yates, Snow, Cousains, Reynolds.