Newport County 0-1 Tranmere Rovers Player Ratings: Monthe commands

Scott Davies and Steve McNulty lift the trophy –

Tranmere Rovers have secured back-to-back promotions thanks to Connor Jennings’ 119th-minute header, which gave them a 1-0 victory over Newport County in the League Two Play-Off Final. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Newport County

Joe Day – the Newport stalwart has had another excellent campaign and finished the season in the same vein at Wembley, where he showed great reflexes to make several strong stops, including a wonderful save from Norwood midway through the first half. 8

Regan Poole – the young defender is due to be released by parent club Manchester United, but it seems he has only really felt at home at his local club of Newport County and that was evident here. Poole is known for his composure and ball-playing qualities but this was a solid performance at right-back, with the odd strong challenge mixed in. 6
Mark O’Brien – the defender will always be a Newport legend for scoring that crucial goal against Notts County two seasons ago and we could see his connection with supporters here, but more of his defensive headers than he perhaps might have liked went to a white shirt. Sent off for a second yellow card for foolishly grabbing Norwood on 89 minutes, giving his team a huge disadvantage going into extra-time. 4
Micky Demetriou – the former Shrewsbury defender is a key leader in this Amber Army side and he was once again very vocal at Wembley; the 29-year-old made some crucial interventions and got genuine distance on his long throws, including one for Matt to head wide inside the opening minute. 9

Robbie Willmott – having been part of Newport’s promotion from the National League under Justin Edinburgh six years ago, Willmott knows what these big occasions mean to the club and that was evident on the field. Made some direct runs though the thirds, although his final ball was not always quite as accurate as he might have hoped. 5
Josh Sheehan – the midfielder switched play superbly in the first half, when he showed perhaps more quality in possession than any of his teammates; it is hard to imagine him doing that at Wembley 12 months ago, which highlights how much he has improved under Flynn’s guidance. Tired though in the second half and thus became less influential. 6
Joss Labadie – there have been concerns over Labadie’s fitness over the last 18 months, but when available he is invaluable, especially in these types of games. The former Dagenham midfielder triggers the press with his tenacious forward charges off the ball; he liked to drive forward on the turnover, although the quality of his passing and shooting was roughly the level one might expect from a ball-winner by trade at this level. 5
Scot Bennett – the Exiles’ utility man was the deepest of their three midfielders, sitting in front of the defence for much of the first half. Contributed to the team denying Tranmere a high-volume of chances in open play, but did not contribute too much to his team in the press or in possession, partially as a result of the discipline he showed. 5
Dan Butler – the left wing-back produced a high standard of deliveries from deep, including one half-chance that was flicked on by O’Brien just after the half-hour mark, then a similar cross from which Matt forced a point-blank save. Newport’s most creative outlet throughout. 8

Jamille Matt – the former Plymouth target man was a reference point for all Newport’s crosses, set pieces and long throws. In the first half, he did not get quite as many opportunities to run in behind as he has done in other games as it was often Newport on the front foot. Despite appearing to struggle with injury early in the second half, he was arguably more influential after the interval; could have won a penalty in an enthralling game-long battle with Monthe and came closest for Newport by forcing a save from Davies from the back-post with a header from point-blank range. 6
Padraig Amond – the hardworking striker, who has scored 14 goals this season with 10 assists, pressed fervently early on but he struggled to find the scraps in the box that he normally thrives on. Was unable to make contact with loose balls on some occasions and when he did get a touch on 105 minutes, he headed wide. Work ethic was admirable as ever but he’s had better games. 4

Matt Dolan (on on 72) – the midfielder replaced Joss Labadie in a change that was structurally like-for-like, although Dolan provided more emphasis on care in possession. 5
Tyreeq Bakinson (on 90) – the Bristol City loanee, who has not played as much as he might have liked for the Exiles in the second half of the season, replaced Josh Sheehan to provide some fresh legs. 5
Ade Azeez (on 103) – the striker was brought on for Jamille Matt to provide fresh legs on the counter-attack for the 10-men, although opportunities for him to break with any real purpose were limited. 5
Keanu Marsh-Brown (on 105) – brought on for Willmott to offer an individualistic, counter-attacking outlet but barely touched the ball. 5

Tranmere Rovers

Scott Davies – the experienced stopper did not get too many opportunities, in the first half at least, to show why he has been arguably the best goalkeeper in League Two this season – just two tame shots on target in the first 72 minutes. Davies then made arguably the best save of the match, denying Matt’s back-post header from point-blank range. 8

Jake Caprice – as he has done all season, the energetic right-back gave Tranmere plenty of drive and thrust this season, as evidenced by his tilted cross for Norwood’s big chance just after the half-hour mark. Appeared to tire after half-time in normal time and needs to be slightly more consistent with his technical output when not playing at full pelt, but his final cross for Jennings’ winner was a peach. 7
Manny Monthe – when we look at the impact Monthe has had on Tranmere’s form in the second half of the season, it seems surprising that he did not become a regular earlier; Monthe dominated Matt for much of the first half. 8
Sid Nelson – the Millwall loanee, out of contract at his parent club this summer, was perhaps not quite as aggressive as his centre-back partner, but he held his ground well and made few mistakes. 6
Liam Ridehalgh – the left-back made clever runs off the ball to create space for Jennings; he also played some intelligent passes inside. Ridehalgh’s subtle qualities made up for not quite possessing the athleticism of his right-sided counterpart. 6

Ollie Banks – the midfielder was often stationed deep with the remit of stopping the ball getting into Matt. In the second half, the quality of his long-range passes into the final third was key to bringing Norwood into play. 7
David Perkins – the experienced midfielder, who was part of Wigan’s League One title win in 2017-18, was more influential against Forest Green than he was perhaps here. Although Perkins retained possession stringently and did some decent covering work, there were times, especially when he tried to press, when his lack of mobility was problematic. 5

Kieron Morris – the energetic wide man perhaps did not display a great deal of individual quality; his game was mainly about making selfless runs off the ball to create space and clear avenues for Caprice to power forward. Tranmere looked better with him on the pitch than without him. 6
Jay Harris – the ball-winner by trade’s tenacity made him a very useful tool in the press against Forest Green in the Semi-Final. Here, though, Harris was not quite as influential as he might have hoped to have been, either in or out of possession – capable of more than he showed. 4
Connor Jennings – the versatile forward put in a selfless shift from the left; he made clever runs in from the left and tried to link up with Norwood, blazing over from the edge of the left-side of the penalty area early on. Had his quiet spells but moved central in the second half after Harris was replaced by Pringle as Micky Mellon looked to maximize his telepathic relationship with Norwood; that decision paid dividends as Jennings popped up with a back-post header to win it in extra-time. 6

James Norwood – the striker excelled at making diagonal runs away from the ball into space, such was his cleverness of movement; he was not always picked out at the exact moments he might have hoped and sometimes lacked the pace to attack in transition. The ex-Forest Green man though worked tireless throughout to retain possession high up the pitch – he showed why he has scored 30 goals this term, peeling off the Newport defenders to volley firmly goalward just after the half-hour mark, only to be denied by Day. 6

Ben Pringle (on 53) – the attacking midfielder, who replaced Jay Harris, improved the technical standard of Tranmere’s build-up play and retained possession well in advanced areas, wisely picking his movements to take decisive action. 7
Steve McNulty (on 82) – the veteran centre-back was brought on for the finale, presumably for his physical presence and leadership at set pieces. Did not do much for Tranmere’s quality of distribution from the back, unsurprisingly, but was immense for the final two minutes of extra time, when he headed out ball after ball out of the penalty area as the Super Whites defended their lead. Could be his last game for the club – in which case, this is not a bad way to bow out. 7
Adam Buxton (on 115) – the right-back replaced a tiring Jake Caprice for the closing stages of extra-time, perhaps for his superior penalty-taking ability, but Buxton made contributions in open play, having been part of the link-up combination sequence that led to Jennings’ winner. 7