CAMBRIDGE United match-winner Liam O’Neil says taking on Newport County AFC at Rodney Parade is like playing rugby, rather than football.

The U’s midfielder struck the only goal of the game midway through the second half on Saturday as both sides struggled on a difficult playing surface.

And O’Neil believes that anyone coming to Newport at the moment is in for a difficult time of it because of the pitch and what he sees as County’s “physical” and “direct” approach.

“We knew when we came here that it was going to be a very direct game and physical,” said the former Chesterfield and Scunthorpe United man.

“There wasn’t really much football played out there, but we stuck together and showed a lot of grit and we got the result we wanted.

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“Their strengths are to play direct up to the big man. They’ve got a lot of physical and big players.

“I felt like we dealt with that really well and fair play to the back four because they’ve been getting a lot of criticism lately.

“They stood up really well to it and we deserved a clean sheet.

“It was more of a rugby match out there, if I’m honest,” he added.

“It didn’t really feel like football. But this is what it’s like when you come to Newport.

“They’re very good at it and very effective and the they’ve beaten some top sides in the FA Cup so we go home very happy.”

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Asked specifically about the pitch, O’Neil said: “Ideally you want to play and pass the ball around the pitch and have a lot of possession.

“That wasn’t the case, but I think we’ve shown a different side to us.

“I don’t think I’ve ever won away at Newport with Cambridge. It’s a real tough place to come so we’re delighted.”

Cambridge’s interim head coach Mark Bonner also commented on the effect the pitch had on the match.

“It certainly played a big part in the number of transitions and the number of restarts,” he said.

“There were 75 restarts in the first half, which is really high.

“I don’t know what time the ball was in play for. We knew what it was going to be like and we had to work on our concentration.”

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