Holders Newport Pagnell Town began the defence of their FA Vase title in style with a victory at Baldock Town - but it wasn't as straight-forward as it seemed.

The Swans started Sunday's game at New Lamb Meadow with eight of the side that featured at Wembley, while another three of May's heroes were on the bench.

In the end though it was the new boys who secured the 4-1 success, Albie Hall getting a hat-trick and Lewis Wilson the other.

But what typified the win was goals at the right time.

Owen Robertson had levelled for Baldock in the first half and the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division side had plenty of chances, giving the holders plenty of things to think about.

But every time they got on the front foot, Newport would score and hammer the belief from the Reds.

They should take the positives though and the performance only hints, that with perhaps a bit more care in defence, they can finish comfortably in the middle of the table.

The start was exactly the one Baldock didn't want, with three errors contributing to a goal in five minutes.

First Dylan Switters gave a sloppy ball away that made life difficult for Jude White, although he was shoved off the ball far too easily and was never a foul despite his protests.

The final slip saw Hall's effort from 25 yards hit low across the surface and lacking power, but it squirmed under the hands of the diving David Archer and in at the near post.

It gave Newport belief and it took another six minutes for the Reds to get their heads back in the game.

But once they had, it was a different story.

White hit a rising effort over the top and then Switters should have levelled after a slip from Alfie Powell gave him a one-on-one chance with Martin Conway.

The keeper got down low though to make the save, gathering at the second attempt.

The equaliser was shortly behind though and it was a beauty.

Tommy Reynolds nipped in to win the ball before finding White.

He then skipped a tackle and delivered a lovely ball into the space behind the defence which Robertson had ran onto.

The forward took a touch that took the ball wide of Conway before drilling it into the empty net.

Dominik Robertson then drove a volley straight at Conway, Newport fortunate that a deflection off Powell didn't divert the ball away from the keeper.

It was against the run of play that the Swans went back in front, and this one was harsh on Archer.

He made a fabulous diving save from a close range shot by Kieran Barnes but the ball looped up from his hands and was nodded under the crossbar by Hall.

Baldock still had a couple of chances to equalise again before half-time but first Switters drove a shot across the face of goal before Reynolds almost caught Conway out with a shot from distance after the keeper had fluffed a clearance from outside of his box.

The Newport man got back though to tip the ball over the top.

There was much to be happy with from the home performance and much hope of more of the same in the second period.

Those plans were not helped by a soft goal a little more than 60 seconds after the restart.

A long punt forward allowed Hall to go up against Archer.

Both looked at the big bounce but with the keeper out of the box, he had to use his head against the much taller forward.

Neither connected with the ball, just each other, but the loose ball fell to Wilson who put it between the defenders into the empty net.

Baldock did respond well and it took two fabulous stops from Conway to keep the two-goal lead.

The first from White was good, the second though was sensational, diving low to his right to tip a deflected Charlie Joy shot up and round the post.

And Baldock's disappointing day was done on the hour.

A ball was fizzed across from the left and bounced past player after player. Hall was alert though and a flick from Hall brought his hat-trick and the Swans' fourth.

The remainder of the game was lacking in goal attempts and filled with niggly fouls.

Newport were more than happy with that and will now look forward to tomorrow's draw.


Baldock Town: Archer, Furness, Joy, Rowland, D.Robertson, Essam, White, Ajong (Abe ), Switters, O.Robertson, Reynolds.

Subs (not used): Dhesi, Laing, Diallo, Lamond, Dalli.

Goal: O.Robertson 22

Booked: Reynolds 41


Newport Pagnell Town: Conway, Pryke, Smail, Powell, Barnes (Sage 60), Shepherd, Bush, Ford, Wilson (Pike 71), Ahmed, Hall (Newman 71).

Subs (not used): Willett, Hurst, Markey.

Goals: Hall 5, 31, 60, Wilson 47


HT: Baldock Town 1 Newport Pagnell Town 2