MATCH REPORT: County win to go sixthNewport County AFC beat Stevenage on Saturday afternoon to climb up to sixth in the Sky Bet League 2 table. First half goals from Aaron O'Connor and Darren Jones gave County all three points, but County did have Aaron O'Connor sent off for a late challenge in second half stoppage time.
On a cold and frosty afternoon at Rodney Parade the game started a lot warmer than the conditions, both teams firing out the blocks and it was Stevenage who had the first chance of the game. Beardsley's header was deflected wide just three minutes in for a Stevenage Corner. The resulting corner was cleared off the line by Ryan Jackson and away for a third corner in succession.
But then County hit back, with two corners of their own, Andy Sandell crossing in and finding Darren Jones whose header was just wide at the far post. County keeper Jamie Stephens had to be on his toes to save well with thirteen minutes on the clock.
County continued to pile on the pressure, Max Porter's cross found Andy Sandell who set up Yan Klukowski to flick his effort just wide of the mark. Sandell was then next to fire in a dangerous free kick which was cleared by the Stevenage defence.
County's pressure paid off on 26 minutes, Ryan Jackson's long throw was flicked on by Lee Minshull to find Aaron O'Connor who guided his header into the bottom left hand corner to give County a well deserved lead.
The fourth official signalled four additional minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half and County capitalised. Darren Jones found himself with space inside the six yard box to cooly slot home and double County's advantage, big claims from the Stevenage players for offside which were waved away by the referee.
HALF TIME: County 2-0 Stevenage
The second half started slowly but it was Stevenage who had the first chance of the half ten minutes in, Charlie Lee heading over the cross bar and away for a goal kick to County. County's Andy Sandell, Aaron O'Connor and Yan Klukowski linked up well with Klukowski working his way into the area and shooting just wide and into the side netting.
Andrew Hughes was replaced just after the hour mark with on loan Curtis Obeng replacing him, Manager Justin Edinburgh confirmed that Hughes will have a scan early next week to determine his injury. Dean Wells was next to go close for Stevenage as he headed wide from a free kick.
With twenty minutes to go County had a flurry of chances as Shaun Jeffers, Ryan Jackson and Andy Sandell had their chances blocked consecutively. As the Amber Army rallied to see their boys home, Lee Minshull threw himself to block and clear to safety with 15 minutes left.
Into the last ten minutes and Mark Byrne replaced Shaun Jeffers who received a great reception from the Amber Army following an impressive display. As we entered the 90th minute, the fourth official signalled five minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half. Just two minutes into the five, Aaron O'Connor was sent off for a late challenge, County Manager Justin Edinburgh confirming after the game that the club will appeal the red card ahead of the trip to Luton.
FULL TIME: County 2-0 Stevenage