Transfer roundup

Newport County AFC have certainly had a busy 2018 summer transfer window so far, with players both joining and leaving the club as Mike Flynn looks to build on last season’s 11th placed finish in League Two and the remarkable Emirates FA Cup run.

As the permanent transfer window slams shut for another year, have a look back at all the business confirmed to date by Newport County AFC.


Joined on permanent deals

Fraser Franks

Fraser Franks became the first new summer arrival through the door at Rodney Parade when signing a two-year contract on 18th June.

The 27-year old centre-back might be a familiar name to Exiles supporters having spent a brief loan spell with the club in 2012, joining this time around following three stellar seasons with Stevenage.

On completing the deal, Fraser Franks said: "It’s clear that the club is on an upward trajectory now so hopefully I can come in and keep improving the team following what the boys did last year. 

“Mike Flynn had a lot of good things to say so I think it’s an appropriate time to be at Newport County AFC and I’m really looking forward to it."

Since signing on the dotted line, Franks has already become an integral part of the County defensive line after clearly impressing Mike Flynn in pre-season.

Franks played for 45 minutes in the encounters with Bristol City, Chippenham Town and Stoke City U23s – alongside half-an-hour at Swansea City and fulfilling his first 90 minutes during the tie at Hereford FC.

His most common defensive partner during those pre-season exploits was Mickey Demetriou, although the 27-year old also featured alongside Mark O’Brien and Jay Foulston.

So it was no surprise when Franks took his place in the starting side for the League Two opener at Mansfield Town alongside Demetriou, putting in some crucial clearances and blocks during a performance that saw him voted the Newport County AFC Supporters Club’s ‘Man of the Match.’

Speaking at the press conference before the trip to Nottinghamshire, Franks told the assembled members of the media: “We are very optimistic ahead of the new season. We’ve had a good pre-season, got what we wanted out of it so we’re happy and quietly confident that we can go under the radar and do well this season.

“I’m 27 now and I still feel like my best years are ahead of me, I’m ambitious – I want to go to the next league and so does the manager. That’s why I chose this club.

“I think the way people look at Newport County AFC now compared to what they did a couple of years ago is mainly down to Mike Flynn. He’s got the group together and we are prepared to fight for each other. He’s got the fans on side as-well and it gets us thinking that we can do well this season.” 


Jamille Matt

The imposing presence of 6’1” striker Jamille Matt is sure to cause numerous problems for defences in League Two next season, with the striker boasting over 100 appearances and 30 goals in the Football League.

The 28-year old also signed a two-year contract at Rodney Parade on 20th June and joins the club having scored four times against the Exiles previously in his career – an all-headed hat-trick for Kidderminster Harriers in 2012 and once for Grimsby Town last season.

On completing the deal, Jamille Matt said: “Mike Flynn was one of the key factors in me joining. Obviously played against the team last year as-well and that team did really well when they played against us.

“It was something that stuck out and the team was towards the top end of the table and challenging, okay they fell off a little bit towards the end but hopefully – next year – we can go one better.” 

Following the agreement of his move to South Wales, Matt featured in five pre-season friendlies when playing alongside fellow strikers Momodou Touray, Padraig Amond and Antoine Semenyo.

He played for 45 minutes against Bristol City, Chippenham Town and Stoke City U23s – alongside a shorter stint against Swansea City but completing nearly the whole game at Hereford FC.

Those impressive performances earnt the 28-year old a starting spot during the curtain raiser with Mansfield Town, imposing himself well against the Stags defence before being replaced by Antoine Semenyo after 59 minutes.

Speaking before that opening fixture in League Town, Matt said: “There’s no better way to settle in than with pre-season. You just get chucked in and do what you need to do to get your fitness up to scratch.

“The boys are looking fit and everyone’s attitude has been really good and we’re working towards the level of fitness that we want to reach. We’ve got different types of players that complement each other really well and it’s a tight-knit squad.”


Keanu Marsh-Brown

A crucial part of Forest Green Rovers’ promotion to League Two in 2017, Keanu Marsh-Brown joined Charlie Cooper in signing for County on 22nd June.

The 25-year old winger penned a two-year deal with the Exiles in what will be his sixth spell in the Football League, bringing a whole host of experience to the club for the upcoming campaign.

On completing the deal, Keanu Marsh-Brown said: “I spoke to the manager quite a lot throughout the summer and he showed a lot of interest in me and I feel like it is the correct decision for me at this point in my career.

"I just want to get my head down and play as many games as I can. I want to do well for this team and hopefully help them push as high up the table as possible.

“Mike Flynn showed me a lot of love and I think that’s what you need as a player. He gives me a lot of confidence and he knows what he wants from me next season. That was the main reason that I wanted to come here to be honest.

“Got promotion with Forest Green, was there for three years and I had some good times there but now it’s time to move on and kick on.”

Following his decision to cross the bridge and move to South Wales, Marsh-Brown also featured in five of County’s pre-season encounters.

Alongside Mickey Demetriou, he was the only other player to play for 75 minutes during the game against Swansea City – featuring for 45 minutes against Bristol City, Chippenham Town and Stoke City U23s alongside half-an-hour at Hereford FC.

Those performances were clearly impressive as Mike Flynn named the midfielder in his starting side against Mansfield Town, being substituted with 18 minutes to go by former Forest Green team-mate Charlie Cooper.

Speaking shortly before the League Two curtain-raiser, Marsh-Brown added: “It’s nice to have the fans’ backing and to come to a club where you feel wanted – that’s really important for a player.

“I’m an exciting player. I look forward to playing games week in and week out and bringing my talent to the team. I like to score goals and assist goals and bring a lot to the team so hopefully I can do that this year.”


Andrew Crofts

Andrew Crofts became the fifth new arrival at Rodney Parade when joining the club on 26th June.

The tough-tackling, no nonsense midfielder agreed a one-year contract with County for the new season, bringing with him an 18-year career that includes 500 league appearances, Premier League experience and 29 caps for Wales.

On completing the deal, Andrew Crofts said: “I’ve been speaking to the gaffer for a couple of weeks now and as soon as we started talking, I was really interested in signing for this club. 

“I played with Michael Flynn at Gillingham and he was a winner.  I loved playing with him and I can’t wait to play for him now with him being my gaffer.

“He’s a winner, I’m a winner and as soon as I knew Flynny was interested, it was something that really appealed to me and with the Welsh connection as well, I can’t wait to get going.”

After playing for 45 minutes against both Bristol City and Chippenham, then an hour at Swansea City, Mike Flynn decided to make the decision of announcing the 34-year old as his captain for the 2018/19 campaign.

Crofts said following the announcement: “I am massively grateful for the captaincy role here at Newport County AFC and I am looking forward to the season ahead.

“I’ve played with Michael Flynn and I know he’s a winner – so am I. We're going to take it game by game and keep our focus and make sure we do it right.

“We want to improve on last season’s league position. The goal is to aim as high as we can and hopefully clinch promotion."

The midfield general led his side out for the first time when playing an hour of the victory over Hereford FC, before featuring for slightly longer during his first appearance at Rodney Parade against Stoke City U23s.

Having overcome a late fitness scare, Crofts had the honour of captaining the side on the opening day of the League Two campaign, playing for 59 minutes on his competitive debut before being replaced by Josh Sheehan.

Speaking exclusively to iFollow Exiles following the game, Crofts commented: “We’re obviously bitterly disappointed to lose the game, especially after the first-half because I thought we played really well.

“There were a lot of positives, we created a lot of chances and played some really good stuff. It was a positive first-half and then again in the second-half, we started pretty well.

“A lot of positives, even though it is hard to say that after you lose 3-0. We’re gutted that we haven’t started the new season with all three points.

“I loved walking the boys out today, it was a real privilege to do that. It’ll be brilliant to do that again for a competitive game at Rodney Parade next weekend, I’m very excited about doing that.” 


Tyler Forbes

A former team-mate of last season’s loan star Ben White, right-back Tyler Forbes signed for County on a one-year deal on 28th June.

The 22-year old already has experience of playing in the fourth-tier having spent time with champions Accrington Stanley last year, alongside two campaigns in League One with Fleetwood Town before joining Brighton for an undisclosed fee.

On completing the deal, Tyler Forbes said: “I spoke with the manager who has told me what he wants from a player like myself. I think Newport County AFC fits the criteria of how I want to play so I’m really looking forward to getting started.

"I just think that Mike Flynn is a down to earth manager and I think he’s like that because he’s played the game before and he knows his stuff.  He sold the club to me."

Joining before the official pre-season start meant Forbes then went on to feature in five of County’s warm-up matches.

Like most of the summer additions, the defender played 45 minutes against Bristol City, Chippenham Town and Stoke City U23s – alongside a slightly shorter stint against Swansea City and a slightly longer spell against Hereford FC.

Predominantly featuring in the right-wing back position during those matches, Forbes had clearly done enough to impress Mike Flynn with his crosses and pace, finding himself in the starting side for the curtain-raiser against Mansfield Town.

He was the only other summer addition alongside Fraser Franks to play the full 90 minutes at the One Call Stadium, coming inches away from an assist when his fellow defender’s header drifted slightly past the post.

Speaking shortly before that game, Forbes commented: “Automatic promotion would be great, but the play-offs have to be the minimal target for the club this season.

“From the two teams that I’ve played for who then got promoted – Accrington Stanley and Brighton & Hove Albion – I could see that they had a togetherness running right through the squad.

“The squad here has that togetherness I believe so hopefully we can do good. Obviously the club did well in the FA Cup last season but the league has to become the main focus next year.”


Nick Townsend

In the hours leading up to the curtain raiser against Mansfield Town, County fans were treated to the news that the Exiles had signed a new goalkeeper.

The 23-year old has agreed a two-year stay at Rodney Parade, joining the club following the expiration of his loan deal with National League outfit Solihull Moors.

That stint came from Barnsley, a club in which Townsend featured for on 16 occasions across League One and the Championship. The shot stopper has also played for Lincoln City and Oxford City, having progressed through the youth ranks at Birmingham City.

After putting pen to paper, Townsend commented: “I’ve come here to hopefully push Joe Day and I think it is a good opportunity for me as-well coming back into the Football League.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot to prove coming into this football club – I want to push Joe Day obviously and also push myself at the same time.

“There is a great atmosphere here between the lads. Everything Mike Flynn has said on the phone shows that there is that kind of environment here. The players are a hard-working bunch of lads, everyone does graft down and I’ve really settled in on my first day at this football club.”

Townsend went straight into the matchday squad for the tie at Mansfield but remained an unused substitute.

Discussing his hopes for his spell with the club, Townsend went on to say: “I’m planning to just take things game by game. I just need to keep my level of performance going, concentrate in every match and training session to make sure everything is right.

“I’ve obviously looked at that [Joe Day’s statistics since he joined the Exiles] and they are very impressive. That could intimidate some people because he’s the number one goalkeeper but like I said, I’ve come here to push him and push myself most importantly.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard-work at the end of the day [to become the club’s number one.] That’s hard-work on and off the pitch - all that really. I’m sure it’ll be a good competition between us, we’ll push each other on and off the pitch to make us better goalkeepers.”


Joined the club on loan

Charlie Cooper

The first loan signing to join the club in the summer transfer window, midfielder Charlie Cooper has agreed a year-long stay with the Exiles having signed on the dotted line on 21st June.

Cooper moves to Rodney Parade having played a pivotal role in Forest Green Rovers’ first ever promotion to the Football League in May 2017, going on to appear in over 30 games during their debut season in League Two.

On completing the deal, Charlie Cooper said: “After speaking to the manager, I just knew that this club was the right option for me.

“I just think Mike Flynn is the type of manager that you want to play for. When I spoke to him on the phone, he sold the football club to me straight away. I think in terms of how I want to play and how Newport plays, this will be a really good club for me to go to because it will allow me to express myself.”

Having agreed the season-long loan away from Forest Green Rovers, Cooper went on to feature in five of County’s pre-season encounters.

The 21-year old featured for 45 minutes in four of those friendlies – Bristol City, Chippenham Town, Hereford FC and Stoke City U23s – whilst appearing for a slightly shorter spell at Swansea City.

He came off the bench during the League Two opener with Mansfield Town when replacing former Rovers team-mate Keanu Marsh-Brown, imposing himself on the game with his dynamic tackling and splitting passes.

Speaking shortly before that encounter at the One Call Stadium, Cooper said: “Looking at last season, I know Newport finished just short of the play-offs and had a really good year, especially in the cup as-well.

“Everyone can see how well the club has done and I think this year, we can hopefully push on and do better. As long as everyone gives 100%, I don’t think there’s any reason why they can’t do that.

“Personally, I just want to help the team as much as possible. Of course, every player wants to play as many games as they can across a season and that is something I will be targeting.”


Antoine Semenyo

Having played against County for parent club Bristol City in the 2-2 draw earlier this month, Antoine Semenyo clearly impressed Mike Flynn and joined the club on 18th July on a season-long loan.

At just 18-years of age, Semenyo has already made his Championship debut for the Robins – on the final day of last season against Sheffield United – alongside starring for Bath City last season.

On completing the deal, Antoine Semenyo said: “Michael Flynn said he watched me last season and he realised that I was one of the star players in that division.

“He felt like I would do really well coming over here, so he gave me a call to join the club and I was happy to join. I want to come here, impress, and improve my game. His words give me a lot of confidence moving forward. I’m just ready to show what I’ve got now in League Two. I’m buzzing.”

The striker went on to feature for the first time in the colours of County when steeping off the bench with half-an-hour to go against Swansea City, before going one better on his first start when marking the occasion with a goal from the penalty spot.

Semenyo exclusively told iFollow Exiles following the game: “I am a very confident character and I feel like in those situations that I’m quite humble.

“The gaffer said that I should take the penalty, fortunately I managed to take it nice and cool and it gave me my first goal for this football club.

“I really enjoyed the game actually. The philosophy that Mike Flynn is trying to integrate is really impressive and I’m so ready to play my part. It’ll be a good learning curve for me in my career and I just can’t wait to get going in League Two.”

Semenyo completed the pre-season schedule with a second-half stint against Stoke City U23s, going on to feature from the bench against Mansfield Town.

The 18-year old replaced Matt with 31 minutes remaining, going on to play a pivotal role as the Exiles finished the contest on the front foot. His splitting pass found Padraig Amond in space, but Semenyo was denied his first assist of the campaign as Hayden White recovered to clear the chance off the goal line.


Tyreeq Bakinson

Having featured alongside Semenyo for Bristol City during the 2-2 draw with Bristol City at Failand Training Ground, Tyreeq Bakinson also did enough to impress and penned a six-month loan deal on 30th July.

The 19-year old has experienced life in League Two before having featured for Luton Town on a couple of occasions in recent seasons, doing enough to earn a money move to the Bristol outfit.

Like Semenyo, he has also made his competitive debut for the Robins, facing players like Wayne Hennessey and Ruben Loftus-Cheek as the home side dismantled Crystal Palace 4-1 in the Carabao Cup on 24th October 2017.

In his first interview, Tyreeq Bakinson said: “I really like the vision of this football club. They are always trying to improve on what they have done before and obviously, I spoke to the manager and I like how he wants to keep on improving.

“He’s put together a great squad and I obviously spoke to Shawn McCoulsky - who was here last season - and he had nothing but good things to say about the club.

“You can hear the passion in Michael Flynn’s voice whenever he talks to you – its things like that that attract you because it’s things you want to hear as a young player.”

Bakinson featured on three occasions for the Exiles during the pre-season schedule – all whilst named as a trialist – playing a total of 90 minutes across meetings with Swansea City, Hereford FC and Stoke City U23s.

The midfielder remained an unused substitute for the Mansfield Town game.

Speaking about the team chemistry within the camp, Bakinson added: “There’s a lot of leadership within the dressing room which I was quite impressed with. Usually, there’s only one or two leaders in a squad but there’s more than that here. Everyone is helping each other in a positive way so that’s good.

“Andrew Crofts being here was another reason that I chose to join. The manager told me about that when I was speaking to him and I think he’s a great signing for the club. I can personally learn a lot from him and so can a lot of other players as-well. He’s very professional. Andrew is quite open to helping anyone, if he has any advice then I feel like he will tell me. It’s very good.

“Also, I feel like doing things together as a squad like bowling helps a lot. It’s the little things that you can learn about your teammates and it helps the squad chemistry massively.”


Mark Harris

The first player to sign for Newport County AFC following the conclusion of the pre-season schedule, Mark Harris agreed a six-month deal from Premier League side Cardiff City on 2nd August.

It is his first experience away from the Bluebirds having been with them since a young age, agreeing his first professional contract at the club in December 2016.

The 19-year old has since gone on to make three appearances in Cardiff City colours, starting with his home debut during the 2-1 Emirates FA Cup defeat to Fulham on 8th January 2017.

He made another cameo off the bench alongside his first start in encounters with Wigan Athletic and Huddersfield Town respectively, also featuring at age-grade level for Wales. 

On joining the club, Mark Harris said: “I just needed to get out and play some games, I feel like Newport will be a club where I can develop and get a lot of games under my belt.

“It will be a club where I can get experience, so I feel that this club brings a great opportunity for me. The gaffer has been very helpful, he’s rang me a couple of times and when we’ve been on the phone, I’ve liked the sound of everything he’s said to me.

“Neil Warnock has basically told me to go out, enjoy myself and mainly express myself on the football pitch. He told me to show everyone what I’m capable of and yeah, just to go and enjoy it really.”

Discussing career aspirations, Harris added: “At the minute, I have to say that Gareth Bale is an inspiration for me. Even the recent goal he scored in the Champions League final was just unreal – my aims are obviously sky high and it’s situations like that where I want to be.

“The build on Gareth Bale is unreal, he’s very strong and he can hold players off for fun and go past them easily. I guess I need to get around to that type of build but also, his shooting is second to none as-well. Every time he shoots it goes in.

“Hopefully, I can get to that level soon and maybe even play alongside him one day.”

The striker remained an unused substitute for the Mansfield Town game.


Left the club on loan

Momodou Touray – Barry Town United

The Exiles striker will spend the forthcoming Welsh Premier League season on loan at Barry Town United to gain vital experience with the club.

It follows a shorter loan stint at Merthyr FC last season, a spell that saw the 19-year old featured alongside 136 others on the Emirates FA Cup final match ball following two goals against Willand Rovers.

On returning to the club, Touray became the sixth player from Byron Anthony’s academy to make his first-team debut during the 2017/18 campaign.

On the final day of the season, Touray – who alongside Jay Foulston signed a professional contract with the club in April – also made his debut for the club when coming on as a substitute with eleven minutes to go against Carlisle United.

Since joining Barry Town United on 27th July, Touray has made a blistering start to proceedings and after featuring against Cardiff Met, scored a hat-trick against Evo-Stik Southern League side Redditch United.

The club would like to wish Momodou and Barry Town United the very best of luck for the 2018/19 campaign.


Left the club on permanent deals

The following list contains all the players that left the club in the 2018 summer transfer window, as well as the clubs they have moved to. Newport County AFC would like to wish all these players the very best of luck with their future endeavours.

Lamar Reynolds – Dagenham & Redbridge FC

Tom Owen-Evans – Falkirk FC

Frank Nouble – Colchester United

Ben Tozer – Cheltenham Town

James Bittner – Goalkeeping coach at Reading FC academy

Paul Hayes – Currently unattached

Marlon Jackson – Currently unattached

Calaum Jahraldo Martin – Currently unattached

Jamie Turley – Currently unattached


Don’t forget!

Despite the permanent transfer window closing, clubs in the Football League can still complete loan deals and the signatures of free agents up until 31st August.

Keep checking the club website and the various forms of social media to see what other business the club get up to for the remainder of the month.