Newport County fell to a narrow defeat away to Stevenage on a wet Tuesday night at the Lamex Stadium in League Two.
Former Newport player Alex Gilbey scored with a terrific curling strike to give his side the lead after an eventful first half finished with the scores level.
Omar Bogle had the best chance for County but it was the hosts that had the better of the second half and Luke Norris will wonder how he didn’t find the back of the net.
The hosts fashioned the first real chance of the game when Carl Piergianni got on the end of a looping Max Clark cross, however, the header bounced wide of the left-hand post.
Stevenage thought they were in on goal through Jamie Reid on ten minutes, with the frontman looking for Norris deep inside the penalty area, but the linesman’s flag denied the opportunity.
Steve Evans’ men continued to dominate the opening stages and Kane Smith was the next to go close, finding himself in space on the edge of the box by Max Clark and seeing a powerful drive blocked well by Priestley Farquharson.
Stevenage captain Piergianni then thought he had won his side a penalty after grappling with County defender James Clarke, but the referee waved away his appeals.
Nick Townsend was brought into action on the half hour mark after Smith picked up the ball 25-yards from goal, drove into the County area, and fired a fierce shot at goal. The strike took a slight deflection, with the Exiles goalkeeper positioning himself well to deny it.
The visitors then twice came close to opening the scoring against the run of play.
James Waite thought he would open the scoring as Bogle turned provider by brilliantly plucking the ball from the sky and laying it off, Waite’s shot though rolled inches wide of the right-hand post.
The game sprung to life towards the end of the first half. Bogle was then denied by a last-ditch lunge as he charged at goal as he looked to get on the end of a Will Evans through ball, before seeing a good headed chance skim off his head and harmlessly away as Newport grew into the game.
The number 9 then had the game’s best chance on 40 minutes after Evans flicked on Cameron Norman’s high ball, and despite brushing off Piergianni he placed his shot wide of the right-hand post from close range.
Jordan Roberts then found Norris with a delightful reverse pass, he looked destined to score but Declan Drysdale slid in with a heroic challenge to keep the score goalless.
The opening goal of the game then arrived just three minutes into the second period with Gilbey finishing into the top corner after County failed to clear their lines.
Smith was then denied by a fine stop from Townsend to keep us in the game following a goalmouth scramble, at the other end Matt Dolan had a speculative effort from the halfway line saved comfortably though he did look concerned for a moment.
The Borough were brimming with confidence and saw efforts from Norris and Reid fly just wide in quick succession as they looked to double their advantage.
Norris had a golden chance to make it two after finding space in the box only to glance Smith’s shot wide of the left-hand post.
Once again Norris went close for his side, Clark swung in a looping corner kick, Dan Sweeney nodded it down but the striker’s half-volley sailed over the bar.
Reid was desperate for a goal and had an attempt from 20-yards out which deflected off Clarke and trickled wide.
Substitute Saxon Earley nearly scored a wonder goal to wrap up the points, winning it of Aaron Lewis inside his own half before charging at goal, the resulting shot went just wide of the post.
Jake Taylor had the last attempt of the game, striking the centre of the crossbar with a powerful shot just before the referee blew for full-time.
STEVENAGE F.C XI: Ashby-Hammond (GK), Smith (James-Wildin, 77’), Sweeney, Piergianni ©, Vancooten, Clark (Earley, 77’), Roberts (Taylor, 83’), Reeves, Gilbey, Norris (Rose, 87’), Reid.
Subs not used: Chapman (GK), Campbell, Read.
NEWPORT COUNTY XI: Townsend (GK), Norman (Adam Lewis, 75’), Drysdale, Clarke, Farquharson (Moriah-Welsh, 59’), Aaron Lewis, Bennett (Lindley, 75’), Dolan © Evans (Nevers, 68’), Bogle (Zimba, 75’).
Subs not used: Day (GK), Demetriou.
Referee: Oliver Langford
Assistant referee: Stuart Butler
Assistant referee: Connor Farrell
Fourth official: Sam Purkiss