Report | Exiles secure all three points on Boxing Day

Newport County produced a stunning second-half comeback to claim a 4-2 victory against Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday afternoon.

An own goal from Ryan Delaney and a strike from Harry Stevens handed Rovers a two-goal lead at the break, before a Will Evans brace and two late strikes from Lewis Payne and Delaney secured a momentous win for the Exiles in Sky Bet League Two.

Manager Graham Coughlan made two changes to the side that faced Wrexham on Saturday afternoon, with Payne and Matt Baker coming into the starting xi in place of Aaron Wildig and Seb Palmer-Houlden. Adam Lewis also made his long-awaited return from injury to feature on the bench.

It was the visitors who made a dream start to proceedings, netting the opening goal inside two minutes. After Rovers were awarded a free-kick just outside the box, Kyle McAllister’s dangerous cross flashed across the face of goal, leading to Exiles skipper Delaney diverting his clearance into his own net.  

Just minutes later, Rovers nearly added a second goal within the first fifteen minutes. With Baker playing a loose ball into midfield, McAllister seized at the opportunity playing in Morton before the former was denied brilliantly thanks to a commanding save from Nick Townsend.

In a bid to respond to going behind early on, the Exiles had appeals for a penalty turned down in the 17th minute. After Charsley found Will Evans in behind the Rover's defence, he squared the ball to the feet of Omar Bogle who was tugged to the ground Moore-Taylor.

Midway through the half, Shane McLoughlin went close for County with a far-post cross that nearly found its way into the top right corner, only for a touch from Luke Daniels denying the defender from distance.

Against the run of play, the visitors doubled their lead in the 33rd minute. After County failed to deal with a long ball up-field, McAllister threaded a lovely ball into the path of Matty Steven who made no mistake firing past the advancing Townsend.

With just seven minutes of the half remaining, Coughlan turned to his bench with Palmer-Houlden entering the fray in place of Baker in an attacking change. The Bristol City loanee nearly made an immediate impact, calving his way through the Forest Green backline before his square pass to Evans was well cut out by Ryan Inniss.

Just before half-time, James Clarke made an overlapping run behind Payne with the two defenders combining well, although the former could only see an effort comfortably saved by Daniels in the visitors’ net.

Half Time

The second period began with Rovers on the front foot going immediately close inside the first three minutes. Stevens’ flick-on inside the box found Morton but he was unable to capitalise from close range. Just seconds later, however, they were reduced to ten men when Callum Jones received a second bookable offence.

At the other end, the Exiles were continuing to create numerous opportunities the latest coming from Evans who delivered a high cross from the left with the on-running Palmer-Houlden unable to reach it at the far post.

The Exiles were rewarded for their pressure in the 60th minute and found a way back into the game. Clarke received the ball from deep out wide before producing an in-swing cross which found Evans who swept home his 14th goal of the campaign.

With their tales up, County continued to build momentum with the home crowd behind them and levelled the game just three minutes later. Payne beat his defender out wide before picking out Evans lurking at the far post to net his second of the afternoon.  

County completed a remarkable turnaround just eight minutes after their opening goal through Payne who netted just his second goal of the season in the 68th minute. McLoughlin's cross-field pass found the defender who unleashed an unbelievable volley beyond Daniels to hand Coughlan’s men the lead in the tie.

With ten minutes of the contest remaining, Rovers applied pressure through a series of corners. The most notable corner saw McAllister pick out substitute Tyrese Omotoye, but he could only direct an effort well wide of the target.

The Exiles made sure of the points with six minutes of the game remaining. McLoughlin’s near post corner scrambled across the box with Delaney making amends from his mistake in the first half to ensure County returned to winning ways in Sky Bet League Two.

Full Time

The Exiles return to Sky Bet League Two action on Friday night as they host Crewe Alexandra at Rodney Parade (7.45pm).

Newport County: Townsend, Delaney (C), Clarke, Baker (Palmer-Houlden 37’), Payne (Lewis 89’), McLoughlin, Bennett, Morris, Charsley (Bondswell 77’), Evans, Bogle.

Substitutes: Maxted, Waite, Wood, Rai.

Forest Green Rovers: Daniels, Inniss (Welch 86’), McAllister, McCann (Bernard 68’), Stevens (Brown 56’), Moore-Taylor (C), Robson, Dabo (Lavinier 86’), Bunker, Jones, Morton (Omotoye 68’).

Substitutes: Searle, Bernard, Jenks.

Attendance: 4,576 (274 away)