Twelve months ago today, Graham Coughlan was revealed as the manager of Newport County. We've taken a look back at some of the highlights from his first year in charge.
Coughlan spoke to the press at Rodney Parade for the first time, telling us that he was honest and hard-working, promising to roll his sleeves up, and dig deep. All of which are qualities that have always defined Newport County as a club.
365 days later, he has stayed true to his promise, breathing life into the side as he comfortably took us to a 15th place finish last season.
Over the past year, he has overcome every challenge that has been thrown at him, whether it's an ever-growing injury list, players departing, or higher-level opposition coming to Rodney Parade.
To celebrate his one-year anniversary at the club, we have taken a look back at his first 12 months in charge.
Newport County 1-0 Colchester (Rodney Parade, 22nd October 2022)
It didn’t take long for Coughlan’s influence to become apparent. He inherited a team that was on a very poor run of form. We had only registered one win in eight and found ourselves 18th in the table. Our previous three matches had all ended in defeat.
Will Evans, a player who has become a talisman at the club since Coughlan took over, give us an early taste of what he had to offer, hitting a seventh-minute goal against Colchester at Rodney Parade to hand us our first win in eight and getting our season back on track.
Crewe Alexandra 1-2 Newport County (Gresty Road, 2nd December 2022)
The good times continued to roll with Coughlan in charge, and he gave us an early Christmas present on December 2nd when we visited Crewe Alexandra. This was Coughlan’s sixth game in charge, with us winning two, drawing two, and losing one of the first five.
This was an excellent early example of the kind of fight his teams would come to display, registering our first away win of his reign in dramatic fashion.
After falling behind to a Lachlan Brook goal, second-half-goals from Cameron Norman and Offrande Zanzala, the latter in the 85th minute, saw us win 2-1.
A cold Tuesday night win, hours away from home, in dramatic fashion, is exactly the kind of gritty result that has gone on to define Coughlan’s time at Newport. Gritty, unforgiving and determined.
End of the 22/23 Season
Coughlan took charge 15 games into last season, and it’s fair to say that he did an exceptional job of 'steadying the ship'. Any worries of the dreaded r-word were long settled, with Coughlan picking up 46 points from the 93 available to him. Over the course of a full season, this would have seen us pick up enough points for a playoff spot if not an automatic spot.
We finished the league in 15th place, an incredible first season in charge, with fans looking ahead to the start of a full campaign under the new gaffer.
A summer of change
Coughlan’s first summer at Newport was certainly a busy one. We lost four players, including notable names like Mickey Demetriou, Cameron Norman, Aaron Lewis, Priestley Farquharson.
He quickly set about rectifying this, utilising his contacts to bring in a selection of top-quality summer signings, including the likes of Bryn Morris and Shane McLoughlin. McLoughlin also kickstarted a trend of Irish players joining the club; fellow Irishman Josh Seberry and Ryan Delaney also joined, giving a sprinkle of that Irish charm to the squad.
Newport County 3-1 Charlton (Rodney Parade, 8th August 2023)
No Newport manager would be complete without a memorable cup win under their belt. Coughlan achieved it at the first time of asking in the Carabao Cup when we welcomed League One Charlton Athletic to Rodney Parade in August.
Dean Holden’s men were put to the sword thanks to excellent goals from Aaron Wildig, Will Evans, and Seb Palmer Houlden saw us come back from 1-0 down to win 3-1.
Newport County 1-1 Brentford (Rodney Parade 29th August 2023)
After beating Charlton in the first round of the Carabao Cup, we were rewarded with a tie against Premier League outfit, Brentford in the second leg.
The Bees arrived at Rodney Parade and put on a display of their style, but they were not ready for the fight that we put up. After taking the lead in the 87th minute through Mathias Jensen, Brentford thought they had the win tied up. However, Kiban Rai had other ideas, heading home his first goal for the club in front of a jubilant home terrace, sending Rodney Parade into the raptures and giving us one of the most iconic moments of Coughlan’s reign so far.
Unfortunately, things weren’t to be on the night, with us losing 3-0 on penalties, but this was still a memorable night under the Rodney Parade lights, with Rai’s goal living long in the memory of those in attendance.
Times are changing at Newport County, and the future looks brighter than ever before. With the potential arrival of Huw Jenkins off the pitch and the steady leadership of Graham Coughlan on it, who knows what the next 12 months will have in store.
Here’s to the next year. Sláinte, gaffer!