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Report | Evans, Zanzala and Palmer-Houlden on target in Harrogate win

27 February 2024

Club News

Report | Evans, Zanzala and Palmer-Houlden on target in Harrogate win

27 February 2024

A devastating attacking display saw Newport County claim a 4-1 victory against Harrogate Town at EnviroVent Stadium on Tuesday night.

Will Evans gave the Exiles a deserved lead during the opening half with a typically unerring finish from the penalty spot – his 20th league goal of the season - before a brace from Offrande Zanzala and a late strike from Seb Palmer-Houlden saw County return to winning ways in Sky Bet League Two. 

Manager Graham Coughlan made three changes to the side that were defeated by MK Dons on the weekend, with Kyle Jameson, Lewis Payne and Zanzala coming into the starting eleven in place of Shane McLoughlin, James Waite and Palmer-Houlden. 

Declan Drysdale made his long-awaited return from injury to feature on the bench. 

Keen to make a fast start, it was the Exiles who enjoyed early spells of possession and came close inside two minutes. Zanzala, making his first start for the club in over a year, saw an effort deflect into the path of Bryn Morris who guided a strike just wide of the post. 

Minutes later, Evans was fed through in behind the Town defence but his neat cutback was well read by the well-positioned Anthony O’Connor, denying the advancing Aaron Wildig a certain opportunity from point-blank range. 

Calm and composed in possession, County created another attacking move midway through the first half. A trademark delivery from Adam Lewis from the left saw the Liverpool loan pick out Evans at the far post, though the forward was unable to connect with his high pass. Seconds later, the due combined again this time from a corner kick, with Evans glancing a downward header just wide of James Belshaw’s net. 

Continuing to apply pressure in the contest, the Exiles were awarded a penalty on the half-hour mark. Jameson’s long ball up-field was picked out by Zanzala inside the area but his touch towards goal was denied by the arm of Liam Gibson.

From the spot, Evans showed great composure to net his 20th goal of the campaign and to hand Coughlan’s men the advantage in Yorkshire. 

It was to get better for County just two minutes later. A well-worked move from the left saw Lewis pick out Wildig on the right side of the area. He forced a strong save from Belshaw but Zanzala was quickest to react sweeping home a neat finish to secure his side’s second goal of the evening. 

Before the break, the hosts calved out a brief opportunity through Josh Falkingham. The midfielder advanced into a forward position and forced an effort from distance, but a superb challenge from Payne thwarted Town’s skipper of an opportunity, as the Exiles took a deserved lead into the break. 

Half Time

It was the Exiles who made a dream start to the second half, netting their third goal of the night five minutes after the restart. Lewis’ out-swinging cross found Bennett who rose highest inside the box, steering a header into the path of Zanzala, who again steadied himself, to fire home a delightful finish to seal his brace. 

Following a persistent period of pressure, Town boss Simon Weaver rung the changes in the hope of changing his side’s fortunes in attack. 

His men reacted well, however, with Levi Sutton going close just minutes after the replacements. He was found by George Thomason but the midfielder lacked composure, firing an effort well wide of the target. 

Midway through the second period, the Exiles made a change of their own as Palmer-Houlen entered the fray in place of Zanzala to increase energy in attack.

Following the change, the Exiles came close just minutes after the restart. The Bristol City loanee showed great skill and power to set up Wildig who could only force a comfortable save from Belshaw. 

County’s persistence, however, paid off in the 70th minute when they found their fourth of the game via Palmer-Houlden. After receiving the ball out wide, the forward skilfully cut inside past Derrick Abu before guiding a solo finish into the bottom corner. 

With 12 minutes of the contest remaining, the home side did reduce the deficit with a consolation strike. Thomson, the host’s leading goalscorer netted his side’s first goal in three matches, guiding a controlled finish past the outstretched Nick Townsend. 

In the final stages, Morris tried an audacious effort from distance that flew wide in the minutes of the game that remained, as Newport saw out a comfortable win away from home.

Full Time 

The Exiles return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday afternoon when they welcome league leaders Mansfield Town to Rodney Parade (3pm). 

Harrogate Town: Belshaw, Abu, Falkingham (C) (Dooley 56’), Burrell, Cornelius (Sutton 56’’, Odoh (Bloxham 56’), Daly, O’Connor, Sivi (Thomson 50’), March (Muldoon 56’), Gibson.

Substitutes: Oxley, Mattock. 

Newport County: Townsend, Jameson (Bondswell 83’), Clarke, Baker, Lewis, Payne (Bright 83’), Bennett (C), Wildig (Waite 73’), Morris, Evans (Jephcott 73’), Zanzala (Palmer-Houlden 59’). 

Substitutes: Maxted, Drysdale. 

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