NEWPORT County AFC won for the first time at Rodney Parade this season thanks to James Clarke’s late header against Walsall.

The centre-back scored with five minutes to go to ensure the Exiles got the three points that their performance deserved.

Defender Mickey Demetriou put County in front after a goalmouth scramble in the ninth minute and County went on to dominate the first half.


However, Matty Dolan saw a penalty saved on the stroke of half-time and Walsall made the most of their escape to level through Tyrese Shade in injury time.

It remained level-pegging until Clarke powered in a header from a cross by fellow former Saddler Cameron Norman at the death.

Here are the talking points from Rodney Parade…


County were dreadful against Northampton on Tuesday and excellent in the first half against Walsall.

It was a display that deserved a 2-0 lead only for the game to swing on a penalty save. It was more even after the break but the Exiles still edged it, with young Brighton goalkeeper Carl Rushworth pulling off some tremendous saves.

But that first half hour was the blueprint for County and provides real optimism for the rest of the season; they shifted the ball nicely, rotated positions, played with energy and weren’t afraid to have a crack at goal.

Of course, the selection made a big difference with central defender Dolan and midfielder Ed Upson bringing a sense of calm on the ball.

That freed up Ollie Cooper to pick up some nice positions, the wing-backs had freedom and County looked better with a more traditional front pairing of Alex Fisher and Dom Telford.

South Wales Argus: DOWNED: Walsall goalkeeper Carl Rushworth falls after a challenge by County's James ClarkeDOWNED: Walsall goalkeeper Carl Rushworth falls after a challenge by County's James Clarke


County are yet to name an unchanged team this season but, fitness permitting, that should change at Barrow.

The tactics will be tinkered with but those that produced the goods against Walsall deserve to keep their spots.

County have a big squad but it’s essential that the message is that you keep the shirt by playing well and lose it when standards drop.

No doubt Courtney Baker-Richardson would love to face his former team after doing well off the bench while Chris Missilou and Finn Azaz also did well as subs.

But those in the XI would have every right to be miffed if they aren’t on from the first whistle at Holker Street.

South Wales Argus: IMPRESSIVE: Aaron LewisIMPRESSIVE: Aaron Lewis


Aaron Lewis finished last season superbly to earn the start down the right flank, leading to Liam Shephard shifting to right-sided centre-back.

The 23-year-old has had a frustrating start to the season, getting the nod in the Carabao Cup against Ipswich and Southampton plus the EFL Trophy win against Plymouth but missing out on the XI for the league.

His return came down the left rather than the right after Ryan Haynes’ under-par performance against Northampton.

Lewis had a chance to impress and grasped it energetically, with a statement of intent early on when whipping in a ball that just eluded Dom Telford.

The former Wales Under-21s international is a lovely footballer, he pressed Walsall without the ball and got forward with it.

One minor gripe, Lewis has the ability to put in good balls with his left foot and should trust it more rather than checking back to his right so often.

But he’s back in the starting line-up and it’s up to him to keep Haynes on the bench.


County’s penalty came when Walsall had been braced for a long throw and County’s winner came when Walsall had been braced for a long throw.

On both occasions Norman put in dangerous balls, the first from the right and the second from the left.

Aaron Lewis also caught the Saddlers napping with a quick throw and it’s clear that the threat of the ball being launched into the box is as dangerous as the act itself, freeing up space elsewhere.

County levelled against Leyton Orient when Mickey Demetriou flicked on a throw for Dom Telford then Robbie Willmott scored at Harrogate after a throw was cleared back to Norman.

Added to that, Demetriou’s goal came from a corner, as did Scot Bennett’s at Harrogate.