NEWPORT County AFC manager James Rowberry hailed homegrown forward Lewis Collins for grasping his chance by starring in the absence of League Two's in-form striker.

The Exiles beat 10-man Sutton United at Rodney Parade on Tuesday night after fighting back from a 2-0 half-time deficit.

Collins sparked the comeback with a stunning goal on his first league start since September, curling in a majestic effort into the top right corner from 25 metres.

The 20-year-old played a leading role in the run-in last season, scoring his first professional goal against Scunthorpe before a strike against Forest Green Rovers in the play-off semi-finals.

The Wales Under-21s international has been a fringe figure this season but got his chance to shine when Dom Telford missed the Sutton clash after contracting coronavirus.

He got the nod ahead of targetman Alex Fisher, experienced forward Kevin Ellison, Fulham loanee Timmy Abraham and out-of-favour Jermaine Hylton.

South Wales Argus: STUNNER: Lewis Collins found the top cornerSTUNNER: Lewis Collins found the top corner

"I said to Lewis in front of all the lads that he has had a bit of an up and down time since I have been here," said Rowberry.

"He has been in and out [of the squad] but credit to him, he should be proud of himself and how he has conducted himself in the last two weeks on the training pitch.

"What he has done to try and make himself better is why he started on Tuesday, because I know what he is capable of and he proved that against Sutton.

"It's great seeing a Newport lad on the pitch as well, that pleases me even more."

Collins' bright display gives Rowberry food for thought given that Telford is set to be available to face third-placed Port Vale in Newport on Saturday.

South Wales Argus: LIVELY: Lewis Collins up front for CountyLIVELY: Lewis Collins up front for County

"It's a massive confidence booster. I showed trust in him to play and once I knew about Dom last week, my gut feeling was to play Lewis up front with Courtney [Baker-Richardson]," said Rowberry.

"I didn't mention it to him in the week because I wanted to see how he would train, and he took the bull by the horns.

"Lewis just gave us a dynamic against Sutton, he didn't stop and I am really pleased for him."