NEWPORT County AFC got back to winning ways with a hard-earned three points against Grimsby Town at Rodney Parade.

The Mariners were on top in the first half and things looked grim for the Exiles when Scot Bennett was sent off for a rash challenge on Stefan Payne after 37 minutes.

However, striker Nicky Maynard put County in front soon after the restart when he controlled a Matty Dolan long-range shot and calmly slotted.

Michael Flynn's side then defended with discipline to earn a win for the first time since they headed to Grimsby on December 8, ending an eight-game streak in League Two.

Here are the talking points from the clash at Rodney Parade…


Time will tell if it was 45 minutes that shaped County's season but this felt like a massive win.

Manager Flynn admitted after the game that he had the same sinking feeling as most supporters when Bennett was dismissed (more of that shortly).

We often have the image of harsh words and water bottles being thrown around in the changing room after a horror half, and it had been shocking by County before the red card.

On the contrary, Flynn said: "I couldn't waste my time on that, I had to sort out the shape, roles and responsibilities of the players to get a result with 10 men."

It worked a treat thanks to Maynard's strike, which was clearly onside despite Grimsby protests.

South Wales Argus:

The first goal is going to be crucial on the awful Rodney Parade pitch for the rest of the campaign – it is not a ground to be chasing the game.

County got their noses in front, played with discipline, sat back and challenged Grimsby to create, something they failed to do.

The Exiles were outside the play-offs when they got under way after Exeter kicked off at 1pm and beat Bradford. County went from eighth at 3pm to fourth at 4.58pm.

The mood changed and now the squad must back it up against Southend on Tuesday to really get the promotion push back on track.


Those glancing at League Two reports recently must wonder whether a company called '10-man' has bought naming rights to Newport County AFC like Red Bull did in Salzburg.

Scot Bennett is a solid, dependable performer in midfield yet produced a bonkers, wild moment in the context of County's January.

Some would say Josh Sheehan won the ball cleanly against Salford, it could be argued that Joss Labadie's petulant reaction at Oldham didn't make contact and was hardly savage, Liam Shephard was aggressive in Harrogate but didn't touch the attacker.

It doesn't matter, County had received three red cards in four games yet Bennett still made a challenge that gave referee Craig Hicks a call to make.

South Wales Argus: OFF: Scot Bennett is dismissedOFF: Scot Bennett is dismissed

No doubt the intention was to make a tone-changing, tough tackle after a frustrating first half but instead it was a wild, reckless one when there was no danger on halfway with David Longe-King tight on Payne.

To add to the frustration, Flynn felt the ball had gone over the touchline before the tackle.

It's stating the obvious but County's bid for League One will be derailed unless they sort out their discipline and decision-making, and it's experienced campaigners that are letting them down.


Maynard grabbed the headlines with the only goal but he wasn't the only debutant to shine.

Connah's Quay boss Andy Morrison talked excitedly about Priestley Farquharson's potential last week and then the defender delivered on his Exiles bow.

South Wales Argus: STRONG: Priestley Farquharson impressed on his Newport debutSTRONG: Priestley Farquharson impressed on his Newport debut

Powerful, quick and with solid decision-making, it was an impressive performance at right-back.

Primarily a central defender, Farquharson was brought on down the flank to add another physical presence and it worked a treat.

Flynn and Wayne Hatswell got it spot-on for the second half by switching to a flat four with a disciplined bank in front of them and a lone forward for chasing, plus their other substitutions worked well.

Scrimshaw added energy in a midfield role and he should have wrapped it up in the 89th minute only to finish poorly after his chasing forced an error.

Aaron Lewis came on to help Ryan Haynes deal with the Grimsby threat down the right, leading to Scrimshaw switching flanks. Padraig Amond freshened things up after Maynard tired up top.

It will be fascinating to see Flynn's team at 6pm on Tuesday but it will be just as interesting to see how they line up at 7pm.

They've played with three at the back throughout the season but is a more solid four the way to go on a challenging surface?

Is the physical presence of Farquharson an option at right-back for the run-in with Liam Shephard pushed forward to a midfield role when back from suspension?


Flynn said at the pre-match press conference on Friday morning that he doesn't like changing his goalkeeper. Well, Nick Townsend should be in for 21 fixtures as long as he doesn't drop a series of clangers.

The 26-year-old didn't need to produce his heroics from Salford but he was commanding and safe with his claims.

He played a key part in denying Grimsby the chance to pile on the pressure in the second half, killing the clock with catches.

Tom King was excellent against Brighton but felt he could have done better with Cheltenham's leveller and was poor in Oldham.

He could justifiably claim that he didn't get a proper run of games but Townsend is back and it would have to take a run of howlers for him to lose his spot in the run-in.

South Wales Argus:


This is a short and obvious one. County need to follow up with three more points against bottom club Southend on Tuesday.

Another ugly win would do just fine before a trip to Port Vale. Strangely, the Parade pitch will have County happy to go on the road.

Thirteen players dug deep to get Bennett off the hook against Grimsby and it will be a squad effort to turn February into a month that reignited the promotion challenge.