NEWPORT County AFC will head to Forest Green with a 2-0 lead in the League Two play-offs after Matty Dolan and Lewis Collins sent 900 supporters home extremely happy.

Rodney Parade hosted fans for the first time this season and the punters won’t have cared about getting wet in the rain on the way back thanks to a superb first leg for the Exiles.

Of course, there is still work to do in the second leg at the New Lawn but Michael Flynn will hope his side aren’t left to rue missed chances to turn a terrific night into an incredible one.

Dolan, one of the stars of the season, probably would have been sat in the makeshift tent housing the substitutes were it not for Joss Labadie’s knee injury.

The skipper’s deep cut meant he was in from the off and produced a wonderful goal on the half hour to put the Exiles in front.

Dolan slammed home his seventh of the season, and first from open play, to go clear of Scott Twine and Padraig Amond as the club’s top scorer in the league.

County led 1-0 at half-time and doubled their advantage in the 56th minute when promising forward Lewis Collins scored the biggest goal of his career – well, he’d only scored one before – with a well-timed run and finish.

A wonderful block by goalkeeper Tom King kept the two-goal advantage and then the Exiles were left lamenting missed chances to really take command, Amond, Aaron Lewis and sub Nicky Maynard failing to work the keeper.

South Wales Argus: CELEBRATION: Lewis Collins scored the secondCELEBRATION: Lewis Collins scored the second

Nonetheless, it was a super win to leave the Amber Army hopeful of seeing one more game this season in the grand surroundings of Wembley.

There was drama at 7.15pm when the team were named and the Exiles didn’t feature captain Labadie, who had been declared fit by assistant coach Wayne Hatswell on the Monday morning media call after the midfielder had suffered a cut knee at Southend.

His place went to player of the season contender Dolan with fit-again defender Priestley Farquharson on the bench.

Flynn resisted the temptation to tinker with the back three, putting Dolan in midfield and leaving Scott Bennett at the heart of the defence.

The fun and games weren’t limited to those in amber, Forest Green featured former County striker Jamille Matt on the bench.

The targetman, who had scored in both previous games against the Exiles on his way to being nominated for League Two player of the season, hadn’t featured since a gruesome hand injury at the end of March.

It was emotional to hear supporters in the stands but the players had a job to do – and the Exiles could have been in front inside a minute.

Season ticket holders got to see in person one of Flynn’s gripes of the season about chances being missed with Amond firing over left-footed with 44 seconds on the clock after strike partner Lewis Collins got onto a long ball.

More evidence came after seven minutes when Collins was played in by Amond, the 20-year-old cut onto his right but fired straight at Luke McGee.

County should have been 2-0 up but it remained goalless against a Rovers side content to sit out and then counter if the hosts were sloppy when playing out.

Forest Green grew into the game and it took a fine tackle by Josh Sheehan to deny Aaron Collins as he burst towards the box and then in the 21st minute Aaron Lewis was on hand to clear a dangerous cross by Jayden Richardson after he burst down the right.

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There was a hint of frustration but that all changed on the half hour with a goal of the season contender, with Dolan’s thumping drive made all the better by the crowd noise and wild celebrations.

It was started by Collins, who chased what looked like a lost cause, forced a defensive error and found Sheehan, who rolled the ball to his fellow midfielder on his favoured left.

The strike was true and flew past McGee into the top right corner – some fans on the North Terrace got wet but had the best view in the ground.

Forest Green responded well, and Odin Bailey clipped the top of the bar with a free-kick on the edge of the box, but County deservedly led 1-0 at the break.

They could have doubled the advantage a minute after the resumption but Amond, who has been full of energy but failing to fire in front of goal, shot well over from the edge of the box after being played in by Mickey Demetriou.

After 54 minutes it was Rovers’ turn to go close with a wonderful ball in from the left by Baily Cargill glanced just past the post by Aaron Collins.

One brother went close, then the other scored.

Right wing-back Aaron Lewis stole the ball in the middle of the park and played a peach of a pass through to Lewis Collins, who made no mistake with his left foot even if the finish looked rather untidy.

It was his last act – he limped off to be replaced by physical striker Ryan Taylor.

County were lucky to still have a two-goal buffer after 65 minutes when Liam Shephard decided to play his way out of trouble but instead played his side into it.

Collins could have shot but opted to lay the ball off to Bailey and ‘keeper King raced off his line to make a huge block.

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Rovers were putting the squeeze on yet it could, perhaps should, have been 3-0 after 75 minutes when a poor clearance fell to Amond but he could only lob onto the roof of the net.

Matt then came on with Farquharson called from the bench at the same time for the flagging Dolan and then another opening was wasted, Lewis failing to test McGee after meeting a Sheehan cross with his left.

The clock was County’s friend with the fans helping their side towards the finish line.

Maynard mirrored Amond in failing to hit the target but 2-0 will do nicely, but there will be twists and turns in Gloucestershire.

County: King, Shephard, Bennett, Demetriou, Lewis, Haynes, Dolan (Farquharson 75), Sheehan (captain), Hartigan, Collins (Taylor 60), Amond (Maynard 89).

Substitutes not used: Townsend, Ledley, Ellison, Gambin.

Yellow: Sheehan.

Goals: Dolan, Collins

Forest Green: McGee, Wilson, Bernard, Stokes (captain), Cargill, Collins, Moore-Taylor, Bailey, Wagstaff, Godwin-Malife, Richardson.

Substitutes: Thomas, Sweeney, Cadden, Allen, Matt, Young, Davison.

Yellow: Bernard Referee: Charles Breakspear