IT was an up and down season for Newport County AFC featuring a managerial change, a promotion charge and then disappointment in the push for the play-offs.

The Exiles got under way in League Two with a dramatic victory at Oldham Athletic under Michael Flynn and ended with defeat to Rochdale in a dead rubber after James Rowberry’s side spluttered in the run-in.

County finished 11th in the table with a record of 19 wins, 12 draws and 15 defeats, with 69 points their third highest effort since returning to the Football League.

They caused another upset when beating League One Ipswich in the Carabao Cup at Portman Road to earn a home clash with Premier League Southampton… which ended in an 8-0 thrashing at Rodney Parade.

Here are some of the highs and lows from 2021/22…

South Wales Argus: JOY: County beat Tranmere 4-2 in a Rodney Parade crackerJOY: County beat Tranmere 4-2 in a Rodney Parade cracker


County headed into February’s home game against Tranmere after a battling draw with Mansfield.

Rovers came to Rodney Parade with a formidable defensive record that had lifted them into the mix for the top three but County triumphed 4-2 after showing resilience and character.

It was goalless at the break but Aaron Lewis and Dom Telford put the Exiles in control only for them to shoot themselves in the foot.

Tranmere levelled with a scuffed finish and a deflection but Rowberry’s side rallied impressively to get the win.

Finn Azaz scored a sensational goal from distance and then Telford added a fourth in added time.

The victory boosted the confidence and sparked the run that had us dreaming of the top three.


County sold out their allocation for the shortest trip of the season to Bristol Rovers in mid-October.

It was a perfect start to the James Rowberry era with a 3-1 hammering that could have been even more comprehensive (Northampton must now wish it had been).

There was a sign of what was to come under the new boss when County lost Matty Dolan to injury early on – Finn Azaz was called from the bench to join Ollie Cooper, Jake Cain and Robbie Willmott in midfield.

The Exiles were 2-1 up at half-time thanks to goals by Courtney Baker-Richardson and Dom Telford, who scored his second just past the hour.

County pressed, harried and broke with pace against a stunned Rovers side.


It was a glorious sunny afternoon in Salford in August but things turned gloomy for County inside the first minute.

Priestley Farquharson was caught in possession and Tyreik Wright slotted with the opener followed by a Conor McAleny cracker and another gift when Scot Bennett was short with a back-pass to allow Ian Henderson to make it 3-0.

It was a shambolic performance just days after the thrashing by Southampton, prompting the home fans to chant “we want eight”. It could easily have been that bad had Salford been more cutthroat.

Flynn, who missed the game while isolating because of Covid, later revealed that some individuals had gone on to test positive.

"There were players who felt really run down and low on energy,” he said to provide a mitigating factor for a horrendous display.

Given what was at stake, the Crawley and Colchester games in the run-in were more deflating but this was the worst performance.

South Wales Argus: THRILLER: County went 3-2 up at Walsall but had to share the spoilsTHRILLER: County went 3-2 up at Walsall but had to share the spoils


The first half at Walsall on New Year’s Day was pretty standard stuff with County heading to their changing room 1-0 up thanks to Dom Telford. The second half was bonkers.

Conor Wilkinson levelled with his first touch after coming on for a corner then promptly put into his own net.

Matty Dolan’s shanked clearance made it 2-2 but County responded swiftly through Telford.

Former Exiles skipper Joss Labadie was lucky not to see red for a wild tackle and Walsall went direct to go close.

Robbie Willmott was agonisingly close to sealing a win from halfway and then Wilkinson levelled in injury time with a stunning goal.

Walsall fans invaded the pitch – one amusingly clutching his bag for life – and while some may laugh at that given that it was a 3-3 draw against a team that are not fierce rivals, I don’t blame them for getting carried away.

It was a ridiculous game, one that just edges out the wild 3-2 win over Sutton in Newport.


The game at Swindon wasn’t exactly a cracker and it looked like County would have to settle for a point against promotion rivals.

Then came drama at the death when Finn Azaz raced onto a chipped ball over the top by Aaron Lewis and rounded goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott before firing in a shot/cross from the byline.

To the Aston Villa prospect’s continued disappointment it went down as an own goal after Dion Conroy slid in to try and save the day, with Dom Telford waiting to slot from a yard.

The celebrations were wild – it seemed a big moment to reignite County’s promotion push and a terminal one for Swindon’s.

Alas, League Two is mad and the Exiles are on holiday while the Robins are hunting play-off glory.


Finn Azaz won County’s official award, decided by Rowberry, for his stunning winner against Port Vale at Rodney Parade.

It was a classy moment and I wouldn’t argue, but the strike that took my breath away was Courtney Baker-Richardson’s cracker against Stevenage.

County moved the ball from defence to midfield to attack with precise passing for the striker to absolute hammer the ball in from the right edge of the box.

It was a superb hit that the television footage doesn’t do justice to – live it was breath-taking.


Wilkinson’s strike at Walsall was a cracker with the former County loanee controlling the ball with his back to goal, flicking it over a defender and then volleying in right-footed into the top right corner from the edge of the box.

The skill, composure and quality was all the more special given that it was at the death.


Why should the outfield players get all of the plaudits?

Joe Day and Nick Townsend shared the starts this season but the save that stands out was by the latter in the Rodney Parade win against Bristol Rovers.

Three points almost turned into one at the death but Townsend leaped to his left to claw out a close-range header by Luca Hoole that was destined for the top corner.

It was a sensational stop to prevent wild celebrations in the packed away end.


It wasn’t a surprise that Alex Fisher was on County’s released list after a season in Newport.

The targetman was a late addition to the squad after joining on trial in pre-season, having to play alongside the youngsters at Undy Athletic while trying to impress.

The 31-year-old made 22 appearances, eight of them starts, and his winner at Tranmere was his only league goal.

However, one of the parts of my job means that I am in grounds early enough to watch the players arrive and do their pre-match inspections.

Fisher always seemed to make sure the younger members of the squad weren’t isolated and I remember him making a big point of congratulating Evan Ovandale after the teenage goalkeeper denied him with a superb save in the warm-up at Walsall.

He would have liked to make a bigger impact in Newport but the striker seemed to be a top pro and could never be accused of lacking effort.

South Wales Argus: INFLUENTIAL: County defender Cameron NormanINFLUENTIAL: County defender Cameron Norman


Dom Telford and Finn Azaz were terrific and deserved their spots in the League Two team of the year but I’ve always said Argus readers are good judges…

Cameron Norman was voted as your pick of the bunch and I agree – the defender had a superb season down the right.

I thought that Liam Shephard would be a huge loss but Norman arrived from Walsall and slotted in magnificently.

The 26-year-old is comfortable on the ball, durable, versatile and creative, plus he has the ability to get under the skin of the opposition and their fans (he is the most fouled player in the EFL at 2.4 per game).

What a decision to get him on a two-year deal – Norman will either be a key figure or bring in a tidy sum.

What are your highs and lows of the season?