IT was little and large up front for Newport County AFC last season but things are set to change in the coming campaign.

The Exiles have a new-look forward line with Lewis Collins the sole survivor from the 2021/22 League Two season. He has been joined by summer signings Omar Bogle, Offrande Zanzala, Will Evans and Chanka Zimba.

Manager James Rowberry is committed to playing with a pair, whether in a 3-5-2 or a 4-2-2-2, and the profile will be different after the departure of diminutive golden boot winner Dom Telford.

Against both Torquay United and Forest Green Rovers in pre-season it was a Bogle-Zanzala partnership, hinting that the arrivals from Hartlepool and Barrow will get the nod in the opener at Sutton.

In this new campaign will Rowberry settle on a combination or will it be horses for courses with a change in EFL rules influencing his approach?

South Wales Argus: CONTENDER: Offrande Zanzala is one of County's five forward optionsCONTENDER: Offrande Zanzala is one of County's five forward options

County are now able to use five of their seven substitutes, meaning there is an argument for us changing our thinking when it comes to the XI being announce an hour before kick-off.

Rugby union world champions South Africa famously have their 'bomb squad' on the bench with a front row of Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch that is stronger than the starters.

Eddie Jones used the term 'finishers' rather than replacements for England, Bristol Bears put numbers 16 to 23 down as 'impact players'.

Think back to Swindon last April and the Exiles had a similar approach at the County Ground when legs were weary towards the end of a long season.

The boss started with Lewis Collins and Rob Street up front before bringing Dom Telford and Courtney Baker-Richardson off the bench.

Rowberry implemented an aggressive press after taking the reins with a front two enabling the side to win the ball higher up the pitch, squeezing the space and cutting off options.

Expect more of the same and it's up to the strikers to threaten with and without the ball to ensure they firm fixtures in the side.

But rotation will be key with the boss hoping all can chip in after Telford scored 25 goals and contributed 38 per cent of their tally.

"It doesn't matter where the goals come from as long as we get them," said Rowberry. "If it is spread across seven or eight players, great. If it's one player, great.

"As long as the goals go in, that's what matters and the lads are champing at the bit to show what they can do."

South Wales Argus: Courtney Baker-Richardson and Dom Telford formed a strong partnershipCourtney Baker-Richardson and Dom Telford formed a strong partnership

Last season County had 11 different starting combinations up front in League Two, of which only two were used more than twice.

They were both little and large partnerships with Telford and Courtney Baker-Richardson joining forces 22 times then, when Baker-Richardson was injured, Crystal Palace loanee Rob Street slotted in next to Telford on 10 occasions.

No other combination was truly trusted from the off.

Michael Flynn used eight different options in the nine games he was in charge and then caretaker boss Wayne Hatswell used the same partnership of the fit-again Baker-Richardson and back-in-favour Telford in all four games.

James Rowberry took the reins in mid-October and went with two up top throughout.

He went with Telford and Baker-Richardson 17, times, Street-Telford 10 times and had one dabble with Telford and Kevin Ellison, Lewis Collins and Baker-Richardson, Fisher and Baker-Richardson, Telford and Fisher, and Collins and Street.

County went with one up front on just two occasions, both under Flynn – when Timmy Abraham led the line at Mansfield on the second weekend and then Fisher got the nod at Harrogate.

Collins is the only forward to return for 2022/23 and it's up to the five hopefuls to grasp their chances when they come.

None of them head into the season with a proven track record but the same could have been said for Telford before his stunning campaign to win the golden boot with 25 goals.

Telford and Baker-Richardson brought the best out of each other and Rowberry will hope to find similar chemistry over the coming nine months.

County’s strike options

South Wales Argus:


Age: 30

Probably the man that most are looking to lead the line, and he is certainly the experienced option.

The powerful striker was under contract at Hartlepool but County made their move and will hope he can return to the goalscoring form that led to big-money moves to Wigan and Cardiff.


Age: 21

Came through the County academy and looked to have enjoyed his breakthrough moment in the 2020/21 run-in when he joined forces with Padraig Amond.

Energetic and rapid but still raw and has just three EFL goals to his name.


Age: 25

The Congolese striker headed to County fresh from a loan spell at Exeter, helping the Grecians to promotion to League One. Elusive and rapid, Zanzala has looked lively in pre-season and will want to be a main man.


Age: 20
An EFL novice, even if he did spend the second half of last season with Northampton when he would have had a promotion on his CV were it not for Scunthorpe’s controversial collapse at Bristol Rovers.

The Cardiff loanee is raw but Rowberry is confident that working in a two a playing in a different way to the industrial Cobblers will help him take his U23 scoring prowess into senior football.


Age: 25

Earned a shot thanks to his form for Bala in the Cymru Premier and his goals for Wales C in their destruction of England certainly show that he can finish.

Big step up and Evans, who is an impressive athlete, will be helped by versatility in his quest to get minutes in League Two and therefore learning opportunities.