NEWPORT County AFC continue to climb League Two after making it four wins on the spin with a 3-0 triumph at Walsall.

The Exiles gave a treat to the sizeable Amber Army at Bescot Stadium with a comprehensive victory to climb to 11th, just four points off the play-offs.

Graham Coughlan’s side took command thanks to Bryn Morris’ opener in the fourth minute, with the help of a slight deflection off a defender, then Will Evans’ solo effort in the 15th.

County led 3-0 at the break thanks to Harry Charsley’s well-placed header after 37 minutes then avoided any second-half scares to take the spoils, with the Saddlers’ Newport-born goalkeeper Owen Evans somewhat harshly dismissed late on for handling outside his area.

Here are some talking points from the West Midlands…

South Wales Argus: PRESSURE: Seb Palmer-Houlden was a menace with and without the ballPRESSURE: Seb Palmer-Houlden was a menace with and without the ball (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


County dug deep for victory against Swindon when they had been flat because of the circus and then spirited performance against Manchester United.

Having a free Tuesday allowed them to hit reset and it clearly did them the power of good – they were on it from the first whistle at the Bescot.

Hard-pressing County stamped their authority on the game, got their opener, weathered a mini-bout of pressure and then doubled the lead.

Walsall blew their chance to change the narrative when Mo Faal fired wastefully wide after a Ryan Delaney error then Charsley struck.

The last two Saturdays have shown the importance of confidence in different ways, getting out of jail against Swindon thanks to their belief and then bossing it at Walsall.

A few weeks ago I would have said this County side were a little bit short of being a play-off side – lacking a little bit of guile and the ability to produce some magic? – but I’m starting to reassess that view.

I certainly will be if they have a good week against Notts County and Gillingham.

The results of Forest Green and Sutton are no longer of major significance for the Exiles, who for the record have a 21-point gap to the relegation zone.

It’s just a shame that at this stage there only looks to be one play-off spot, currently held by surprise package Harrogate, up for grabs.

South Wales Argus: DELIGHT: Will Evans slammed in County's second at WalsallDELIGHT: Will Evans slammed in County's second at Walsall (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Evans hit 21 for the season in Walsall and needs three more to become a 20-goal striker in League Two.

Plenty has been written about the 26-year-old this season but his goal at the Bescot encapsulated his turnaround from grafter to marksman.

There is still the big work rate – the pressing by both forwards created this opportunity – but now there is the composure, and selfishness.

Evans took a touch past Donervon Daniels and then absolutely belted it with control past his namesake Owen.

Last season he was thrashing at openings when scoring 4 times in 52 games whereas now he is confident and finishing with conviction.

With 20 goals to his name, there was no chance of Evans trying to find Aaron Wildig in support despite it being a tight(ish) angle.

South Wales Argus: COMMANDING: Ryan Delaney climbs high at the back for CountyCOMMANDING: Ryan Delaney climbs high at the back for County (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


County made it nine clean sheets for the season in the West Midlands (seven in League Two) and it wasn’t just those in tracksuits in the dugout that were urging concentration.

“No fouls,” James Clarke shouted from halfway when they were looking to pin Walsall in their final third just five minutes after the restart.

Captain Delaney used some choice words when there was a lack of a shout for Charsley near the corner as the clock was killed at the start of added time.

The experienced pair have been impressive in recent weeks whether it has been Scot Bennett or young Matt Baker with them in the central trio, so much so that it is hard to see where Kyle Jameson and Declan Drysdale fit into this XI when fit.

The Exiles have kept three of their clean sheets since the turn of the year and in those eight fixtures the only team to have scored more than one goal is Manchester United.

County just about got the balance right in the second half; they didn’t completely shut up shop and still carried an attacking threat that could have made it four with a bit more composure on the counter.

Their three-goal lead was never really in danger and they ensured that Walsall didn’t get a goal to give a bit of belief to a miffed home crowd, some of whom booed the efforts of the announcer to whip up the atmosphere when the Saddlers returned to the field.

Like a cricketer building towards a century in 10s, County dealt with the second 45 minutes in chunks to secure the spoils and then finished the job by ensuring it was a ‘Walsall 0’.

South Wales Argus: THREE: County celebrate Harry Charsley's headerTHREE: County celebrate Harry Charsley's header (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The options suddenly available to Coughlan were shown by Newcastle loanee Matty Bondswell sitting next to youngsters Harrison Bright and Kiban Rai in the stands.

They weren’t there to cheer on their teammates while injured, the trio had made the relatively short trip to the West Midlands as travelling reserves.

One of them – presumably Bondswell – could get the call for Tuesday’s matchday squad after Aaron Wildig was forced off after suffering an ankle injury in the opening minutes.

The midfielder tried to play on after hobbling and then having his right foot strapped but it wasn’t deemed worth the risk. Fingers crossed Wildig, who has been impressive in recent weeks, gets good news.

The swift turnaround to Notts County means the 31-year-old could well be an absentee with Charsley the natural replacement in the XI.

Other than that it will probably be ‘same again’, and that’s another sign of why the Exiles are on a hot streak.

Coughlan and his coaching staff have been able to show consistency of selection and allow combinations to develop.

Perhaps the schedule in the coming weeks will force a shift in policy but it’s likely to be tinkering and occasional rotation rather than big changes.

You know what you are going to get with County, and that’s a joy after the autumn struggles.