MANAGER Graham Coughlan said Newport County AFC were “different class” when beating Harrogate 4-1 in League Two.

The Exiles responded to their 3-0 defeat at Milton Keynes Dons by hammering the Sulphurites at Wetherby Road.

Top scorer Will Evans opened the scoring on the half hour from the penalty spot – his 20th league goal of the campaign – and Offrande Zanzala quickly made it 2-0 from close range.

The fit-again striker struck six minutes after the restart and then Seb Palmer-Houlden smashed in a fourth before George Thomson’s late consolation.

Victory lifts County to 10th in the congested table, just two points behind Walsall in the final play-off berth.

“It was a hell of a victory and performance that shouldn’t be under-estimated at a tough place like Harrogate,” said Coughlan.

“I thought we were different class. That would push the Walsall performance [a 3-0 win at Bescot Stadium] close. We were brilliant.

“We were all annoyed on Saturday with our performance levels. We let a lot of fans down and were determined not to do that again, so that victory was for them because they’ve been brilliant this season and they have travelled a very long way to be here on a Tuesday night.”

Evans has scored 24 goals in all competitions and passed 20 in League Two to follow in the footsteps of Dom Telford, who in 2022 became the first player to hit the milestone for County since John Aldridge in 1984.

The top scorer, who is three behind Notts County’s Macauley Langstaff in the race for the division’s golden boot, was cool from the spot but Coughlan also pointed to his failure to hit the target with first-half headers.

“John Aldridge was an unbelievable player and Dom Telford knew how to score a goal or two as well for the club, so I’m delighted for Will to be mentioned in the same breath,” said the manager.

“But I will pat him on the back now and then ask him for more and remind him of the other ones he could have had tonight. Hopefully, he can get a few more now and help us finish the season strongly.”

Harrogate boss Simon Weaver made four changes to his starting XI in a bid to freshen his ranks but admitted the decision backfired, with the team not managing a shot on target until “rested” sub Thomson grabbed a 78th-minute consolation.

“We were well short of the standards we have tried to maintain over recent months,” Weaver declared. “We didn’t show enough of those facets and made a poor start.

“We didn’t set the tempo and I blame myself for the team that I picked. I thought a few needed a bit of a rest but we did not get the desired response and looked lightweight, so deserved the result.

“It did not look right from the off. We looked out of sync and we have hit the buffers a bit now.

“Our confidence looked short and we were not up to the standard required at both ends of the pitch, so this has to be a wake-up call because I have to be honest with how poor we were.”