FIT-AGAIN Offrande Zanzala wants to give boss Graham Coughlan something different up front as Newport County AFC aim to pull off a League Two surprise.

The Exiles host leaders Mansfield on Saturday in high spirits after a midweek win at Harrogate that pushed them up to 10th in the table, just two points off the play-offs.

Zanzala scored twice in the 4-1 triumph at Wetherby Road on an emotional night for the striker after he came through “dark moments” on the comeback trail.

The 27-year-old made his first start in Yorkshire since rupturing knee ligaments in February 2023, then scored for the first time in 14 months.

Zanzala came into the XI alongside top scorer Will Evans because Coughlan opted to give teenage Bristol City loanee Seb Palmer-Houlden a breather.

Poacher Luke Jephcott came off the bench, lively Kiban Rai missed out on the matchday squad and last season’s leading marksman Omar Bogle is nearing a return from injury.

Zanzala’s goals came from close range but he also held the ball up well – sparking the move for his first with neat link-up play – and drove forward with the ball at his feet.

Nonetheless, the most likely starting partnership against the Stags is 20-goal Evans and hard-working Palmer-Houlden, with the boss having bench firepower.

“Will is doing very well and Seb got a goal as well,” said Zanzala after his brace. “The options are very good for the gaffer and we have Omar coming back.

“We are different players and it's good to see that people can get on the scoresheet; there are goals coming from left, right and centre.”

Those options come at the perfect time as County look to finish the season strongly and potentially enjoy a bid for the play-offs.

They are on 49 points and Coughlan insists their target is beating last year’s tally of 57, but the top seven is within striking distance.

The Exiles come up against pace-setting Mansfield on Saturday and then head to second-placed Stockport; two tough tests but they are in fine form with 23 points from their last 11 games since Christmas (seven wins, two draws, two defeats).

South Wales Argus: FINISH: Offrande Zanzala strikes for Newport CountyFINISH: Offrande Zanzala strikes for Newport County (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“There are 12 games left and we have a target as a team of pushing as high as we can,” said Zanzala, who helped Exeter to promotion from League Two in 2022.

“You never know, with how tight it is in the league we could surprise a few teams. We want to keep progressing and get on a run to get as many points as we can.”

Zanzala is thrilled to be part of the run-in after enduring injury torment that has limited him to 23 appearances for the club.

The striker made an explosive start to his County career in 2022/23 before being hit by hamstring trouble twice and then a serious knee injury last February.

“You want to be on the pitch as much as you can, playing games and being amongst the team,” said Zanzala. “It's part of football, injuries happen and mentally you have to be strong, which I have been.

“I have done it before plenty of times so focused on taking it day by day, week by week and have the view of the light at the end of the tunnel.”

"I think you could tell from the celebration it was a relief for myself, my family and my friends working hard through all these months that have gone by,” he continued.

“I have had dark moments where I have had to be mentally strong. I have had to overcome it and the staff have been brilliant.”

Zanzala and central defender Kyle Jameson, who made his first start since August, will be monitored closely by the conditioning staff ahead of the Stags fixture.