THAT taking Premier League Brentford to penalties is not among the main highlights of Newport County AFC’s season shows how eventful 2023/24 was.

Things are rarely dull at Rodney Parade and the Exiles swung from high to low throughout a campaign that started with fears of the drop, built towards a play-off bid and then tailed off disastrously.

Graham Coughlan’s men, stretched by a second injury crisis of the season, failed in his target to beat last year’s tally of 57 points because of an eight-game losing streak to finish.

They finished 18th in the table compared to last year’s 15th with a record of W16, D7, L23 compared to the 2023/24 effort of W14, D15, L17.

Knockout football led to a pair of Premier League sides heading to Newport with an upset against League One Charlton earning a Carabao shot at the Bees, who won on spot-kicks after Kiban Rai’s dramatic equaliser.

Manchester United were given a first scare on their run to the FA Cup final – one that Coventry eclipsed in the semis – when the Exiles fought back to level at 2-2 in a 4-2 loss.

Here are some of the highs and lows from 2023/24...

South Wales Argus: DELIGHT: Ryan Delaney and Will Evans celebrate County's win against WrexhamDELIGHT: Ryan Delaney and Will Evans celebrate County's win against Wrexham (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


There were excellent victories against Stockport, Wimbledon and Harrogate but pick of the bunch has to be Wrexham at a raucous Rodney Parade.

County were just on it in front of a bumper crowd and with Manchester United on the horizon.

They snapped into Wrexham from the first whistle, Will Boyle lost his head and saw red for a wild challenge and then Seb Palmer-Houlden scored the winner with a wonderful header.

There wasn’t a mistake on the teamsheet, Paul Mullin did actually play.

Wrexham are a strong side whose achievement in back-to-back promotions shouldn’t be downplayed despite their budget, but County made them look very ordinary and set the tone for the United game.

South Wales Argus: CRACKER: Will Evans scored the second of County's three at WalsallCRACKER: Will Evans scored the second of County's three at Walsall (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Walsall away had it all.

County hit the front early through Bryn Morris, doubled the lead when Will Evans scored a cracker and pretty much killed the game off before the break through Harry Charsley.

With the best defensive trio of Matt Baker, James Clarke and Ryan Delaney, the Exiles kept a clean sheet and could have been even bigger winners with a bit more composure on the break.

Walsall boos and jeers throughout were signs that this was a near perfect away display.


The 5-3 win against Morecambe was wonderfully bonkers.

County were good value for the win but made hard work of it despite leading 3-1 with just 20 minutes to go.

It took an important save by Nick Townsend to prevent the Shrimps going 4-3 up before a quality Harry Charsley finish and then Palmer-Houlden’s flourish with almost the final touch.

It was sensational midweek entertainment.

South Wales Argus: PROFESSIONAL: County saw off Eastleigh to earn a crack at Manchester UnitedPROFESSIONAL: County saw off Eastleigh to earn a crack at Manchester United (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Eastleigh in the FA Cup replay when County got the job done on a freezing night in Hampshire to set up the Red Devils tie.

They should have won the Newport fixture but did a professional number on the spitfires thanks to Aaron Wildig’s early goal and then, showing composure after a quality equaliser early in the second half, winning it thanks to James Clarke’s header and Will Evans’ strong finish.

The celebrations were wild after the Exiles delivered when the pressure was on.


County’s eight-game losing streak tainted what was shaping up to be a good season in which they had outperformed their budget and boosted the coffers in the cup.

Yes, there were injuries, but the way that the performances fell off was appalling and they were so flat against some ordinary sides.

Had they shown the same levels from the first half of Bradford on final day, when up against a side with an outside chance of the play-offs, then they would have ended the streak.

For most of the season you could not have questioned the attitude and application of the squad but they were just so meek in the run-in.

While in a brief section of grumpiness, Notts County, Swindon and Wrexham away were just awful.


Shane McLoughlin’s stunner against Stockport won the official award but my pick would be Bryn Morris’ cracker against Walsall at Rodney Parade.

There was good link-up play by Will Evans and Omar Bogle before the midfielder took two touches and absolutely smashed the ball into the top right from outside the area.

The television footage doesn’t do justice to a goal that was a joy to see from the Compeed Stand.


Nick Townsend had his first season where he was the regular starter, making 52 appearances out of a possible 57.

The stopper had a strong campaign and had several man of the match displays on the road.

He pulled off some ridiculous saves but the pick of the bunch was at Doncaster when, at 0-0, he managed to deny Joe Ironside by shrugging his shoulder and deflecting the shot onto the bar – it doesn’t matter how they are kept out.

What makes that the top effort is that it was followed by Seb Palmer-Houlden’s late winner.

Townsend ensured what could have been a pointless trip to Yorkshire yielded three.

South Wales Argus: FINISHER: Will Evans scored 25 goals for CountyFINISHER: Will Evans scored 25 goals for County (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


It has to be Will Evans after he went from a grafter with 4 goals in 52appearances to a finisher with 25 in 55.

He scored in six of the first seven fixtures of the season – somehow missing out on August player of the month – and had another hot streak in January and February that featured the memorable leveller against Manchester United.

That the forward finished as a makeshift left wing-back shows that he’s a team player with a terrific work ethic and it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

Evans’ season did tail off with just one goal in the 12 appearances after February but his suitors will know that they would still get the graft if the strikes aren’t coming.

Will County get any tempting offers? If not, they have to try and get a new contract sorted beyond 2025.

South Wales Argus: INFLUENTIAL: County utility man Shane McLoughlinINFLUENTIAL: County utility man Shane McLoughlin (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Bryn Morris deserves applause after starting EVERY League Two game and playing in ALL 57 fixtures, with a solitary outing from the bench when he came on at half-time in the EFL Trophy win at Cheltenham.

But Shane McLoughlin would arguably have pipped Evans to player of the year had he not suffered a calf injury at Milton Keynes in mid-February that ruled him out until his brief cameo on final day.

The Irishman scored some crackers and finished the season with six goals and eight assists.

He is both County’s best right wing-back and left wing-back (a solid leftie is essential this summer), while he’s not too shabby in midfield.

The Exiles’ run-in showed just how good McLoughlin was and he needs to be kept, and ideally convinced to sign fresh terms beyond next season.