League Two - Play-offs - 1st Leg
NewportNewport County2Forest GreenForest Green Rovers0

League Two play-offs Newport County 2-0 Forest Green Rovers

By Michael PearlmanBBC Sport Wales at Rodney Parade
Newport goal celebration
Despite playing most of the season as a defender, Matt Dolan's goal makes him Newport's top scorer this season with seven goals

Newport County took a big step towards the League Two play-off final with a 2-0 first leg victory over Forest Green as fans returned to sport in Wales.

The Exiles took the lead on 31 minutes when Matt Dolan hammered home a stunning left-footed effort from 25 yards that flew into the net.

Lewis Collins - playing against older brother Aaron - doubled the advantage after the break with a cool finish.

Collins had missed Forest Green's best chance when he flashed a header wide.

The match saw supporters return to a sporting event in Wales for the first time in 438 days, with 900 home fans in attendance.

The support clearly gave Newport an early lift and they could have led after only 45 seconds, but Padraig Amond fired over from the edge of the area.

Amond's strike partner Collins also missed a fine chance on eight minutes as Luke McGee saved with his legs.

Perhaps it was little surprise that for much of the first half there was little to separate the two sides, who were hard to split all season.

Only goal difference separated these two teams in the League Two table at the end of the regular season, although it was Forest Green's slump in form - including a six-game winless run through late March and early April which cost Mark Cooper his job - which left the Nailsworth club to rely on the lottery of the play-offs for promotion.

However, there was nothing interim boss Jimmy Ball's side could do about falling behind in a fixture switched to Newport due to upcoming work planned on the troublesome Rodney Parade pitch.

Newport's opener was a goal that would have graced any game, with Dolan's 25-yard strike flying into the top corner after Josh Sheehan laid the ball back.

The goal was probably merited with the visitors menacing on the break, but only breaching Newport when Odin Bailey's free-kick clipped the crossbar just before the interval.

A golden chance to equalise, however, was spurned when Aaron Collins - playing against his former and hometown club as well as his brother - headed right across the face of goal in a moment that proved pivotal.

Within 60 seconds of the older Collins brothers' miss, Newport doubled their lead when the younger Collins brother raced clear from a long goal kick and calmly clipped the ball past McGee.

Newport goalkeeper Tom King then made an outstanding save to deny Bailey after Collins' cross, while Amond, with a chip onto the roof of the net and Aaron Lewis with a shot dragged wide, missed golden chances to effectively put Newport out of sight in the final 15 minutes.

Newport County boss Michael Flynn told BBC Sport Wales:

"I thought it was a very good performance but I am a little bit angry we didn't kill the tie off.

"I am not getting carried away. We had a chance to put this to bed and we didn't.

"I will be on the boys to make sure they stay at their best in the second leg, because they will need to be.

"We should have scored more, but I have been saying that all season. If Forest Green score first in the second leg they are right back in it. They are a very dangerous team."

Forest Green interim boss Jimmy Ball told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:

"There is a lot of football to be played and 2-0 is not a comfortable place to be by any means.

"I would have liked one of our chances to go in, we hit the bar, Aaron Collins had one flash past the post and the goalkeeper made a top class save. There were chances for us and it isn't over.

"Newport could have put it to bed. We were a bit jittery and turned the ball over a lot and that isn't like us.

"But I believe in these boys. I have absolute faith in them. We have to lick our wounds and show some grit. Hopefully our fans will have as big an effect as the Newport ones did tonight."

Line-ups

Newport

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1King
  • 32Shephard
  • 17Bennett
  • 28Demetriou
  • 14Lewis
  • 20Hartigan
  • 10SheehanBooked at 45mins
  • 8DolanSubstituted forFarquharsonat 75'minutes
  • 3Haynes
  • 9AmondSubstituted forMaynardat 90'minutes
  • 21CollinsSubstituted forTaylorat 61'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Farquharson
  • 16Gambin
  • 18Maynard
  • 22Ellison
  • 29Taylor
  • 30Townsend
  • 34Ledley

Forest Green

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1McGee
  • 2Wilson
  • 22Godwin-Malife
  • 5Stokes
  • 6Cargill
  • 25RichardsonSubstituted forCaddenat 61'minutes
  • 3BernardBooked at 19minsSubstituted forSweeneyat 62'minutes
  • 15Moore-Taylor
  • 17Bailey
  • 10CollinsSubstituted forDavisonat 84'minutes
  • 21WagstaffSubstituted forMattat 75'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Sweeney
  • 11Cadden
  • 12Allen
  • 14Matt
  • 18Young
  • 23Davison
  • 24Thomas
Referee:
Charles Breakspear
Attendance:
900

Match Stats

Home TeamNewportAway TeamForest Green
Possession
Home45%
Away55%
Shots
Home12
Away7
Shots on Target
Home3
Away2
Corners
Home3
Away4
Fouls
Home12
Away17

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Newport County 2, Forest Green Rovers 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Newport County 2, Forest Green Rovers 0.

  3. Post update

    Chris Stokes (Forest Green Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Ryan Taylor (Newport County).

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Nicky Maynard (Newport County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Anthony Hartigan.

  6. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Josh Sheehan (Newport County) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Kane Wilson (Forest Green Rovers).

  8. Post update

    Josh Sheehan (Newport County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Nicky Maynard (Newport County) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Josh Sheehan with a cross following a corner.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Newport County. Conceded by Jordan Moore-Taylor.

  11. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Nicky Maynard (Newport County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Anthony Hartigan.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Newport County. Conceded by Odin Bailey.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Chris Stokes (Forest Green Rovers).

  14. Post update

    Ryan Taylor (Newport County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Newport County. Nicky Maynard replaces Padraig Amond.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Jamille Matt (Forest Green Rovers).

  17. Post update

    Liam Shephard (Newport County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Jordan Moore-Taylor (Forest Green Rovers).

  19. Post update

    Scot Bennett (Newport County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Forest Green Rovers. Josh Davison replaces Aaron Collins.

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