League Two - Play-offs - 2nd Leg
Forest GreenForest Green Rovers4NewportNewport County3

League Two play-offs: Forest Green Rovers 4-3 Newport County - Exiles win 5-4 on aggregate on extraordinary night

By Gareth VincentBBC Sport Wales
Kevin Ellison celebrates after his fabulous goal revived Newport's hopes of progressing to the final
Kevin Ellison celebrates after his fabulous goal revived Newport's hopes of progressing to the final

Newport County will face Morecambe in the League Two play-off final after an extraordinary 5-4 aggregate victory over Forest Green Rovers.

Nicky Maynard struck in the 119th minute to send Newport to Wembley.

Ebou Adams and Aaron Collins had wiped out the Exiles' 2-0 first-leg lead before Nicky Cadden put Forest Green 3-2 up in the second leg.

Kevin Ellison and Joss Labadie replied for Newport before Jamille Matt sent the game into extra time.

Newport had started what turned into an epic evening as firm favourites to progress thanks to last Tuesday's first-leg triumph, when goals from Matt Dolan and Lewis Collins had put them in charge of the tie.

Yet their advantage disappeared amid an early Forest Green storm, with Adams rising high at the near post to flick home Cadden's corner.

With Newport still reeling, Forest Green scored a second just 59 seconds later as Baily Cargill crossed invitingly from the left for Aaron Collins.

The Newport-born forward - and older brother of County player Lewis - volleyed goalwards with just enough power to beat Tom King, who might have done better.

Newport regrouped and came close to restoring their aggregate lead when Mickey Demetriou headed just past the post.

Aaron Collins was booked for diving as he tumbled despite no contact from King in the penalty area, before his shot ricocheted off the sliding Demetriou onto the crossbar in the last act of a breathless first half.

Forest Green went ahead in the tie for first time when Cadden's free-kick - which was a cross rather than a shot - missed everyone and curled inside King's far post.

Ebou Adams celebrates after marking his return from suspension with the opening goal
Ebou Adams celebrates scoring the first of seven goals in a memorable play-off semi-final second leg

The goal might have been disallowed as Adams, who came close to getting a touch and therefore appeared to be interfering with play, was offside when the set-piece was taken.

Newport dug deep once more and responded thanks to 42-year-old Ellison, who became the oldest goalscorer in play-off history thanks to a glorious dipping effort from 25 yards which went in off the bar.

Fellow substitute Labadie then looked to have won the tie for the visitors when he met Ryan Haynes' cross with a classy left-foot finish, but Matt - who like Aaron Collins is a former Newport player - sent the contest into extra time as he touched home from Odin Bailey's low centre.

Maynard wasted a big chance in the opening minutes of the added period, but he made no mistake at the death as he flicked the ball over Rovers keeper Luke McGee and forced it home from close range.

Interim Forest Green Rovers boss Jimmy Ball:

"I'm proud and heartbroken all at the same time. Amazing performance, a wonderful group of men who are over in that dressing room now absolutely heartbroken.

"But when you ask men to go to the well and to bare their souls and give everything they've got and they do, it's an incredible feeling.

"So mixed emotions. I hope everyone was entertained. I hope the fans coming in for their first game of the season saw a team play with bravery and take risks and leave it all out there and put it all on the line.

"We didn't achieve our goal, which is disappointing, but it gives a bit of hope."

Newport manager Mike Flynn:

"We got off to the worst possible start. I think if we'd tried to get off to that start we wouldn't have!

"The manner of the goals we conceded I am not happy with - I think all four were from crosses.

"But the way we finished the game - we looked strong and that's a credit to the players."

"If we didn't go through, what do you think my press comments would have been? Same old story this season, we haven't taken our chances and killed teams off - that's what it would have been.

"Thankfully we have managed to score enough to get to the final. Let's hope we are saving all the goals for then."

Line-ups

Forest Green

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1McGee
  • 3BernardSubstituted forWagstaffat 120+1'minutes
  • 22Godwin-Malife
  • 6Cargill
  • 2WilsonSubstituted forRichardsonat 81'minutes
  • 4Sweeney
  • 15Moore-Taylor
  • 11CaddenSubstituted forBaileyat 81'minutes
  • 8Adams
  • 10CollinsBooked at 41minsSubstituted forYoungat 81'minutes
  • 14MattSubstituted forDavisonat 98'minutes

Substitutes

  • 12Allen
  • 17Bailey
  • 18Young
  • 21Wagstaff
  • 23Davison
  • 24Thomas
  • 25Richardson

Newport

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1King
  • 32Shephard
  • 17BennettSubstituted forFarquharsonat 71'minutes
  • 28Demetriou
  • 14LewisSubstituted forEllisonat 62'minutes
  • 20HartiganSubstituted forLabadieat 45'minutes
  • 10Sheehan
  • 8DolanSubstituted forMaynardat 62'minutes
  • 3Haynes
  • 9AmondSubstituted forTaylorat 45'minutes
  • 21Collins

Substitutes

  • 4Labadie
  • 6Farquharson
  • 18Maynard
  • 22Ellison
  • 29Taylor
  • 30Townsend
  • 34Ledley
Referee:
Martin Coy
Attendance:
1,100

Match Stats

Home TeamForest GreenAway TeamNewport
Possession
Home44%
Away56%
Shots
Home13
Away14
Shots on Target
Home5
Away4
Corners
Home5
Away4
Fouls
Home21
Away20

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Forest Green Rovers 4, Newport County 3.

  2. Post update

    Second Half Extra Time ends, Forest Green Rovers 4, Newport County 3.

  3. Substitution

    Substitution, Forest Green Rovers. Scott Wagstaff replaces Dominic Bernard.

  4. Post update

    Joss Labadie (Newport County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Josh Davison (Forest Green Rovers).

  6. Post update

    Nicky Maynard (Newport County) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Ryan Haynes.

  7. Goal!

    Goal! Forest Green Rovers 4, Newport County 3. Nicky Maynard (Newport County) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lewis Collins with a through ball.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Josh Davison (Forest Green Rovers) left footed shot from very close range misses to the left. Assisted by Jayden Richardson.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Baily Cargill (Forest Green Rovers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Odin Bailey with a cross.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Forest Green Rovers. Conceded by Mickey Demetriou.

  11. Post update

    Joss Labadie (Newport County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  12. Post update

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

  13. Post update

    Foul by Nicky Maynard (Newport County).

  14. Post update

    Udoka Godwin-Malife (Forest Green Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Ryan Taylor (Newport County).

  16. Post update

    Udoka Godwin-Malife (Forest Green Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Nicky Maynard (Newport County).

  18. Post update

    Udoka Godwin-Malife (Forest Green Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Ryan Taylor (Newport County).

  20. Post update

    Ebou Adams (Forest Green Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Cheltenham4624101261392282
2Cambridge462481473492480
3Bolton462310135950979
4Morecambe462391469581178
5Newport4620131357421573
6Forest Green462013135951873
7Tranmere462013135550573
8Salford4619141354342071
9Exeter4618161271502170
10Carlisle461812166051966
11Leyton Orient461710195355-261
12Crawley461613175662-661
13Port Vale46179205757060
14Stevenage461418144141060
15Bradford461611194853-559
16Mansfield461319145755258
17Harrogate46169215261-957
18Oldham46159227281-954
19Walsall461120154553-853
20Colchester461118174461-1751
21Barrow461311225359-650
22Scunthorpe46139244164-2348
23Southend461015212958-2945
24Grimsby461013233769-3243
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