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Archived News from March 2024

6th March 2024 22:19

English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Newport County 0 - 1 Mansfield Town
Maris 50
Attendance: 4,833 (615 from Mansfield)

Date: 2 March 2024

Martin Shaw at Rodney Parade

Mansfield Town won 1-0 at Newport County yesterday with a solid defensive display to extend the lead at the top of the table. So solid were the Stags that Newport didn’t have a single shot on target and really never looked like scoring.

The only goal came after 50 minutes when George Maris flicked into the net from 6 yards after great play on the left from Baily Cargill. The Stags could certainly have won by more goals but in the end one was enough.

Newport had been in very good form recently under former Stags manager Graham Coughlan, with 7 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats in their last 11 league games to propel them to within two points of the play-off positions at the start of play. They had beaten both Stockport and Wrexham at home. They had also impressed at home to Manchester United in the FA Cup during that run of league games. And on Tuesday night they impressively won 4-1 at Harrogate, and perhaps having played that game when Mansfield had a midweek off worked in the Stags’ favour, as Newport looked leggy to me and never got going, also of course largely due to Mansfield’s dominance in defence and midfield.

The Stags were superb at the back. Brunt and Flint won everything. Williams was excellent at right back. While Cargill continued his fine form at left back, with some great attacking play including setting up the winner. In front of the back four, Reed was terrific again, fresh from signing a new contract during the week. All of which meant that Pym in goal had nothing to do all game, apart from some good handling from crosses.

The Rodney Parade pitch is perfect these days, having had a million pounds spent on it by the Welsh Rugby Union a couple of years ago. Just as well with plenty of rain around causing postponements elsewhere.

Mansfield made four changes from the side that thumped Salford: Clarke, Maris, Boateng and Nichols came in for Lewis, Quinn, Akins and Swan. Swan didn’t travel to Wales because of a 'small muscle injury'. Clough is hoping he will be fit for Tuesday against MK Dons. Gale returned from injury to replace Swan in the 18. Aaron Lewis, against his former club, started on the bench.

Most Stags games this season have been high on entertainment. This one wasn’t.

The first half was not the best. I wrote fewer notes down on my notepad than I think for any other half this season. Few chances for either side, but it was the Stags who went close twice.

After 23 minutes, Cargill lifted a clearance into the Newport half, Keillor-Dunn jumped for it with Kyle Jameson, it fell kindly for Keillor-Dunn who had a run at goal from 45 yards. He elected to take his shot early, from 28 yards out, and the keeper made a save low to his left. Perhaps he took the shot a bit too early and from too far out.

Then after 27 minutes, a corner from the left from Ollie Clarke was cleared to Boateng whose shot from the edge of the area was blocked by Adam Lewis. Seconds later, Boateng slid a good ball in to Ollie Clarke just inside the area, he turned and shot from 15 yards left footed and the keeper again saved low to his left. A good opportunity and Clarke had his head in his hands.

They were really the only chances of a quiet first half.

Into the second half, and inside the opening 15 seconds, Newport had their first chance of the game as Will Evans found Seb Palmer-Houlden who turned and his shot from 12 yards was blocked by Flint.

The best chance of the game so far came on 48 minutes. Williams curled in a super cross from level with the edge of the area on the right, and Boateng sent a diving header wide from 8 yards. Boateng is not renowned for his headers.

The Stags took the lead after 50 minutes. Boateng was late with a tackle on Scot Bennett on the touchline 10 yards inside the Newport half as Bennett played the ball forward into the Stags half. The referee played advantage with Palmer-Houlden running forward 25 yards from goal. Palmer-Houlden tried to play inside to Aaron Wildig who might have had a run at goal, but Flint tackled him to block his cross. Cargill swept a good ball out to the right touchline for Keillor-Dunn. Keillor-Dunn cut inside Jameson and went past Adam Lewis too just inside the area before Adam Lewis tripped him. Keillor-Dunn stumbled but didn’t go down despite it being a clear foul. Had Keillor-Dunn gone down the referee would surely have given a penalty. The ball ran to Maris who found Boateng just inside the area on the left. Boateng played back to Cargill, leaving his pass a little short. Lewis Payne thought he could nick the ball away but Cargill dinked it past him, to the byline and pulled the ball back and inside to Maris who flicked it past the keeper at his near post from 6 yards.

Maris’s 9th goal of the season, right in front of the travelling Stags fans. He has once in his career scored 10 in a season, at Cambridge. A really good assist from Cargill, his third assist of the season.

After the game, Graham Coughlan complained that the referee hadn’t given the free kick to Newport for the foul by Boateng. The referee had actually played advantage and Palmer-Houlden had a run in the channel in the opposition half 35 yards up the pitch and could have put Wildig in on goal. He didn’t because of the quality of Flint’s defending. That’s not the referee’s fault. It was poor play from Palmer-Houlden and good play from Flint. A really weak argument from Coughlan to blame the referee who applied a reasonable advantage.

Boateng was correctly booked for the foul after the goal was scored.

The goal quietened the vociferous Newport crowd.

After that it was Mansfield completely on top and the team that looked like scoring with Newport creating absolutely nothing.

After 52 minutes, Maris nearly had a second. Clarke lifted a ball forward for Maris to run on to, he cut inside just inside the area and curled a shot just over the bar from 16 yards. Maris said after the game: “I probably should have scored.”

The Stags went close again after 66 minutes. Keillor-Dunn intercepted a loose square pass from Lewis Payne 35 yards from goal, he got past Matt Baker and from 16 yards his shot was deflected just wide of the right post by Declan Drysdale. So close.

Keillor-Dunn had another chance after 70 minutes. Quinn found him with a low ball into the box from the left, Keillor-Dunn turned and shot straight at the keeper from 12 yards. A brilliant turn from Keillor-Dunn and he got his shot on target.

Newport broke straight to the other end, but brilliant defending from Reed to win the ball and set Mansfield on the attack again. Sub Akins broke down the right, found sub Bowery, he played to Keillor-Dunn whose shot was again blocked. A great attack.

On 76 minutes, Cargill, who had a great game attacking down the left, made a super run from 40 yards out, into the area and his low shot was parried by the keeper for a good save.

The Stags should have sealed the game after 90+1 minutes. Brilliant play from Akins just inside the Newport half to wriggle away from defenders and set Quinn away to the edge of the area. Quinn had sub Aaron Lewis in yards of space on the edge of the box to his right but Quinn’s low ball across was too close to the keeper. Quinn was really disappointed with himself. What an opportunity missed.

Newport had just one moment when they had a half chance to steal a draw. After 90+4 minutes, Will Evans stabbed a shot from 16 yards that was going wide before it hit Cargill, rebounded to sub Harry Charsley and he couldn’t get a good connection on the rebound sending it high over the bar.

That was it, and the Stags were able to celebrate with 615 travelling fans. Mansfield have completed some routs in recent games, 4 goals against Forest Green, 9 against Harrogate, 5 against Salford. But this win was every bit as important. And it was built around that superb defensive display. Flint and Brunt have been really good all season of course, but Cargill has been excellent since he has gone in at left back, and George Williams has had to be so patient to earn his place, but has taken his chance with a string of terrific performances. A word for Reed too in front of the defence who played particularly well. The subs coming on did well. Special mention to Akins who was absolutely superb.

12 games to go. Mansfield are 3 points clear of Stockport and Wrexham (Wrexham have played a game more). Mansfield are 5 points clear of 4th placed Crewe (Crewe have played a game more.)

MK Dons come to the One Call Stadium on Tuesday. A very big game. MK Dons are in 5th place, 8 points behind Mansfield and have played a game more. They lost to a 94th minute goal at AFC Wimbledon yesterday, what a sweet win that was for Wimbledon for obvious reasons. O’Toole, on loan from Mansfield, played the full 90 minutes for Wimbledon in the centre of defence and helped keep a clean sheet.

Since manager Mike Williamson was appointed (21 Oct), the teams who have earned the most points in League Two are 1) Mansfield 43 points, 2) MK Dons 42 points. It truly will be a game of two in-form sides.

If you can’t get to the game on Tuesday, you can buy a match pass to watch it with us on iFollow Stags.



Newport County 0-1 Mansfield Town: George Maris goal gives Stags victory
Maris (50'minutes)
Cargill (50'minutes)


League Two leaders Mansfield Town extended their lead at the top of the table after a hard-fought win against Newport County at Rodney Parade.

Both teams struggled to carve out any real chances in the first half with both keepers making routine saves.

The deadlock was broken when George Maris got on the end of a brilliant low cross from Bailey Cargill.

Maris had further chances to double Mansfield's lead, but the Stags held onto their one-goal lead for victory.

A late goal conceded by Crewe means Mansfield's lead at the top of League Two extends to three points, while defeat leaves Newport five points off the play-off places.

Newport County manager Graham Coughlan told BBC Sport Wales: "I thought it was two really good teams going head to head, both cancelled each other out.

"When it comes to big games like that you have to have people in charge who understand the game and know the game and unfortunately the game hinged on a refereeing decision.

"It's sad to come away from a game where again we are talking about decision making."

Match Stats
Home Team Newport Away Team Mansfield
Possession Home 49% Away 51%
Shots Home 6 Away 16
Shots on Target Home 0 Away 6
Corners Home 4 Away 5
Fouls Home 8 Away 7


Mansfield Town win at Newport County to extend lead at top of League Two
chad.co.uk, Sat 2 March 2024

Mansfield Town eased clear of Stockport and Wrexham at the top of the League Two table thanks to a well-deserved victory at Newport.

George Maris bagged the all-important winning goal just after half-time, but it could, and probably should, have been a wider margin of victory for the impressive visitors.

The Stags created the first opportunity at Rodney Parade as Nigel Clough’s high-fliers went in search of a fifth win in six matches.


Davis Keillor-Dunn curled a decent cross into the Exiles’ box, only for Maris to head over the top.

At the other end Will Evans saw a header blocked following Adam Lewis’s cross into the box.

The Stags went mighty close just before the half-hour mark.

Hiram Boateng slid a measured pass perfectly into the path of Ollie Clarke, but his shot was expertly saved by agile ‘keeper Nick Townsend.

As the interval approached, both sides were cancelling one another out in a tight contest in South Wales.

The hosts missed the final chance of the first half when Bryn Morris’s firm strike was blocked.

The Stags got the second half off to a perfect start when Maris finally broke the deadlock in fine style.

A slick attacking move culminated with Maris drilling home low, first time at the near post, following a smart cross from Baily Cargill.

Incredibly, Maris almost doubled his and Mansfield’s tally barely a minute later when his curling effort was just off target.

With the Stags’ tails now up, Cargill went close when he headed powerful straight at grateful keeper Townsend.

Bang on the 70-minute mark, Keillor-Dunn was denied by another smart stop from Townsend.

Newport’s overworked stopper was then called upon to keep out another firm header from Cargill as the Stags sought to finally kill off their opponents.

Sub Jordan Bowery came closest to notching a late second goal when he poked inches wide at the end of another hugely satisfactory away-day for Clough’s men with keeper Christy Pym not having a shot to save all afternoon.

NEWPORT: Townsend, Baker, Jameson (Zanzala, 62), Clarke (Drysdale, 62), Payne (Bright, 74), Wildig (Jephcott, 74), Bennett, Morris, Lewis, Evans, Palmer-Houlden (Charsley, 62). SUBS NOT USED: Waite, Maxted.

STAGS: Pym, Williams, Flint, Brunt, Cargill, Clarke (Bowery, 61), Reed, Nichols (Akins, 61), Keillor-Dunn (McLaughlin, 84), Maris (Lewis, 71), Boateng (Quinn, 61). SUBS NOT USED: Flinders, Gale.

REFEREE: Adam Herczeg.


Newport County beaten 1-0 by League Two leaders Mansfield
southwalesargus.co.uk, By Chris Kirwan, @c_kirwan

NEWPORT County AFC suffered a 1-0 defeat to Mansfield at Rodney Parade as the League Two leaders showed their promotion credentials.

George Maris’ strike in the 50th minute earned the spoils for the Stags, who had more moments of quality in a tough battle.

County failed to hit the heights of their Tuesday night triumph in Harrogate, with the exertions and travel no doubt playing a part.

The Exiles had a good record in Newport against teams in the hunt for automatic promotion - beating Stockport and Wrexham, drawing with Crewe and MK Dons - but were too wasteful with the ball against a well-organised Stags side.


They weren't at their best, and the refereeing was infuriating, but will dust themselves down ahead of a trip to Stockport next weekend.

Graham Coughlan made one change to the side that cruised to victory in Harrogate with Seb Palmer-Houlden recalled for fit-again Offrande Zanzala, who returned to the role of impact sub after scoring a double on his first start in over a year.

He was joined on the bench by Harry Charsley after he missed the trips to Milton Keynes and Yorkshire because of a hip injury.

Versatile midfielder Aaron Lewis was on the bench for his return to Rodney Parade with Mansfield, who had enjoyed a Tuesday without a fixture.

It was a keen contest from the off with County midfielder Aaron Wildig yellow-carded for a wild tackle on Ollie Clarke in the tenth minute.

County had their first effort in the 17th minute when referee Adam Herczeg played advantage after a foul on Will Evans then Bryn Morris drive from the edge of the area was deflected behind.

Nick Townsend was called into action twice at the other end and was up to the task, coming off his line well to punch out a deflected cross and then saving from Davis Keillor-Dunn after he opted to shoot from distance when Kyle Jameson had headed into his back.

The first big chance of the game came after 26 minutes when a neat Mansfield move allowed Ollie Clarke to shoot on the turn but Townsend got down well to his left to save and hold.

The Stags were on top without creating too much danger for a County side that were fighting hard and relishing the 50/50s and aerial tussles, but not really looking after the ball well enough.

It was goalless at the break after a half in which the Exiles failed to have a shot on target and Mansfield didn’t seriously test Townsend.

County started the second half brightly with Palmer-Houlden having a shot on the turn blocked by former Cardiff centre-back Aden Flint inside a minute.

However, Mansfield responded and hit the front shortly after Hiram Boateng had wastefully headed wide.

Keillor-Dunn jinked into the box and could have gone down for a penalty but stayed on his feet and the attack continued for Baily Cargill to cross from the left and Maris to sweep in, beating Townsend at his near post.

He nearly doubled up shortly afterwards but curled a shot over from the edge of the area as the Stags looked to really take command.

County made a triple change on the hour after initially only planning to bring on midfielder Charsley for defender Kyle Jameson and Zanzala for Palmer-Houlden.

Coughlan was forced to also bring on Declan Drysdale, his first appearance since November, for James Clarke after the central defender went down with what looked to be a knee injury.

Chances were wasted at both ends with Charsley mis-kicking after a counter-attack and Keillor-Dunn failing to make the most of a big opportunity on the break, his shot deflected behind.

The game was stretched and Keillor-Dunn shot straight at Townsend on the turn and then had a shot superbly blocked by Lewis Payne.

The Southampton loanee was replaced after 73 with Harrison Bright coming on down the right while Luke Jephcott also came on for Aaron Wildig in a switch to 4-3-3 to hunt a leveller.

Townsend kept County in the hunt with a strong left hand to keep out Cargill’s powerful drive on the angle after 75 minutes as the Stags’ left flank continued to cause problems.

The Exiles failed to stress their visitors and it should have been 2-0 in the first of five added minutes but Stephen Quinn failed to find the unmarked Aaron Lewis in the box.

There was time for a scramble at the other end but Will Evans’ shot was blocked and County failed to burgle a point on a frustrating afternoon.

County: Townsend, Payne (Bright 73), Baker, Clarke (Drysdale 61), Jameson (Zanzala 61), Lewis, Bennett (captain), Morris, Wildig (Jephcott 73), Palmer-Houlden (Charsley 61), Evans.

Substitutes not used: Maxted, Waite.

Yellow: Wildig.

Mansfield scorer: Maris.

Referee: Adam Herczeg.


Ref's call leaves County to ponder what might have been against strong Stags
southwalesargus.co.uk, By Chris Kirwan, @c_kirwan

Newport County left rueing ref's key call against Mansfield

NEWPORT County AFC endured a frustrating afternoon when beaten 1-0 by League Two leaders Mansfield at Rodney Parade.

The Exiles were enraged by referee Adam Herczeg’s decision to play an advantage in the build-up to George Maris’ winner in the 50th minute.

The Stags got their noses in front and that was enough to strengthen their bid for automatic promotion while County’s push for the play-offs suffered a blow, but certainly not a terminal one.


They slip to 12th in the table and are five points back on seventh-placed Walsall with plenty of twists and turns to come.

Here are some talking points from Rodney Parade...

On 49 minutes and 22 seconds, Scot Bennett dinked the ball around Baily Cargill and was clattered by Hiram Boateng as he played a ball down the right flank in front of the Bisley Stand.

Ref Herczeg played advantage with Seb Palmer-Houlden in possession but heading towards the corner with two defenders close and just Aaron Wildig in support, also tracked by a pair of Stags.

The striker's attempted ball through to his midfielder was blocked, it fell to Cargill and he launched a diagonal that found Davis Keillor-Dunn with 49 minutes 30 on the clock.

He jinked past three defenders on his way into the box but stayed on his feet after a very risky Adam Lewis tackle that would have given the official another big call had he gone down.

Nonetheless, the attack continued and Cargill dinked the ball past Lewis Payne, got to the byline and crossed for Maris to score after 49 minutes and 53 seconds.

Just 31 seconds after County should have had a free-kick, they were behind against a very well organised side and it’s understandable why Graham Coughlan was livid after the game. He will also know that the defending could have been better.

Herczeg had a poor game and County’s boss feels his side consistently get a raw deal, but don’t all clubs? I’d argue it’s more a question of EFL standards rather than ‘little’ Newport being treated differently.

The can grumble about that decision against Mansfield but I don't believe they could grumble about the result.

Mansfield are setting the pace in League Two and it’s easy to see why, even if they weren’t at their absolute best in Newport.

They looked an extremely well-drilled side with the ability to play in different ways with some physical lumps but also a fair smattering of ball players.

Coughlan called it before the game: “If you want to fight Mansfield, they will fight you. If you want to play, they will play.”

County have played well against the top sides in the division in Newport but Mansfield did what Stockport, Wrexham, Crewe and Milton Keynes Dons couldn’t by bagging three points.

It will be a surprise if they are not playing in the third tier for the first time since 2003 next season, while County will need a very strong finish if they are to sneak into the top seven to stand a chance of joining them in going up.

They won’t have many tougher assignments than the Stags and they were doing a pretty good job of frustrating the leaders before the controversial goal.

However, a second Mansfield goal always looked more likely than an equaliser and Nigel Clough bemoaned his side’s lack of a killer instinct after the game.

County, meanwhile, had six shots with five of them blocked and none of them on target with Stags goalkeeper Christy Pym untroubled.

They weren’t at their slickest with the ball and lacked the quality in the final third to really put their visitors under pressure.

But there’s no need for a major inquest, County will just dust themselves down and go again for another tough test at promotion-chasing Stockport on Saturday.

County have played 46 games in all competitions this season and that workload plus the injury list is shaping Coughlan’s thinking.

Offrande Zanzala stepped out of the XI after scoring two goals at Harrogate on his first start since February of last year.

Kyle Jameson made his second start of the week after returning from a hip injury suffered in August but, like the striker, is not ready for the full 90 minutes.

His substitution coincided with an injury to fellow centre-back James Clarke, which led to a return for Declan Drysdale after being sidelined since November.

Zanzala, Jameson and Drysdale are all being nursed towards full fitness while teenagers Lewis Payne and Seb Palmer-Houlden are experiencing a first full season of proper EFL action so will naturally have the occasional dip.

Add into the mix January signing Luke Jephcott being short of sharpness after being a fringe figure at St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership and it’s clear that Coughlan and his coaching staff have a lot to consider.

They are having to pick accordingly and use substitutions wisely to avoid a repeat of the autumn injury woes.

The manager will hope that as March progresses he will be able to have the consistency of selection he craves, but the schedule is tough with long trips to Stockport, Wimbledon, Barrow and Colchester to contend with.


Match Report - Newport Suffer Defeat Against Mansfield

Newport Count were defeated 1-0 at Rodney Parade by Mansfield Town, with an early second half-goal from George Maris settling the tie.

A hard-fought game at Rodney Parade saw league leaders Mansfield Town take all three points thanks to an early second-half goal from George Maris.

Graham Coughlan made one change from Tuesday's 4-1 win against Harrogate, with Seb Palmer-Houlden returning to the starting eleven ahead of Offrande Zanzala. Harry Charsley also made a welcome return to the side, starting on the bench after a brief injury.


The visitors made two changes from their 5-1 win over Salford on Tuesday. Former exile Aaron Lewis was dropped to the bench along with experienced midfielder Stephen Quinn, with Hiram Boateng and Tom Nichols replacing them.

The opening ten minutes produced very few chances, with a heated battle taking place in the middle of the field. The best opportunity was a headed effort from George Maris, which went high over the bar.

Our first notable effort of the game came in the 16th minute. After some battling play on the edge of the area, Bryn Morris fired a deflected shot wide and out for a corner. Will Evans would meet the resulting set-piece at the back post, but it was deflected wide by Baily Cargill.

Nick Townsend was called into action in the 22nd minute. Davis Keillor Dunn broke through the middle, but pressure from Kyle Jameson forced him into a long shot, with Townsend getting down low to stop it.

The keeper would be called into action again five minutes later. A spell of sustained pressure saw Hiram Boateng play the ball into Ollie Clarke in the area, with the midfielder taking a touch and firing on the turn, only to be stopped by Towsend down to his left.

The rest of the half turned into a battle of attrition in the middle of the park, with both sides restricted to half-chances. Neither said was able to muster a clear shot on target, with both sides heading to the changing room goalless.

Half time

The second half got off to a much livelier start. Seb Palmer-Houlden had the ball in the box in the opening minute, with Aden Flint throwing himself in the way of his effort. Aaron Wildig then whipped the ball straight back in, nearly catching Christy Pym out at the back-post, with the keeper tipping it just wide.

The visitors responded quickly, having their best chance of the game four minutes later. A ball from Maris found Boateng in space in the area, but the striker was unable to keep his header down.

The Stags would break the deadlock two minutes later. Baily Cargill broke down the left, pulling the ball back from the by-line to George Marris, who met it at the near post, slotting it past Townsend.

Coughlan went to his bench in the 60th minute, replacing Kyle Jameson, James Clarke, and Seb Palmer-Houlden with Offrande Zanzala, Harry Charsley, and Declan Drysdale as we went in search of an equaliser.

Mansfield came close to doubling their lead in the 67th minute. Top-scorer Davis Keilor Dunn found space on the edge of the area, but he put his effort narrowly wide of the post. They would come close again in the 70th minute, with substitute Lucas Akins pulling the ball back for Jordan Browery, only for the striker to knock the ball wide.

The visitors remained resilient despite some pressure in the final twenty minutes. Will Evans saw a shot fly over the bar from outside the area, but despite some dangerous balls coming into the Mansfield box, including a corner which caused confusion in the six-yard box right at the death, we were unable to convert these into clear-cut chances.

Attention will now turn to next Saturday when we make the journey to Edgeley Park to take on Stockport County.

Newport County: Townsend, Jameson (Zanzala 60'), Clarke (Drysdale 60'), Baker, Lewis, Payne (Bright 73'), Bennett (C), Wildig (Jephcott 73'), Morris, Evans, Palmer-Houlden (Charsley 60').

Substitutes: Maxted, Drysdale, Waite, Charsley, Zanzala, Jephcott, Bright.

Mansfield Town: Pym, Cargill, Clarke (Bowery 60'), Maris (Lewis 70'), Flint (C), Nichols (Akins 60'), Williams, Brunt, Reed, Keillor-Dunn, Boateng (Quinn 60').

Substitutes: McLaughlin, Akins, Bowery, Gale, Flinders, Lewis, Quinn.

Attendance: 4833 (615 away)



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