Walsall-born Kyle Howkins, an imposing, combative defender, scored his first goal for Newport County and says: “I want more.”
The Exiles, who defeated SkyBet League Two leaders Plymouth Argyle 1-0 at home, play Howkins’ home town club Walsall away on Tuesday.
“It was great to help Newport earn three points and felt good to score my first goal for the club,” he says.
“The manager (Michael Flynn) and Hats (Wayne Hatswell) have been telling me I should score more goals.
“My target is to score five this season. My highest so far is two, but my I’m is to kick on from there.
“My family and friends will be at Walsall cheering us on and hopefully it’s a successful evening.”
Howkins, 21, is 6ft 5ins tall and his former manager at Kidderminster, Dave Hockaday, said: “He’s a lot of a monster, never mind a bit of a monster – he’s a big lad, 6ft 5ins.
“He has great height, is a great athlete, he’s big, strong and up for the fight.”
Howkins, who started his career at West Brom, went on for the injured Mickey Demetriou after 21 minutes of Newport’s match against Argyle at Rodney Parade and powered a header into the roof of the net for the winner.
Ryan Haynes, named man of the match, created the chance for Howkins’ winner and says: “Defenders chipping in with goals is always nice and it’s great for Kyle, particularly because he didn’t start the game.
“I’m over the moon for him. I was taking a throw-in on the right and luckily it came back to me from Joss Labadie. I swung my right leg at the ball and was happy to put it on the big man’s head for him to stick it into the back of the net. Three points. Happy days.
“We defended well and can take positives from the fact Plymouth are a good team. All the fans can go home smiling and that’s the most important thing.”
Newport remain unbeaten this season after their 81st minute winner against Argyle and manager Flynn said: “Without us being great, we were solid, resilient and managed to take the three points. The players were excellent.
“We weren’t great in the first half. We didn’t keep the ball well enough and paid them too much respect. Our second half was much better and we created a lot of chances.
“We’re going from strength to strength, but it’s just a good start. Nobody is getting carried away and I won’t let them get carried away, but we haven’t lost a regular game since March 12 [v Northampton Town]. That is a fantastic effort from the players.”
County have kept eight clean sheets in their last 11 league matches stretching back into last season and Flynn was delighted with the victory against Plymouth, saying: “It was a great header from Kyle.
“We’ve challenged him because he should be scoring a lot more and it was a real dominant, powerful header.”
County have the chance to extend their 13-match unbeaten league record when they travel to Walsall FC on Tuesday – their first ever trip to the Bescot Stadium.
Flynn made nine changes to the starting team at Rodney Parade from. The EFL Cup win at Gillingham with only Scot Bennett and Mark O’Brien retaining their places.
The Exiles slightly changed their formation to match Plymouth. Tom King was back in goal behind Mickey Demetriou, O’Brien and Danny McNamara in a 3-4-1-2 system.
Scot Bennett was utilised in a man marking role to stop Danny Mayor when helping Josh Sheehan protect the back three, with Robbie Willmott, captain Labadie and Ryan Haynes supporting Jamille Matt and Padraig Amond up front.
The tactics proved successful and Plymouth were topple from top spot and are now fifth, while County are ninth.
Newport County AFC (3-4-1-2): Tom King, Mickey Demetriou (Kyle Howkins 21), Mark O’Brien, Danny McNamara, Robbie Willmott, Scot Bennett (Tristan Abrahams 46), Josh Sheehan, Ryan Haynes, Joss Labadie (capt), Padraig Amond, Jamille Matt. Subs not used: Nick Townsend (gk), Daniel Leadbitter, George Nurse, Corey Whitely, Taylor Maloney
Plymouth Argyle (3-5-2): Alex Palmer, Scott Wootton, Gary Sawyer (capt), Niall Canavan, Callum McFadzean, Joe Edwards (Jose Baxter 53), Antoni Sarcevic (Conor Grant 68), Joe Riley, Danny Mayor, Dom Telford (Klaidi Lolos 84), Ryan Taylor. Subs not used: Michael Cooper (gk), Adam Randell, Byron Moore, Joel Grant
Referee: Peter Wright
Attendance: 5,041 (1039 away)