Forest Green Rovers 0, Newport County 2
Bristol-born goalkeeper Joe Wollacott had an afternoon to forget at the New Lawn in Gloucestershire.
The 22-year-old, signed on a season-long loan from Bristol City, has kept four clean sheets for Forest Green Rovers this season, but dropped a big clanger to gift Newport County their first goal, scored by Padraig Amond, before being sent off.
Wollacott saw red for tripping Tristan Abrahams after 27 minutes and former Carmarthen Town shot goalkeeper Lewis Thomas went on, but he completely misjudged the bounce of the ball as a 25-yards shot by Ryan Haynes went under his body and into the net.
The Exiles climbed into second place in SkyBet League Two, tucked in behind early pacesetters Exeter City and level with Crewe Alexandra.
Almost 900 Newport fans followed their team to Forest Green and headed home ecstatic with a solid away win.
“We were excellent, very professional out of possession, but in possession I thought we were a little bit sloppy,” said County manager Michael Flynn. “We were looking for the killer pass too much when we should have been patient.
“You always know against 10 men they’ve got nothing to lose and they are going to have a go at you the last 20 minutes.
“That’s what they did and we were sloppy, losing the ball and giving them the chance to counter.
“We’ll work on that, work on keeping the ball, making the opposition move around and the chances will come.
“We know how Rovers play. They are a good team who will cause a lot of teams’ problems. Their movement is good, they’re good on the ball but even when they had 11 men, we were still the better team.
“We wanted to press them high and get in their faces. For me, this is a big win. I have got a lot of time for Mark Cooper and Forest Green for the way they play.
“It’s a tough place to come and I’m delighted with the win.”
Flynn made three changes to the side who went out of the Carabao Cup in midweek but insisted on retaining the 4-2-1-3 formation usually fielded with like-for-like changes.
Tom King returned in place of Nick Townsend, Ryan Inniss came in for his Exiles debut when replacing Kyle Howkins and Joss Labadie recovered from the hamstring injury sustained last week to return in place of Corey Whitely.
The victory extended Newport’s unbeaten league run to 16 matches, stretching back into last season.
Wollacott gifted the visitors a fourth-minute goal when he dawdled with the ball at his feet and when Abrahams put him under pressure allowed Josh Sheehan to feed Padraig Amond for the opening goal.
Haynes added a late second goal to complete the County victory.
Abrahams’ off the ball running was a constant nightmare to the Rovers defence and when Dom Bernard sold his goalkeeper short with a back pass after 27 minutes, the striker again nipped in to force Wollacott into a foul which saw the shot stopper dismissed.
It took County until injury time to score a second when Robbie Willmott laid off a short free-kick for Haynes to strike a low 25-yard drive under goalkeeper Thomas to send the 898 away supporters’ home with smiles on their faces.
Newport County AFC begin their Leasing.Com Trophy fixtures on Wednesday when they play West Ham United Under-23s at home on Wednesday night, while they return to League Two action next Saturday when they host to Port Vale at Rodney Parade.
Newport County AFC (4-2-1-3): Tom King, Ryan Haynes, Mark O’Brien (Kyle Howkins 45), Ryan Inniss, Danny McNamara, Matty Dolan (Taylor Maloney 77), Josh Sheehan, Joss Labadie, capt (Corey Whitely 85), Robbie Willmott, Padraig Amond, Tristan Abrahams. Subs not used: Townsend, Leadbitter, Collins, Ekpiteta
Forest Green Rovers (4-3-3): Joe Wollacott, Dom Bernard, Matt Mills, Farrend Rawson, Nathan McGinley (Lewis Thomas 28), Carl Winchester, Ebou Adams, Kyle Taylor (Junior Mondal 58), Joseph Mills, Taylor Allen (Aaron Collins 78), Dayle Grubb. Subs not used: Stevens, Morton, Kitching, Gowin-Malife
Referee: James Adcock
Attendance: 2,897 (898 away)