Forest Green Rovers fail to hold on to lead against Newport County
Forest Green Rovers 1
Newport County 2
Newport County came from behind to deny Forest Green some late festive cheer in an entertaining Boxing Day clash, writes Richard Joyce.
Goalkeeper Alan Julian was in fine form for the visitors as Rovers barraged the County goal all afternoon, but substitutes Ben Swallow and Ryan Charles struck to deny Rovers who had seen Stephen Brogan put them a goal up.
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An impressive following from Newport was marred by trouble in the Welsh fans away end which bubbled over at half-time, however, nothing could put a dampener on an eye-catching affair.
Jamie Turley saw red for the second time this season late on, although it was a questionable second yellow awarded by referee Wayne Barratt.
It was in fact Turley's first yellow that kick-started what would prove to be a dramatic afternoon.
His late challenge on Lee Evans riled the crowd as Forest Green would proceed to batter the Newport goal with chances.
Brogan's low shot was easily kept out by Julian while Matty Taylor's dash and flash shot across goal set County hearts racing.
Julian was on hand to make a fine stop to deny Taylor and Jared Hodgkiss's deep cross was tipped on to the bar by the County keeper in the closing moments of the first half.
Newport fans clashed with stewards in the away end at half time in a disappointing act that failed to reflect the quality on offer on the pitch.
Rovers began the second half again in fine fettle, taking the lead after another fine move.
Chris Stokes' expertly driven cross found Brogan who steered in a controlled volley to hand Rovers the ideal start.
Racine almost doubled Rovers' tally with a dangerous header minutes later as Taylor also got on the end of a James Norwood cross to head wide.
It was Norwood who would then try himself to test Julian, and his fiercely driven effort flew just inches over the bar.
Rovers' failure to find a second looked like it could potentially be expensive, and as County boss Justin Edinburgh introduced Swallow and Charles in to the fray the two Newport substitutes changed the flow of the game.
Swallow found a leveller with a near post corner that somehow crept in past Sam Russell ahead of a end-to-end couple of minutes which would seal the tie. A rare error from Julian saw the County shot stopper spill a Norwood strike and with the ball eventually cleared within moments Newport had their winner.
And it was Charles, who has a habit of finding the back of the net against Rovers, who picked up the ball and steered a fine strike past Russell to confirm a rousing Newport turnaround.
Forest Green: Russell, Hodgkiss, Turley, Racine, Stokes, Green (Bangura 78), Klukowski (Styche 77), Collins, Norwood (Vieira 87), Taylor, Brogan. Not used: Oshodi, Jarvis
Newport: Julian, Pipe (Anthony 90), Yakubu, James, Hughes, Porter, Evans, Flynn, Smith (Swallow 62), O'Connor, Washington (Charles 61). Not used: Pidgeley, Minshull
Star Man: Chris Stokes
Referee: Wayne Barratt (Worcestershire FA)