Result: Stevenage 3-3 Newport County
Scorers (Stevenage): Tom Pett (11′) Dale Gorman (61′ pen) Danny Newton (72′)
Scorers (Newport County): Frank Nouble (55′) Mickey Demetriou (77) Shawn McCoulsky (90+4)
Attendance: 2650 (463 away)
Stevenage and Newport County kicked off the EFL League Two season with a SIX goal thriller at The Lamex Stadium.
Stevenage were looking for their first opening day victory since 2014 when they defeated Hartlepool United. Newport County’s last opening day win was back in 2013 (their first game back in the Football League for 25 years) when they defeated Accrington Stanley. As soon as the match kicked off, it was a very slow opening few minutes as neither side could break down each other’s barriers.
Stevenage, who finished 10th last season, opened the scoring through midfielder, Tom Pett. Excellent pressing by Stevenage forced County to play it back to their defence where Pett pounced on a mistake by County defender, Scot Bennett. Pett took it round The Exiles’ keeper and composed himself with a tidy finish to make it 1-0 to The Boro.
Newport striker, Frank Nouble, looked extremely threatening for the Stevenage defence and his golden chance came to him minutes after The Boro’s opener. A free kick from Matty Dolan pinged off the bar and the ball fell to the feet of the striker…. he took the shot first time and it flew over the open goal. The missed opportunity left the travelling County fans wondering how he didn’t hit the target.
On the 32nd minute mark, a free kick was awarded to Newport from 45 yards out. Matty Dolan stepped up again to take to take it where Stevenage goalkeeper, Joe Fryer, pulled off a world class save to deny County the equaliser.
The whistle blew for half time and Stevenage were 1-0 up. However, Newport County were arguably the better side as they had many more chances… but they couldn’t take them.
Former Newport man, Alex Samuel, battles against Dan Butler.
After the break, neither side made any changes as they kicked off for the next 45 minutes.
Lamar Reynolds would’ve had County’s equaliser if it wasn’t for another magnificent save by Joe Fryer. Reynolds burst through on goal and had his chipped effort tipped over the bar for a Newport corner. Newport finally had their deserved equaliser from the resulting corner as Frank Nouble tapped in from close range for his debut goal.
However, minutes later, Scot Bennett was back at it again with another blunder. He took down Luke Wilkinson in the box and a penalty was awarded to Stevenage in the 61st minute. Dale Gorman was the man who stepped up to the spot and to fire home to give The Boro the lead once again. Newport keeper, Joe Day, went the right way but couldn’t keep out Gorman’s powerful strike.
The game already looked finished on 70 minutes as neither side could create that many opportunities after Stevenage took the lead again. However, The Boro extended their lead to 3-1 in the 72nd minute thanks to their new striker, Danny Newton. He took his chance superbly as he volleyed home into the bottom right corner for his first ever Stevenage goal.
Newport County were great escapists last season and they started to live up to that name again as Mickey Demetriou smashed home from 30 yards to make it 3-2. It was a real thunderbolt as it flew into the top right corner, there was nothing that Joe Fryer could do about the defender’s unbelievable effort.
Time was ticking for Newport to find their second equaliser of the match. Four minutes of added time was shown and they knew it was now or never as Matty Dolan whipped in a corner for The Exiles. The ball dropped right in the thick of the action as no Stevenage player could get rid of it. Shawn McCoulsky popped up for Newport as he smashed the ball into the roof of the net to draw level!
That was McCoulsky’s first ever Football League goal on his Football League debut.
The referee blew for full time shortly after play restarted as Stevenage’s hearts sunk as they blew away a 3-1 lead. The County fans and players were feeling full of joy as they completed another “great escape” expect this time, they started the season with one.
By Dylan Scarborough (@Scaarbs)