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Graham Coughlan urges one step at a time as Newport improve play-off prospects

16 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Newport County manager Graham Coughlan. Credit: Ben Whitley/PA Wire

Graham Coughlan is refusing to focus too much attention on the Sky Bet League Two play-off chase, despite seeing his Newport side close in on their fellow contenders with a 2-0 victory at AFC Wimbledon.

Goals from Bryn Morris and Kyle Jameson allowed the Exiles, beaten play-off finalists in 2019 and 2021, to move within two points of the seventh-placed Dons, who they have a game in hand on.

Results elsewhere mean the race is now even more congested – with Newport 11th in the table – but Coughlan has a more immediate target in mind.

He said: “It takes us within two points of 57 points, which we set a target for, which was last year’s total, what we got in the division last year.

“When we get to 57, we can maybe realign, reset and set a different target, but at this moment in time we need to get to 57 and surpass what we got last season, which will be an absolutely remarkable achievement under the circumstances…the decision-making process that goes against us, Welsh club in the English league, the injuries we’ve had, losing four big players at the start of the season.

“The setbacks we’ve had, finances, the whole lot, it’s been a really tough season.

“Without a great fan base, without a great group of lads, without tremendous staff, we wouldn’t be able to get to 55 points, and we have done.”

Newport led after nine minutes when Morris powered a shot into the bottom corner from Offrande Zanzala’s lay-off from outside the box.

Zanzala was then denied by Wimbledon goalkeeper Alex Bass before Jameson doubled the Exiles’ advantage after Adam Lewis’ free-kick was allowed to run across the area.

Josh Kelly’s lob struck the top of the bar for Wimbledon, whose manager Johnnie Jackson believed Jameson should have been sent off for a professional foul on John Kymani-Gordon in the first half.

Jackson said: “I don’t want to get in trouble because it’s a tough job they (the officials) have got – but for me if he’s going to give a foul then it’s a red card.

“He [Kymani-Gordon] is going to get a shot off in the penalty box – his touch takes him into the penalty box, he gets taken out, he’s going to get a shot off, it’s a red card.

“If it’s in the box – correct me if I’m wrong – I think the rule is it’s a yellow card, but he’s given a free-kick on the edge [of the area], that should be a red card.

“It changes the complexion of the game, does it change the outcome? We’ll never know about that, but it’s such an easy decision to give and he hasn’t given it.”

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