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Graham Coughlan wants more goals from Will Evans after Newport milestone

27 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Newport County manager Graham Coughlan. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Manager Graham Coughlan congratulated striker Will Evans on becoming only the second Newport player since John Aldridge to score 20 EFL goals in a season – and then told him he should have a bigger haul.

Evans set the ball rolling in a 4-1 romp at Harrogate with a penalty just past the half-hour mark before being joined on the scoresheet by Offrande Zanzala (two) and substitute Seb Palmer-Houlden.

But the former Bala Town striker also missed a simple header, with Coughlan saying: “John Aldridge was an unbelievable player and Dom Telford (the first player since Aldridge to hit 20 for Newport) knew how to score a goal or two as well for the club, so I’m delighted for Will to be mentioned in the same breath.

“But I will pat him on the back now and then ask him for more and remind him of the other ones he could have had tonight. Hopefully, he can get a few more now and help us finish the season strongly.”

The victory was the Exiles’ sixth in eight league contests and moved them to within two points of a play-off spot.

Just as importantly for Coughlan, though, it rewarded the fans who travelled up in midweek from south Wales following a 3-0 loss at MK Dons on Saturday.

“It was a hell of a victory and performance that shouldn’t be under-estimated at a tough place like Harrogate,” he added. “I thought we were different class.

“We were all annoyed on Saturday with our performance levels. We let a lot of fans down and were determined not to do that again, so that victory was for them because they’ve been brilliant this season and they have travelled a very long way to be here on a Tuesday night.”

Harrogate boss Simon Weaver made four changes to his starting XI in a bid to freshen his ranks but admitted the decision backfired, with the team not managing a shot on target until “rested” sub George Thomson grabbed a 78th-minute consolation.

“We were well short of the standards we have tried to maintain over recent months,” Weaver declared. “We didn’t show enough of those facets and made a poor start.

“We didn’t set the tempo and I blame myself for the team that I picked. I thought a few needed a bit of a rest but we did not get the desired response and looked lightweight, so deserved the result.

“It did not look right from the off. We looked out of sync and we have hit the buffers a bit now.

“Our confidence looked short and we were not up to the standard required at both ends of the pitch, so this has to be a wake-up call because I have to be honest with how poor we were.”

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