Stevenage’s disappointing away form continued in South Wales with a 2-0 defeat at Newport County this afternoon.
First half goals from Aaron O’Connor and Darren Jones did the damage for Boro who plugged away but ultimately failed to make their few chances count at Rodney Parade.
With Jon Ashton and Darius Charles missing through injury and Roarie Deacon also absent, Graham Westley made three changes to the side that started the 1-1 draw against Morecambe a fortnight ago with Bira Dembele, Dean Wells and Chris Whelpdale all starting.
The opening five minutes was a lively one with corners for both sides. Stevenage threatened first when Beardsley saw a header deflect just wide from a Walton free-kick, with Wells then causing chaos from a resulting set-play with a header back across goal which was knocked behind once more. Another goalmouth scramble ensued from that next corner with Beardsley stabbing over.
Darren Jones headed wide from a corner at the other end in an early attack from Newport and the game then settled as both sides enjoyed spells of possession without any further chances.
Charlie Lee went close to a spectacular 13th minute opener when he burst through the middle, controlled the loose ball on his chest and volleyed at goal only for ‘keeper Stephens to make an acrobatic tip over the bar.
That was the visitors’ only real chance going forward for some time as Newport grew into the game and began to show why they’re beaten just once since the opening month of the season with some simple yet effective passages of play.
On 26 minutes County’s pressure was rewarded as they took the lead. A long throw from the right was flicked on for Aaron O’Connor to steer a header past Day into the bottom corner.
McAllister shot wide from distance as Boro sought an immediate reply but it was Newport who controlled the remainder of the half as Stevenage couldn’t make anything stick up front and all too often moves broke down.
Halfway through four minutes of added time the hosts doubled their advantage in controversial circumstances as a free-kick from the right fell kindly for Darren Jones in space. Pretty much every Stevenage player had their hand in the air appealing for an offside flag which didn’t come, leaving the centre-back to fire home a second and Stevenage with much to contemplate at the break.
To their credit Graham Westley’s men did start the second half brightly and Charlie Lee nearly pulled one back from a Walton cross eight minutes in, but swept his shot over. Whelpdale was then crowded out in the box before he could shoot after good play by Dembele and Beardsley.
Newport though were soon back on the attack and only some good defending by Wells, Whelpdale and Day prevented County from adding to their tally on three separate occasions as wave after wave of attack came at Boro, particularly down the flanks.
Ryan Brunt and Jack Jebb came off the bench with 20 minutes left, with Adams coming on eight minutes later and for a spell it had the desired effect as Stevenage picked up and began to push forward more.
Wells and Dembele both headed wide when well placed and Stephens was forced to punch a Jebb free-kick clear with six minutes remaining, but otherwise the County goal remained relatively untroubled.
Goalscorer and Newport man of the match O’Connor was shown a straight red just into five minutes of injury time after catching Wells late after the defender had cleared, but ultimately it had no bearing on the game.
Stevenage’s disappointing run of form on the road continues but the team will no doubt look to build on their much more encouraging home form when Exeter City are the visitors next Saturday.
Newport: Stephens, Jackson, Porter, Jones, Yakubu, Minshull, O'Connor, Sandell, Jeffers (Byrne 83), Hughes (Obeng 61), Klukowski
Subs not used: Pidgeley, Chapman, Howe, Poole, Crow
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Okimo, Dembele, Wells, Whelpdale (Adams 78), Walton (Jebb 70), McAllister, Lee, Beardsley (Brunt 70), Barnard
Subs not used: Beasant, Pett, Parrett, Bond
Referee: Brendan Malone