Newport County AFC 2-1 Stevenage: Late Antoine Semenyo strike breaks battling Boro's hearts at Rodney Parade
PUBLISHED: 17:02 13 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:44 13 October 2018
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Stevenage travelled to Newport County AFC on Saturday in SkyBet League Two. Read on for Layth Yousif's match report from Rodney Parade.
Dino Maamria’s Stevenage lost to a late, late goal scored by substitute Antoine Semenyo against Newport County AFC in a 2-1 defeat at Rodney Parade on Saturday.
The loss was harsh on battling Boro who had shown resilience throughout a tough, disjointed match.
Earlier a 46 second goal from Matty Dolan had been equalised on the stroke of half-time by a Luther James-Wildin effort in a scrappy affair in south Wales.
Alex Revell recovered from a dislocated thumb to be installed as captain for the trip to south Wales while the highly-rated James-Wildin returned after a ban following his sending off at Exeter City after two yellow cards.
Goalkeeper Paul Farman is still out with a hand injury as Seny Dieng remained in goal for league matches with Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy netminder Will Appleyard was on the bench despite conceding eight without reply on Tuesday at the Lamex against a lively Charlton side.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce made a rare start while the raw but talented teenager Arthur Iontton was named as a substitute after starting against the Addicks in midweek in a bid to pick up vital experience.
Former Boro old boy Fraser Franks started for the Exiles as his side made a perfect start by going 1-0 ahead in under a minute.
Pandemonium ensued when Dolan, a 25-year-old former Middlesbrough academy starlet and Yeovil Town midfielder drove at the heart of the Stevenage defence before unleashing a superlative strike that flew past Dieng despite his valiant efforts to reach the ball.
The passionate Welsh crowd at Rodney Parade erupted in delight at the early contender for goal of the day to leave Boro stunned.
The goal compounded a frustrating lunchtime for the loyal travelling Boro supporters as the coach ferrying them to the match was delayed due to a serious crash on the M4 leading to the motorway to the principality being shut.
With the bad weather around the fear was that the game would be called off, prompting memories of the October game here two seasons postponed at 1.15pm – five minutes after this correspondent arrived.
Yet even with Gwent Dragons rugby club and a local Newport side also using the pitch, thankfully those issues have been resolved after the club invested in a new state of the art pitch, similar to the one that will be installed at a rebuilt White Hart Lane.
Mike Flynn’s County have responded by only losing a single game since the turf was laid, with the Newport-born 37-year-old picking up manager of the month for September after his side’s impressive form saw them rise to the heady heights of third prior to kick-off.
Flynn, who served the club on four separate occasions, is fast earning himself an impressive reputation in the fourth tier and his side’s dominance in the early stages did nothing to dispel that.
However, on a dank, overcast afternoon the football started to resemble the weather, as the scrappy fayre served up became grim and unappealing.
But as referee Keith Stroud was preparing to blow for half-time in a shapeless match the best you could say was that both sides were committed, if not as creative as one would have liked.
That was until James-Wildin popped up unmarked in the box with his goal at the back post to nod past Joe Day to level the scores at 1-1.
There were many links between the two sides including Boro boss Maamria – who served as the Exiles assistant manager in 2016-17, working closely with the experienced Flynn under Graham Westley. County’s defender Franks was another as was Stevenage’s CEO Alex Tunbridge - who did a great job behind the scenes here at Rodney Parade.
There was no quarter given, nor asked for once the game restarted – which is the way it should be – as both teams battled for the three priceless points after the break.
The crowd offered a warm ovation for the injured Robbie Willmott who was stretchered off after a long delay as he was replaced by the combative David Pipe.
As the clock ticked down – including nine minutes added on time after Willmott’s unfortunate injury – it appeared Maamria’s men had refused to buckle under pressure as Newport dominated possession in front of a passionate crowd of 3,176 which included 71 hardy travelling Boro fans.
That was until, Semenyo’s late shot drilled past Dieng following James-Wildin’s failure to clear.
A desperately disappointed Boro boss Dino Maamrmia said afterwards he thought his side deserved a point against an excellent Newport side. He wasn’t the only one with that view.
Follow Layth on Twitter @laythy29