GRAHAM Coughlan believes Newport County hit a high point of his time as manager to take command in their 3-0 win at Walsall.
The Exiles made it seven games unbeaten in League Two to climb to 11th in the table, just four points off the play-offs.
County have won their last four and were in command from the off at Bescot Stadium with Bryn Morris opening the scoring with a deflected drive in the fourth minute.
A superb Will Evans strike – his 21st of the season – made it 2-0 after 14 minutes then Harry Charsley headed in a third in the 38th minute.
County then kept the Saddlers at arms’ length with the hosts reduced to 10 men at the death when goalkeeper Owen Evans was sent off for handling outside his area.
“In the first 20 minutes we were absolutely outstanding, probably the best 20 minutes we've had since I've come to the club,” said Coughlan, who was appointed in October, 2022.
“It was front-foot football and the goals were really, really good and well-worked. Yes, we got a bit of a deflection for the first from Bryn's shot but Will Evans' individual goal was Premier League standard.
“If that happened in the Premier League or in international football then it would be flashed across Sky Sports every hour.
“I was really pleased with us in the first half and let's just say it was a professional performance in the second, although we had two or three really good opportunities.
“They showed both sides of their game with the professionalism in the second half and the flair and quality in the first.”
County have not lost in the league since being beaten 2-0 in Wrexham before Christmas and made it four victories on the spin.
They are four points back on seventh-placed Harrogate and host play-off contenders Notts County on Tuesday and Gillingham next weekend.
“It's still only three points. We were on 40 points going into the game and got three points today, that doesn't put us on 47 or 50 [that would be safe from relegation],” said Coughlan.
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“It's nowhere near 57, so that's what we are concentrating on and that's our target.
“Initially, we have to get to 50 for safety in the division and then we will reset and go after the 57 that we got last year.”
One blow from Walsall was the early loss of Aaron Wildig because of an ankle injury. The midfielder tried to play on after getting his right foot strapped but was taken off at 2-0.