Lee Phillips returns to Newport County with Weymouth tonight (7.45pm) and insists: “County will win the Dr Martens Premier Division.”

The 21-year-old striker, who drew a blank in the Terras 1-0 opening day victory over Stafford Rangers at the Wessex Stadium on Saturday, was on loan at the South Wales club for three months last term.

And Exiles boss Tim Harris had a record £20,000 bid for the former Plymouth Argyle forward turned down flatly by the chairman Terry Bennett in the summer.

At the time, Phillips made no secret of his desire to join the Welshmen – and he admitted today: “If I’m honest, I thought I’d be playing for Newport County against Weymouth tonight, not the other way around.”

And Cornwall-based Phillips revealed Weymouth’s manager Geoff Butler knows of his desire to leave the Wessex Stadium, saying: “He knows I want to play my football elsewhere.”

But he quickly added: “I will do my best at any club I play for – I want to score goals and I’ll always give 100 per cent. And I’d love to get a hat-trick against Newport County tonight!”

After spending three months at Newport Stadium, Phillips said of the Exiles: “They have a great team and I think they’ll win the league.

“They’ve got a very good keeper in Pat Mountain, their defence is strong, midfield is competitive and have quality up-front – they haven’t got a weakness.”

And he admitted Weymouth would be happy with a draw tonight, saying: “We obviously want to win every game – but we’ll settle for a draw.”

Meanwhile Butler was delighted to pick up three points in his first competitive fixture in charge of the Terras.

Mark Rawlinson got the winner from the penalty spot in a game that didn’t kick off until 4.30pm after Stafford’s coach got stuck in traffic near Bristol.

The manager said: “Talk is cheap and so it was great to actually get out there and get our first three points in the bag. There were aspects of our play that I wasn’t altogether happy with but what I can’t fault the boys for was their total commitment, passion and desire.

“There were some players who weren’t at their best, but it was those extra qualities that got us through and often that can make the difference between winning and losing.”

He added: “The delayed start didn’t help us and we were certainly at a disadvantage. Stafford literally arrived, got off the bus and ran straight out which meant they had no time to think about things whereas we’d been stuck twiddling our thumbs and were definitely flat by the time kick-off came. But you can’t ask for more than a win on the opening day and so from that point of view I’m very happy.”

Butler makes just one change tonight with Michael Sajic replacing Paul Gadsby in a squad of 16.

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