NEWPORT County’s unbeaten run came to an abrupt end at the PTS Academy Stadium as they conceded a goal in each half and finished with 10 men.

Ironically, the last team to beat the Exiles in a regular season League Two game was Northampton back in March, and history repeated itself this afternoon.

There never seems to be a quiet week at County – and this season is proving no exception.

The biggest topic for debate in the days leading up to the game against Keith Curle’s Cobblers was Michael Flynn’s future.

Exiles boss Flynn said he was flattered by reports linking him with the vacant managerial job at Lincoln City, but the 38-year-old also stated there had been no contact from the Imps.

However, even that didn’t ease the worries of some County fans on social media who are adamant their manager is going to depart sooner rather than later.

On top of that there was the five-game ban dished out to Ryan Inniss and resignation of academy boss Jorden Gibson after an internal investigation into his conduct.

Not ideal when you’ve got an opportunity to go top of the table.

With Inniss suspended, Kyle Howkins came into the starting XI, while Danny McNamara, back from international duty, replaced Daniel Leadbitter.

County thought they had made the perfect start when the ball nestled into the back of David Cornell’s net.

But the visitors’ joy was short-lived as skipper Joss Labadie, having converted Robbie Willmott’s free-kick with his head just two minutes in, was flagged offside.

The ball did find its way into the net three minutes later, unfortunately for County it was the Cobblers who put it there.

A fierce drive from the left was blocked but the ball fell to Andy Williams and his left-footed effort proved too hot to handle for Mark O’Brien as he tried in vain to clear.

Williams’ shot was on target, but it looked like O’Brien had it covered until he blasted the ball into the top corner of the net from two yards out.

So, County’s run of six successive clean sheets in League Two had come to an end – the goal came 586 minutes after the last one – and they took some time to regroup.

In fact, they struggled to find any sort of rhythm for the rest of the half, barely creating any chances and played second fiddle to a Town side not all that better.

Labadie, on the end of a poor challenge from Jordan Turnbull, headed over another Willmott set-piece after the Cobblers man had been booked.

County simply had to improve in the second half.

There was more urgency from the visitors after the restart, with full-backs Ryan Haynes and McNamara delivering more balls into the Northampton box.

But the Exiles nearly went further behind on the hour, and it would have been cruel on O’Brien if they had.

Nicky Adams swung a cross into the County box and O’Brien, lunging to clear the ball, almost turned it into his own net for the second time in the match.

Flynn then felt a change was needed – in this case it was two – with Jamille Matt and Corey Whitely replacing Padraig Amond and Matty Dolan.

The two substitutes made a telling impact against Port Vale and the hope was that they could do the same again.

They couldn’t, and 10 minutes after their introduction, the Cobblers struck again.

It all started from a County free-kick cleared back to keeper Tom King, but when he sent a kick up field and it landed at the feet of Charlie Goode, the Town skipper realised a break was on.

And with only Josh Sheehan in front of him, Goode fed Chris Lines who squared the ball to Sam Hoskins for an easy tap-in.

A last throw of the dice saw Flynn throw on Dominic Poleon, but it just wasn’t going to be County’s day.

Northampton substitute Egli Kaja might have got another and fellow replacement Matt Warburton went close, before County’s afternoon to forget was complete with a second yellow card for Matt.

Town: Cornell, Harriman, Goode, Wharton, Martin, Turnbull, Adams (Warburton 87), Lines, McWilliams (Kaja 53), Hoskins, Williams (Smith 79). Subs not used: Pollock, Oliver, Waters, Fisher.

County: King, McNamara (Poleon 75), O’Brien, Howkins, Haynes, Willmott, Labadie (capt), Dolan (Whitely 62), Sheehan, Amond (Matt 62), Abrahams. Subs: Leadbitter, Bennett, Maloney, Townsend.

Referee: Alan Young

Attendance: 4,616 (289 away)