NEWPORT County AFC suffered a fourth successive defeat in League Two as a second-half penalty earned Bradford City all three points at a vociferous Valley Parade.

After progressing in the FA Cup and Leasing.com Trophy, an injury-hit County produced a battling display on their return to league action.

But a mistake from centre-back Ryan Inniss just before the hour proved decisive and handed Bradford a deserved three points.

The Exiles are down to 12th in the table, four points below seventh-placed Northampton Town with two games in hand.

Manager Michael Flynn made three changes from the starting XI for the FA Cup win at Maldon & Tiptree with Danny McNamara, Taylor Maloney and George Nurse replacing Kyle Howkins, Dom Jefferies and Jamille Matt.

McNamara was initially named on the bench but was drafted in at the last minute after Robbie Willmott suffered a problem in the warm-up.

His inclusion helped give the side a more solid look in defence and the Exiles frustrated the hosts for the opening 45 minutes.

Striker Aramide Oteh was the main threat for the Bantams and he showed his intent early on with a clever flick over Inniss before Mark O’Brien and Nick Townsend smothered the danger.

Oteh then turned Innis and fired a shot just over the bar from the edge of the area.

And the Queens Park Rangers loanee did have the ball in the net after half an hour, but the whistle had already been blown for a foul.

Kelvin Mellor headed over from a Jake Reeves free-kick after Josh Sheehan was harshly penalised and booked, apparently for dissent.

And Reeves also failed to hit the target with a long-distance effort a minute before the break.

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County failed to create anything of note going forward in the first half, but they looked much more positive in the opening minutes of the second.

Tristan Abrahams went close with a piledriver from 25 yards that just cleared Richard O’Donnell’s bar, Sheehan shot wide from distance and Padraig Amond appealed for a penalty after his header appeared to hit a Bradford hand in the box.

Referee Anthony Backhouse was unmoved, but he had little choice other than to point to the spot at the other end on 58 minutes.

James Vaughan raced onto a woefully under-hit back pass from Inniss and went to ground in the box after feeling contact from Townsend, who escaped with a booking under the double jeopardy rule.

And the former Everton front man confidently dispatched the penalty to put his side ahead and ease some of the tension amongst the large home crowd.

It should have been 2-0 on 66 minutes when Oteh was denied a deserved goal by a brilliant reflex save from Townsend, pushing the header onto the bar and away to safety.

Townsend again came to the rescue on 73 minutes to keep out a close-range effort from Paudie O’Connor.

Flynn sent on Matt and Dominic Poleon in place of Amond and McNamara, but the hosts were well on top in the closing stages with Chris Taylor heading over and Anthony O’Connor sending a crashing volley just off target.

There was brief hope for the travelling fans when nine minutes were added on for stoppages but two tame Sheehan efforts were all their side could muster on a day when the Exiles rarely threatened.

County: Townsend: Inniss, O’Brien, Haynes; McNamara (Poleon, 76), Maloney, Sheehan, Dolan (Collins, 86), Nurse; Abrahams, Amond (Matt, 65)

Subs not used: King, Woodiwiss, Jefferies

Booked: Sheehan, Townsend, Nurse

Referee: Anthony Backhouse

Attendance: 14,060 (350 County)

Argus star man: Townsend