ON A day when Newport County AFC barely tested the opposition goalkeeper, one mistake was all it took to condemn the Exiles to a fourth successive defeat in League Two.

An injury-ravaged County side battled hard at Valley Parade and they frustrated the hosts for almost an hour before defender Ryan Inniss badly misjudged a back-pass to goalkeeper Nick Townsend.

Bantams striker James Vaughan was onto the ball as quickly as a dog snaffling up a scrap of sausage under the dining table and he cleverly drew a foul from Townsend to win the decisive penalty in the 58th minute.

The former Everton man scored confidently from the spot and the Exiles’ hopes of taking a point back home to Newport evaporated.

There were still 32 minutes left on the clock, plus an incredible nine minutes of stoppage time, but Michael Flynn’s men never really looked like getting back into the contest.

They didn’t even manage a shot on target until deep into time added on and they would have been beaten more convincingly if it wasn’t for two terrific saves from man of the match Townsend.

“I thought we competed well, but we gave them a goal,” said Flynn. “We shot ourselves in the foot.

“We still didn’t do enough going forward, but we were better.

“We looked more organised and we tried to play a bit, especially in the first half.

“But we were lacking creativity and lacking movement.

“It’s not just the strikers, the quality into them wasn’t good enough.

“If it’s not good enough, they can’t do much. But when they got it, they were either flat-footed or they gave it away.

“You saw what James Vaughan does for them; he was a real handful and we’re just not doing that enough at the minute.”

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Vaughan and his strike partner Aramide Oteh were a constant menace to back three Inniss, Mark O’Brien and Ryan Haynes and Bradford boss Gary Bowyer was always confident that his side would be able to wear down the County defence.

“It was a competitive game, which in this league you’re always going to get,” said Bowyer.

“You expect teams to come here and initially raise their game and have that intensity.

“As the game goes on, they’ve got to stay at that level. We know we can do that.

“We’ve shown that this year. If anything, we’ve generally got better and stronger in the second half at this place.

“We knew that would happen. Our fitness and concentration levels were very good.

“We grew into it and had a wonderful chance with Kelvin Mellor’s header when I expected him to score.

“Remi Oteh got in a couple of times and I don’t think they had a shot on target in the first half.

“The intensity of Remi’s pressing was then amazing to force the error from Inniss. Vaughany anticipated the back pass and got around the keeper who pulled him down.”

Bowyer also paid tribute to Townsend for keeping the visitors in the game.

“The goal lifted everybody and I was disappointed that we didn’t score more,” he added.

“But you have to congratulate their goalkeeper for two outstanding saves – the header from Remi [Oteh] and the one from Paudie O’Connor, which was different class from the lad. They were two great saves.”

Townsend’s performance was the one bright spot on a bleak day for the injury-hit Exiles, who lost Robbie Willmott in the warm-up.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel with key men Mickey Demetriou and Joss Labadie close to fitness.

And, in theory at least, the next two fixtures against bottom two Stevenage and Morecambe provide the ideal chance to get back to winning ways.

Time to stop the slump.

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, Hillier

Booked: Sheehan, Townsend, Nurse

Referee: Anthony Backhouse

Attendance: 14,060 (350 County)c