THERE were mixed emotions for Newport County AFC as they left Home Park on Saturday; pride in their performance, frustration over the result, exasperation with the officials and probably a little envy in regards of the impressive stadium and playing surface.

After former County loanee Tyreeq Bakinson wriggled free of Joss Labadie from a corner to tap in from what looked to be an offside position to give Plymouth Argyle a fifth-minute lead, it was a familiar story for Michael Flynn’s men.

The Exiles have already defeated Plymouth and Crewe Alexandra at Rodney Parade this season and beaten leaders Swindon Town home and away.

And they proved again that they can compete with the automatic promotion contenders.

With George Nurse, on for the injured Ryan Haynes after just five minutes, and Jordan Green a constant threat down the flanks, and Labadie and Josh Sheehan shining in the middle, there were plenty of chances for the visitors.

Sadly, as has so often been the case this season, they failed to take the opportunities that they created.

Only one team – Cheltenham Town – has conceded fewer goals than County in League Two this term, but only one side – bottom club Stevenage – have scored fewer.

Jamille Matt, Padraig Amond, Labadie and Sheehan all went close without finding the net on Saturday.

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Amond was also unlucky to see a shot deflected onto the post in the first half, while Mickey Demetriou deserved a goal as his superb free-kick hit the angle of post and bar in a frantic finale after Pilgrims skipper Gary Sawyer was sent off for wiping out the rampaging Green five minutes from time.

The hosts were hanging on at the death and their passionate celebrations after the final whistle showed how hard they had to fight for the points, something that was acknowledged by boss Ryan Lowe – even if he was less than complimentary about the Exiles’ style of play.

“I did not necessarily enjoy the game,” said Lowe. “I enjoyed it at full-time.

“It's a satisfying win. Flynny always beats me! He's a great manager.

“We have to give credit to Newport; they didn't come and roll over.

“They showed what they were about, but we nullified them well and I'm pleased with our application.

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“We knew it wasn’t going to be a footballing game,” he added.

“We had three days prep on it and worked on it.

“[It was] car-crash football, if you like. That’s the style Newport adopt, which is good for them.

“They do try and play also, I’m not taking that away from them, but we knew balls were coming in the box, whether it was long throws, free-kicks or corners.

“Wherever it was coming from, it was coming in the box. We knew that.

“Our lads have been well-drilled all week and I can’t praise them enough. They were brilliant in every department, so fair play.

“Sometimes you have to roll your sleeves up and our lads rolled their sleeves up. They dealt with every ball that came into the box.

“So, yeah, we are a football-based team but when you do the nitty-gritty bit, and the dirty side of it, and you get points for it then it makes it more pleasing.”

Winning ugly is essential for promotion-winning teams and Lowe’s men look a good bet for a return to League One.

County know they must start converting their chances if they are to challenge for a top-seven spot again.

County: King, Baker (Howkins, 56), Bennett, Demetriou, Haynes (Nurse, 5), Green, Labadie, Sheehan, Willmott; Matt, Amond (Waters, 74)

Subs not used: Townsend, Gorman, Dolan, Abrahams

Booked: Labadie, Matt

Referee: Ollie Yates

Attendance: 10,966 (415 County)x