NEWPORT County AFC ended Mansfield Town’s hopes of promotion last season and the Stags may just have returned the favour at Field Mill on Saturday.

Danny Rose’s 29th-minute winner won’t live on in the memory like Matty Dolan’s climactic penalty in the play-off semi-final second leg last May.

And, whereas Mansfield have been in a downwards spiral ever since that dramatic shootout defeat, there is still time for County to make another late push for a top-seven finish.

After a third defeat in four league matches, Michael Flynn’s men are down to 16th in the table – 12 points adrift of the play-off places.

They do still have three games in hand on many of the teams above them and there are 45 points still to play for, but Flynn conceded after this latest loss that a promotion challenge now looks beyond his side.

The Exiles boss admitted that they are not scoring enough goals to force their way into the reckoning this season.

And the statistics are almost as grim as the weather was in the East Midlands on Saturday: just 27 goals in 31 league games and seven hours and counting without scoring in League Two.

An injury-depleted team failed to register a shot on target and they rarely looked like scoring in admittedly terrible conditions.

Mansfield were low on confidence and seemed to be there for the taking as the visitors started brightly but it was a contest that always looked likely to be settle by a mistake and so it proved.

Mickey Demetriou’s miskick allowed the hosts to break quickly and, while the emergency left-back got back to block Nicky Maynard’s initial shot, the ball fell kindly to Rose to skip past Dale Gorman and fire into the bottom corner.

Field Mill has never been a happy hunting ground for County with just one win in 16 Football League visits – way back in 1939.

And, despite the best efforts of Storm Dennis, they weren’t blown away like they have been on previous visits.

But Mansfield grew in confidence after finding the net and were worthy winners in the end as they secured three vital points to move further away from the relegation zone.

“It was a real big win for us,” said Stags boss Graham Coughlan.

“We knew the importance of it. We deserve better than the results we've been getting.

“Today we showed what we are capable of. We thoroughly deserved that result.

“We knew what it was going to be like with the weather and you have to take the opposition into account as well. We knew they were going to chuck the kitchen sink at us.

“It wasn't the conditions to be playing nice, pretty football.”

Coughlan, who replaced John Dempster in December, also claimed that the win made amends for that semi-final defeat last season.

“It was nice to fix and correct that result from last year's play-offs,” he added.

“Newport stopped this club progressing and having a day out at Wembley.

“I made sure the players knew that over the last few days and they played with a lot of heart, character and determination.

“Every one of them stood up to be counted.”

Now it’s time for the County players to stand up and be counted in Wednesday’s Trophy semi-final against Salford City and in the league, otherwise it could be a drawn out and dreary end to the campaign.

County: King; Willmott, Inniss, Bennett, Demetriou; Green, Gorman (Dolan, 78), Labadie, Abrahams (Collins, 46); Amond, Waters (Matt, 58)

Subs not used: Howkins, Woodiwiss

Booked: Inniss, Dolan

Referee: Dean Whitestone

Attendance: 3,653 (111 County)