NEWPORT County AFC suffered another blow to their promotion hopes with a 3-0 defeat at play-off rivals Hartlepool United.
A sweet strike from Luke James and a calamitous own goal credited to Andy Sandell either side of half-time condemned the Exiles to defeat after a promising first half display and a third in injury time from Luke Williams rubbed salt into the wound.
Justin Edinburgh’s men were on top with Ryan Burge and David Pipe catching the eye on the flanks before James put the hosts ahead five minutes before the break.
But after the own goal on 55 minutes the visitors never looked like getting back into the game despite the introduction of Max Porter, Christian Jolley and Chris Zebroski from the bench.
County drop to tenth in the League Two table but are still eight points off the play-offs with three games in hand.
Exiles boss Edinburgh said: "We deserved perhaps a little bit better. For long spells of the first half I thought we looked comfortable and we had some good chances.
"But the goals we gave away, certainly the first two, we're disappointed with and if you're going to keep chasing games it's hard to come back at any level.
"I thought we lost a little bit of belief once we went to 2-0."