VIDEO: Newport County 1 Plymouth 2
IT WAS another bad night on and off the pitch for Newport County AFC as Plymouth plundered three points at Rodney Parade.
First half strikes from Tyler Harvey and Conor Hourihane, either side of Chris Zebroski’s equaliser, boosted the Pilgrims' play-off hopes.
But the result left County still looking over their shoulders to the League Two relegation zone and now with no games in hand over their rivals.
And there was a big blow for the Exiles before kick-off as Ismail Yakubu was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with an ankle injury he picked in the 1-1 draw at Chesterfield on Saturday.
“It’s a real bad one. It looks like he’s severely damaged ankle ligaments,” said manager Justin Edinburgh of his influential central defender.
“He may need an operation, but he's going to be out for a minimum of 12 weeks.
“That’s just about how our luck’s gone this season with injuries,” he added.
“I don’t go on too much about it but we’ve had an horrendous time of it.
“But we’ve dealt with it as a squad and a club very well. Credit to the players but it’s a big blow for us.”
In Yakubu’s absence there was a recall for Darcy Blake after his suspension as the Wales international looked to rekindle his promising partnership with young Kevin Feely.
Both sides started brightly on a beautiful night for football and County captain Mike Flynn could have given his side the lead inside the first ten minutes.
Saturday’s goal hero Max Porter clipped in a deft through ball but the skipper’s header was way off target.
At the other end Hourihane forced a fine save from Exiles goalkeeper Ian McLoughlin and Marvin Morgan couldn’t profit from the rebound.
But the visitors were ahead on 21 minutes when Nathan Thomas was given far too much time and space to cross from the left flank and Harvey headed home unmarked inside the six yard box.
While the sizable travelling support went wild, the home fans must have mentally prepared themselves for another evening of suffering at Rodney Parade.
It seems a long time since we were able to refer to County’s home as a fortress with only one win in 11 here since the turn of the year and none since the 3-2 victory over Oxford United on February 18.
That compares to only one home defeat in League Two in 2013 – the freak 3-2 loss to Morecambe in September when Tom Naylor hit the self-destruct button.
To their credit Edinburgh’s men responded well on this occasion with the impressive Zebroski levelling matters against one of his many former clubs within six minutes.
The Exiles’ top scorer raced onto a long ball forward, outpaced Maxime Blanchard and beat Jake Cole with an expert finish for his 11th goal of the season.
But the Pilgrims still believe they can make the top seven and they showed their willingness to fight for the points straight away.
Reuben Reid found Hourihane in space just inside the box and the visiting skipper fired past McLoughlin to restore his side’s lead on the half hour.
The hosts made a game of it after the break with Zebroski again going close to levelling with a header just wide from Robbie Willmott’s corner.
And substitute Christian Jolley made an immediate impact with some superb footwork to beat two players inside the area and set up Flynn but the skipper fired just over the top of Cole’s bar.
Curtis Nelson clipped the outside of the post late on and Hourihane curled one just over the top but two goals were enough for a precious three points for the visitors as the Exiles’ Rodney Parade pain went on.
County: McLoughlin, Hughes, Feely, Blake, Jackson, Porter, Minshull (Jolley, 64), Flynn (Burge, 81), Jeffers (Howe, 64), Zebroski, Willmott
Subs not used: Pipe, Sandell, Naylor, Holloway
Plymouth: Cole, Blanchard, Hourihane, Reid, Morgan (Showumni, 70), Wotton, Trotman, Nelson, Harvey (Blizzard, 78), Thomas (Berry, 88), Gurrieri
Subs not used: Dawson, Boco, Banton, Purrington
Referee: Scott Mathieson
Argus star man: Zebroski
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