NEWPORT County AFC turned up the heat on Exeter City in the race for the League Two play-offs on a glorious Good Friday afternoon at Rodney Parade.

Exeter’s home defeat to struggling Crawley Town in the early kick-off left the door ajar for County and they took full advantage to move within two points of the seventh-placed Grecians with a game in hand.

Two goals from man-of-the-match Mickey Demetriou and one from Jamille Matt were enough to see off high-flying Bury as the Exiles dazzled in the Easter sun.

The Shakers, who are still in the hunt for automatic promotion, were rocked by a brilliant high-octane start from Michael Flynn’s men.

Demetriou climbed high to flick in Matty Dolan’s free-kick with a glancing header in the fifth minute to give his side the perfect start.

Former Cardiff City striker Nicky Maynard equalised two minutes later, however, as he broke through the middle of the defence and calmly placed his shot beyond Joe Day and inside the post.

It was a sign of the quality that Bury have in their ranks and they briefly looked like wresting control of the contest as Day was forced to beat away a dangerous cross from Nicky Adams and Regan Poole did superbly to rob a rampaging Dom Telford.

But County weren’t on the back foot for long and one perfectly-judged ball over the top from Robbie Willmott quickly turned defence into attack.

Matt expertly controlled it and coolly slotted his shot between Joe Murphy’s legs to deservedly restore his side’s lead in the 14th minute.

South Wales Argus:

It was breathless stuff and top scorer Padraig Amond didn’t want to be left out.

He twice went close to adding to his 22 goals for the season after linking well with Demetriou.

Amond first controlled the centre-back’s long ball up the left touchline and turned Scott Wharton only to be denied by a smart save by Murphy.

The Irishman then collected a Demetriou knockdown at the edge of the area and sent a rapid half volley just over the bar.

Dan Butler and Demetriou both picked up bookings in a scrappy end to the first-half, but the hosts earned a thoroughly deserved standing ovation as the half-time whistle sounded.

South Wales Argus:

Matt made way for Harry McKirdy at the start of the second half and he was in the thick of the action straightaway.

McKirdy flicked the ball on for Demetriou to break at pace and the Aston Villa loan star would have had a simple tap-in if Jordan Rossiter hadn’t cut out the cross with a well-timed sliding block.

Dolan and Rossiter then both tried their luck from distance at either end without troubling the goalkeepers.

And Ben Kennedy, who had made way for Scot Bennett in the one change from last week’s win at Cambridge United, replaced Dolan midway through the second period.

The attacking midfielder, who is on loan from fellow play-off hopefuls Stevenage, posed a threat in the closing stages.

But the visitors were creating chances of their own with substitute Neil Danns screwing a shot wide and dangerman Danny Mayor curling a shot onto the bar.

The home fans sensed that their side needed another goal to seal the victory and Demetriou’s second on 75 minutes was greeted by an explosion of joy and relief in the stands at Rodney Parade.

There was still time for Bury sub Caolan Lavery to go close with a free-kick and the effervescent McKirdy to fire into the side netting, but three was enough for Flynn’s men.

The play-off chase is definitely on.

County: Day; Poole, O’Brien, Demetriou; Willmott, Sheehan, Bennett, Butler; Dolan (Kennedy, 67); Amond (Bakinson, 90), Matt (McKirdy, 46)

Subs not used: Pipe, Randall, Marsh-Brown, Azeez

Booked: Butler, Demetriou, Dolan

Referee: Peter Wright

Attendance: 4,433 (449 Bury)

Argus star man: Demetriou