NEWPORT County AFC left it late to maintain their perfect start to the season at Rodney Parade. Very late.

The Exiles looked set to drop points for the first time on home soil in League Two after being frustrated by Port Vale.

But just as County were about to lament missed chances, veteran forward Kevin Ellison slammed into the roof of the net in the sixth minute of time added on.

REACTION: Flynn gets an earful from Ellison

Michael Flynn’s men dug deep for late wins against Mansfield, Colchester and Harrogate and repeated the trick to make it a perfect six from six in Newport against a spirited and determined Valiants team.

They were given the chance to press in the final quarter after Vale were reduced to 10 men after centre-back Leon Legge was shown a second yellow for a challenge on substitute Joss Labadie.

And County finally took one of their many opportunities when the 41-year-old substitute finished comprehensively for his first goal in County colours after Matty Dolan’s corner caused chaos.

It means that the Exiles stretch their advantage at the head of League Two after second-placed Cambridge’s game at Southend was postponed. Cheltenham are three back after playing an extra game.

South Wales Argus:

Flynn had plenty of selection headaches before assistant Wayne Hatswell handed the teamsheet in just before 2pm.

They opted for a very attacking midfield trio of Josh Sheehan, Jamie Devitt and Scott Twine while Jamie Proctor got the nod ahead of Padraig Amond up front.

Liam Shephard was back from a knee injury down the right flank, relegating Ashley Baker to the bench.

It was a sign of County’s current strength in depth that Aaron Lewis failed to make the matchday squad on his return from Wales Under-21s duty.

The Bisley Stand also housed goalkeeper Tom King, who had been with newly-capped Sheehan on senior international duty but was still back-up to Nick Townsend on club duty.

County started well with Port Vale stopper Scott Brown forced into saves by Twine, with a rather floated free-kick, and Devitt, with a low drive.

It took good work at the other end to keep it scoreless after Townsend’s turn for a double, making himself big to deny David Worrall and then diving to his right to acrobatically save a curling effort from Tom Conlon.

Sheehan and Devitt wasted chances to test Brown from the edge of the box in an even first quarter of the encounter before Proctor wasted the best chance of the game.

Ryan Haynes whipped in a cross from the left that eluded the Vale defence only for the on-loan striker to fire wide from six yards out, the ball rather hitting him rather than him hitting the ball.

At the other end it was Townsend’s turn to frustrate when his positioning was spot-on to save from Mark Cullen after his pivot and shot.

It was manic, entertaining stuff with Shephard denied after 38 minutes when Brown got his fingertips to a fierce drive.

The right wing-back went even closer on 41 when he was found by Devitt’s lovely lobbed pass, cut back onto his left foot only for his shot to be blocked by Brown onto the woodwork.

Into injury time it was Shephard again who was presented with a golden opportunity after being worked in on goal only to drag a scuffed shot wide.

South Wales Argus:

The Exiles started the second half in lively fashion with Abrahams denied by a good block from a backheel finish before then nodding a Devitt ball in just wide.

The to-and-fro continued and it was Vale’s turn to have a spell of pressure approaching the hour, testing the County defence with some dangerous balls into the box.

The dynamic changed after 68 minutes when Legge was sent off after clattering Labadie late, receiving a second yellow.

Referee Alan Young had been frustratingly inconsistent all afternoon but had little choice with that call.

The Exiles had the opportunity to go for the kill with Flynn bringing on Robbie Willmott for Shephard down the right then Kevin Ellison replaced Haynes for the last six minutes.

He then crossed for fellow sub Padraig Amond to waste a free header as County kept pressing, followed by Brandon Cooper glancing a header wide from a Matty Dolan corner.

But there was still time for one last opening – and Ellison took it.