NEWPORT County AFC boss James Rowberry praised his players for responding to a first rollocking with a second-half comeback against Sutton United.

The Exiles trailed 2-0 at the break after a pair of solo strikes by David Ajiboye either side of a red card for Sutton captain Craig Eastmond.

However, County got back on level terms thanks to forward Lewis Collins' first goal of the season from distance a scrappy finish by his strike partner Courtney Baker-Richardson.

It looked like they would have to settle for a point but Jake Cain was brought down in the box in injury time and captain Matty Dolan sent the visiting goalkeeper the wrong way.

"We have shown resilience to come back and that was the first time this season that we have gone 1-0 down and come back to win a game," said manager Rowberry, who has taken 14 points out of a possible 21 since taking the job.

"That shows that we are on an upward climb, I believe. A few choice words were said at half-time and they responded brilliantly, so I can't fault the lads.

"I wouldn't say that it was scraping the paint off the wall because I am not particularly that way inclined, but I just said about my disappointment with the goals as a collective.

"It's the first time that I have had to do that at half-time and they responded really well. We have just got to build on that now and keep moving."

Rowberry made a change at the break when he replaced left wing-back Ryan Haynes, who was given a tough time by Ajiboye, with Aaron Lewis.

"I just felt that it was a change we needed to make, going to a back four. That's just football and Ryan is a top, top player in this division, I have no doubt about that," said the manager.

"I am not putting blame on him and, as I said after Colchester (when goalkeeper Joe Day was at fault), it's a collective. It was a decision for us to help us with a different dynamic in the game."

The Exiles are eighth in the table, level on points with Leyton Orient in the last play-off berth.

They are four back on third-placed Port Vale, who visit Rodney Parade on Saturday fresh from a 2-1 win at Bristol Rovers.

The Valiants endured a tough 2020/21 but appointed Darrell Clarke in February and finished the campaign strongly.

After a summer rebuild, Vale have made an impressive start to the season and will present a test of County's promotion credentials.

"Port Vale will be tough. They are a good team and we will be the underdogs because of what they have got available," said Rowberry.