JUST like at Dagenham on Saturday, Newport County AFC rode their luck and stole all three points to climb the League Two table.

Mark Byrne’s winner 16 minutes from time was very much against the run of play but Justin Edinburgh’s men won’t care as a second successive 1-0 win moved them within a point of the play-off places.

And the Exiles were again thankful to an inspired performance from goalkeeper Joe Day.

The stopper on loan from Peterborough saved a second half penalty from Southend United’s Myles Weston before Byrne sealed a third straight league win with his first goal for the club.

The win was all the more remarkable as County’s curse with injuries continued.

Edinburgh was unable to pick Ismail Yakubu or Yan Klukowski and could only name six substitutes, including two teenagers and two 20-year-olds.

Into the starting XI came Kevin Feely and Scott Tancock for the injured duo and Max Porter and Aaron O’Connor for James Loveridge and Joe Pigott, who dropped to the bench.

With Robbie Willmott out for up to five months with a foot injury and Ryan Jackson still not fully recovered from a hamstring problem, Andy Sandell was asked to fill in at right wing-back with Andrew Hughes on the left.

It was a disappointingly small crowd on a chilly autumn night at Rodney Parade and those that stayed away didn’t exactly miss much in the drab opening stages.

The first real chance for either side came on the half hour after some pinball defending in the County box.

Ryan Leonard’s ball was poked goalwards by Barry Corr, blocked and Michael Timlin’s follow-up was diverted wide by teammate Myles Weston.

Three minutes later Lee Minshull was thankful to Darren Jones, who cleared off the line after his teammate almost put through his own net under pressure from Corr.

And just before the break Jerome Williams’ cross hit Weston and Day was grateful to see it go over his bar to safety.

The hosts only half chance of the opening 45 minutes came in time added on when the ball broke invitingly to O’Connor but he couldn’t control it and collided with visiting ‘keeper Dan Bentley.

A corner count of 8-1 in the visitors favour told the story of the first half but the Shrimpers couldn’t find the net.

They remained on top in the early exchanges after the break, however, with Feely and Jones both called upon to make vital tackles to stop Phil Brown’s men in their tracks.

And striker Chris Zebroski added his name to the list of County defensive heroes with a brilliantly timed tackle to rob Weston just as the Southend front man was taking aim at Day’s goal.

That was probably justification enough for Zebroski’s shock move to right wing-back after Tancock was withdrawn with another injury.

Southend continued to pour forward and it was the superb Day who kept his side on level terms in an inspired five-minute spell.

He denied Shrimpers skipper John White with a stunning point blank save and then came his penalty heroics.

Feely was somewhat harshly adjudged to have handled in the box and Weston struck the spot kick confidently but Day dived low to his left and kept the ball out with two hands.

If the visitors felt hard done by not to be ahead they were on the floor when Byrne’s goal shocked everyone on 74 minutes.

It came out of nowhere from County who had been under the cosh for almost the entire match but O’Connor’s clever knockdown fell neatly into Byrne’s path and the Irish star demonstrated superb technique to steer his half volley into the bottom corner.

Southend never recovered and sub Loveridge almost put an added gloss on the scoreline but 1-0 will do County just fine.

Edinburgh said: "It was a tough battle and the conditions played a part, but I'm delighted with the win.

"In terms of the personnel that we're missing in the team right now, I think it was a magnificent victory.

"Joe Day gave us an opportunity to go on and win the game, and when Joe was called upon he made a great penalty save."

County: Day, Sandell, Tancock (Pigott, 53), Feely, Jones, Hughes, Porter (Flynn, 59), Minshull, Byrne (Loveridge, 80), Zebroski, O'Connor

Subs not used: Pidgeley, Owen-Evans, Collins

Booked: Porter

Southend: Bentley, White, Thompson, Prosser, Timlin (Payne, 82), Corr (Coulthirst, 89), Weston (Barnard, 66), Atkinson, Leonard, Deegan, Williams

Subs not used: Hurst, Bolger, Clifford, Smith

Booked: Timlin

Referee: Keith Hill

Attendance: 2,558

Argus star man: Joe Day