NEWPORT County AFC began 2015 as they ended 2014 by grinding out a win without hitting the heights and the League Two big guns must surely be looking over their shoulders now.

Six wins out of seven is promotion form in anyone’s book and County are up to fourth in the table despite not playing at anywhere near their best in coming from a goal down to beat Carlisle United.

The likes of Wycombe, Burton and especially Shrewsbury and Luton remain the favourites to go up but the Exiles cannot be ignored if they continue to produce the results they have since late August.

Justin Edinburgh’s men are now above the Hatters, who were in FA Cup action at the weekend, only a point behind the third-placed Shrews and four off leaders Wycombe.

And it’s no fluke because they are amongst the most difficult sides to beat at this level and have maintained a staggering level of consistency for more than four months now.

The 3,273 fans huddled inside a chilly Rodney Parade on Saturday afternoon didn’t witness a classic display from their side but the impressive mental strength was there for all to see.

With several players suffering the after-effects of a sickness bug in the camp the Exiles started very slowly and the Cumbrians took advantage of the hosts’ sluggishness early on.

Courtney Meppen-Walter headed Keith Curle’s men into a deserved lead on 11 minutes, beating the returning Joe Day with a neat header into the bottom corner from Kyle Dempsey’s corner.

And Edinburgh’s men were thankful to their club record signing as he showed his worth time and again in a first half largely dominated by the visitors.

Dempsey, who has been linked with a move to Premier League Burnley this month, ran the show for Carlisle early on and in Brad Potts, Antony Sweeney and Derek Asamoah he had plenty of able lieutenants.

Day saved well from Dempsey and Danny Grainger and brilliantly from Potts’ fierce drive.

As Troy Archibald-Henville headed wide from another corner Edinburgh ordered a reshuffle at the back with 16-year-old Regan Poole moved out to the right of the three centre-backs and Darren Jones coming into the heart of the defence.

The switch did the trick and County began to look more solid at the back and belatedly threatened at the other end.

Aaron O’Connor, straight back into the starting XI after his three-game ban, somehow blazed over from a yard out.

And his strike partner Chris Zebroski should also have levelled but his close range shot from Andy Sandell’s cross from the left was brilliantly saved by Carlisle keeper Dan Hanford.

Right wing-back Ryan Jackson was the main outlet, however, and his pace was the key factor in County going into the break on level terms.

Jackson burst into the box and fell dramatically with referee Darren Sheldrake deciding that Grainger had impeded him and pointing to the spot.

Adam Chapman stroked home the penalty confidently in the last minute of the half to get the Exiles off the hook.

After a dressing room dressing down from the manager County improved after the break but Curle’s men still posed a threat on the counter-attack.

Day, Poole, Jones and Ismail Yakubu had to be at their best with Dempsey attempting to land a knockout blow but Jones in particular was a rock at the back.

Mark Byrne went close with a stunning half volley and O’Connor nearly diverted Jackson’s cross in with a reflex header.

The striker then poked Byrne’s cross goalwards only for Hanford to save superbly on the line.

But County weren’t to be denied and Lee Minshull expertly picked out the top corner of the net as he fired in the rebound.

Carlisle huffed and puffed in the closing stages but never seriously threatened to force their way back into the game.

In the end it was another fine day at the office for the side that refuses to be beaten.

County: Day; Jackson, Jones, Poole, Yakubu, Sandell; Chapman, Byrne (Porter, 86), Minshull; Zebroski (Howe, 72), O’Connor

Subs not used: Stephens, Jeffers, Flynn, Klukowski, Collins

Booked: Byrne

Carlisle: Hanford; Brown, Anderson, Archibald-Henville, Grainger; Thirlwell (Robson, 75), Meppen-Walter (Rigg, 84), Dempsey; Potts, Asamoah (Beck, 72), Sweeney

Subs not used: Gillespie, Amoo, Brough, Symington

Booked: Grainger, Robson

Referee: Darren Sheldrake

Attendance: 3,273