NEWPORT County were again struck by their curse against Morecambe as the Exiles’ bogey side once again left Rodney Parade with three points.

County have failed to so much as manage a draw with the Shrimps in four meetings of abject misery for Jimmy Dack and his charges, with today’s reversal perhaps the worst display yet from County against the team who always find a way to beat them.

The Exiles had more possession, more corners and more shots than the visitors, though Morecambe boss Jim Bentley would no doubt point to the fact that his goalkeeper Andreas Arestidou was forced to make just a single save this time around as the visitors defended beautifully in a contest that was anything but.

The Exiles usually find games against Morecambe to be their equivalent of climbing Mount Everest without being able to use their limbs, an insurmountable challenge where bad luck and a sense of injustice are seeming inevitabilities.

It might be a referee, a moment of genius or nefarious diving from Kevin Ellison, a header from the smallest player on the pitch or Tom Naylor’s own personal nightmares playing out in public, but the Exiles have made an art form of snatching defeat from clashes with Morecambe.

Manager Jimmy Dack had indicated he’d have a full squad at his disposal aside from long-term absentee – and programme front cover star – Andrew Hughes, but the absence of striker Aaron O’Connor certainly blunted an Exiles attack already labouring in the past month.

County’s goals in recent weeks have come almost exclusively from their midfielders, and central pairing Mark Byrne and Max Porter were instantly in the ascendency, setting a good tempo as the Exiles started brightly, but strikers Shaun Jeffers and Rene Howe never looked capable of taking advantage.

Full-backs Ryan Jackson and in particular David Tutonda were bright outlets, beating their markers – including ex-Exiles Alan Goodall – with regularity, though Jackson was found wanting with his final ball.

However, County’s frustration at failing to make an early breakthrough was compounded when they fell behind to the visitors’ very first foray forward, a goal that was especially hard to take for those with an amber perspective due to the poor defending that accompanied it.

It was striker Jack Redshaw who found the net, drilling under Joe Day on eight minutes after Porter, Darren Jones and Ismail Yakubu all dithered attempting to clear, with Redshaw showing poise and focus.

The Exiles responded with maximum huff and puff and minimum quality, the half drifting along with County’s final ball in particular letting them down, Jackson guilty of several over and under hit crosses as Morecambe comfortably soaked up Newport’s attempts to pressure.

Byrne and Tutonda aside the Exiles were wasteful in possession and a 4-4-2 system with both Miles Storey and Yan Klukowski deployed out of position as wingers did neither player any good as Morecambe looked poised and controlled, though rarely risking the chance to commit a few extra players forward.

Byrne and Porter both missed the target with long range efforts and it was actually the visitors who could have extended their lead, but Day responded with a smart save to deny Redshaw a second.

The Exiles lost Yan Klukowski to injury, but the introduction of sub Robbie Willmott lifted the home faithful, County looking especially strong down the left with Willmott complementing the impressive Tutonda.

Willmott forced Andreas Arestidou to beat away his shot on 50 minutes, the first time the visiting goalkeeper had been called into action as the Exiles upped the tempo.

Willmott thought he’d provided an equaliser on the hour when Jeffers looked to turn home his superb cross, but the linesman flagged for offside, even though Willmott wasn’t alone in claiming Jeffers didn’t touch the ball.

Caretaker boss Jimmy Dack sent for Chris Zebroski who was instantly into the thick of things, his impressive effort even as he lost his balance forcing Morecambe into a vital last-ditch block as they protected their slender advantage.

Newport’s pressure was relentless as the clock ticked down, Ismail Yakubu heading over Willmott’s corner as Dack threw on Adam Chapman in a search of a match changing moment, but it never came with the visitors closer to pinching a second than County were to finding a leveller.

Newport County: Day, Jackson, Tutonda, Jones, Yakubu, Porter (Chapman 71), Byrne, Klukowski (Willmott 47), Storey, Jeffers (Zebroski 65), Howe

Subs not used: Stephens, Feely, Minshull, Flynn Booked: Jackson, Zebroski

Booked: Jackson, Zebroski

Morecambe: Arestidou, Beeley, Kenyon (Wright 82), Hughes, Edwards, Redshaw (Mullin 71), Williams (Amond 65), Ellison, Goodall, Wilson, Parrish

Subs not used: Jones, Devitt, Sampson, McGowan

Booked: Parrish

Referee: Andy D’Urso

Attendance: 2883 (away 72)