NEWPORT County AFC closed the gap at the bottom of League Two with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Crawley Town.

Mickey Demetriou’s first-half screamer separated the sides and earned the Exiles only their third home win of the season in the league.

Both sides were reduced to 10 men in the second half as County captain Joss Labadie and Crawley’s Welsh defender Josh Yorwerth saw red.

Flynn’s men should have won more comfortably but they survived some nervy moments in the closing stages to move to within five points of safety with six games left to play.

Mitch Rose and Mark O’Brien both came straight back into the starting XI in place of Tom Owen-Evans and Darren Jones.

And County started as if they meant business with plenty of strong tackles and plenty high balls into the Crawley box on a soggy Rodney Parade pitch.

They could have been ahead inside 10 minutes had referee Darren England not inexplicably failed to point to the spot for a blatant hand ball by Crawley’s Welsh defender Josh Yorwerth.

But, rather than feel sorry for themselves, the County players continued to attack with a real sense of purpose, with Alex Samuel (below) a constant menace in support of Ryan Bird.

South Wales Argus:

Sean Rigg always posed a danger as well, though he should have done better than smash the ball out for a throw-in when presented with a gift by the visiting defence after 15 minutes.

The Exiles didn’t have to wait long for their deserved opening goal, however.

Another chance appeared to have gone begging as Crawley half cleared but Josh Payne’s pass to Enzio Boldewijn was intercepted by Demetriou, who lashed the ball into the top corner from 25 yards out.

It was the defender’s first goal in County colours and his first for anybody since 2015 and it got Rodney Parade rocking.

County pushed for a second and Labadie was denied by the quick thinking of Glenn Morris in the Crawley goal before Rigg curled a free-kick just over the bar and Ryan Bird headed high and wide from Rigg’s cross.

The visitors rarely threatened but Rhys Murphy went pretty close with a curled a shot inches wide three minutes before the break.

Most of the action was at the other end and Rose saw a shot palmed away before Samuel headed narrowly over the top in first-half stoppage time.

The second half was just six minutes old when both sides were reduced to 10 men after an off-the-ball altercation between Labadie and former Wales under-21 international Yorwerth.

That disrupted things for a short time but the game soon settled down to its previous pattern with County looking the more likely to add to the score sheet.

Demetriou almost doubled his tally but his close-range header was tipped over and Bird wasted a glorious opportunity to kill the game off when he took the ball round Morris before flicking wide of an open goal under pressure (below).

South Wales Argus:

The home fans sang “We’re Newport County, we’ll fight to the end” as their side survived six minutes of nailbiting time added on to claim a vital victory.

County: Day; O’Brien, Bennett, Demetriou; Pipe, Labadie, Rose (Owen-Evans, 75), Butler; Rigg, Bird (Myrie-Williams, 83), Samuel (Nelson, 90)

Subs not used: Bittner, Barnum-Bobb, Randall, Gordon

Booked: Demetriou

Sent off: Labadie

Referee: Darren England

Attendance: 2,946 (113 Crawley)

Argus star man: Samuel