NEWPORT County AFC and Tranmere Rovers served up the only goalless draw in England’s top four divisions on Saturday, but it wasn’t for lack of effort from either side.

A potentially entertaining showdown between two teams still chasing promotion was hampered by a frustrating refereeing display and a lack of quality from both sides in the final third.

Tranmere did hit the woodwork twice with Mark Ellis heading against the bar early on and substitute Chris Dagnall stabbing a shot against the post just after the hour mark.

But they seemed to be happy with a point in the end and County will definitely be more disappointed not to have earned all three.

Michael Flynn’s men thought they had won it at the death when Joss Labadie hooked in after substitute Padraig Amond’s shot was saved.

But the celebrations were cut short by an offside flag and Flynn admitted that his side probably didn’t do enough to secure a vital victory.

“It was a little bit frustrating,” said the Exiles boss. “It was a solid performance.

“There was nothing spectacular in the final third, but I thought we played some really good football against a team who are firmly in the play-offs.

“I don’t think they created too much. There was one scary moment [when they hit the post] in the second half.

“When they hit the bar [before the break] it was because we switched off.

“But we’ve kept two clean sheets against Tranmere this season and I thought the boys defended [really well]. The effort they put was excellent.

“Everything was good, apart from the final third,” he added.

“I think we were the better team and I think there was only one team trying to win it – you saw that by the substitutions I made.”

South Wales Argus:

Ade Azeez, Matty Dolan and Amond were all introduced in the final half hour as the hosts pushed for the goal that would have taken them to within four points of the play-off positions with a game in hand.

Asked if he was tempted to send on Amond earlier than the 82nd minute, Flynn said: “No, I wasn’t. He’s fit. I wouldn’t have put him on otherwise.

“[But] I thought Ade would stretch them with his pace and he did that. It just didn’t quite happen when he got into the positions [to score].

“Jamille [Matt] worked hard, and so did Joss Labadie.

“They just tired at the end and we tried to change it.

“I don’t think anyone had a bad game. I thought Ben [Kennedy] and Robbie [Willmott] were doing fairly well and Keanu [Marsh-Brown] did alright.

“We just needed to change it so we didn’t become predictable. I was trying to win the football match.”

Flynn had no issue with the late offside decision, but he declined to comment on the performance of stand-in referee Alan Young.

“I’ve seen it again and I think it was a good decision by the assistant referee,” said the manager. “I can’t complain about that.

“I’m not going to talk about the referee. I’ll get in trouble.”

The draw sees County drop to 13th in the table but they remain six points below seventh-placed Exeter City with a game in hand.

“We’ve just got to keep going,” said Flynn ahead of Tuesday’s home clash with 10th-placed Swindon Town.

“Swindon is a massive game; we need the three points but they’re all big games. There’s no [extra] pressure.

“It will be really tough but it is what it is. We’ve got a game at home. If we win, great. If we don’t, we move on to next Saturday [at Cambridge United].

“We’re doing well but it is a bit frustrating," he added. "I don’t want to look back when the season’s over and rue a couple of games that are still getting on my nerves.

“I am hoping that we keep playing well and we will see where it takes us.”

County: Day; Poole, O’Brien, Demetriou, Butler; Sheehan, Labadie; Willmott (Amond, 82), Marsh-Brown (Azeez, 62), Kennedy (Dolan, 69); Matt

Subs not used: Pipe, Crofts, Randall, McKirdy

Booked: Labadie, Butler, Poole, O’Brien

Referee: Alan Young

Attendance: 3,970 (670 Tranmere)