LEAGUE Two matches are usually decided by fine margins and Newport County AFC finally saw their luck run out against Salford City on Saturday.

The EFL newcomers became the first visiting team to take three points home from Rodney Parade since MK Dons nicked a late 1-0 win on their way to promotion way back on February 12.

Almost nine months and 16 unbeaten games later, two free headers from set-pieces either side of half-time sealed a 2-1 win for Graham Alexander’s team.

But it could have been different if County had taken their chances – a familiar refrain so far this season, despite a good start to the campaign.

Padraig Amond really should have buried a close-range header from a tempting Ryan Haynes cross at 0-0.

Josh Sheehan was unfortunate to see his shot rebound off the post as his side chased a second equaliser 12 minutes from time.

And substitute Tristan Abrahams may have lost his status as first-choice penalty taker as his spot-kick was saved by the legs of Ammies goalkeeper Mark Howard in the 81st minute.

Michael Flynn was unhappy with Abrahams’ failure to pick out the corner of the net and he felt his side would have forced a winner if they’d levelled from the spot.

South Wales Argus:

“I don’t know what Tristan was doing with the penalty,” said the Exiles boss.

“I don’t mind somebody missing, but not when they go down the middle. It doesn’t sit right with me.

“If he’d scored, we would have gone on and won the game – that’s what we do.”

Salford manager Alexander agreed that the penalty save was the key moment in a frenetic finale.

“It was a massive turning point,” said the former Scotland international.

“I could see something coming. I can understand why some of the decisions were given, but there were some really cheap ones as well. The crowd make it like that here.

“I wasn’t sure even if the challenge was in the box, but generally if you are the away team it is going to go against you.

“But it was a fantastic save from Mark. You need big moments like that to go your way in games. It gave an extra boost to the players to defend for the remaining period.”

In contrast to County, Salford were clinical with two shots on target and two goals.

Both were gifts as far as Flynn was concerned as his defenders were caught cold from set-pieces.

Cameron Burgess got away from Ryan Inniss to nod in a Craig Conway corner five minutes before the break.

And, after Nathan Pond had headed into his own net to level in first-half stoppage time, Lois Maynard outmuscled Matty Dolan to meet Ibou Touray’s free-kick and head past Tom King.

“It was a brilliant performance,” said Alexander. “Newport have got a fantastic home record and you can see why.

“They put you under immense pressure, the crowd get behind them and they put pressure on the officials as well. You have to defend your box and, apart from the goal, we did that really well.

“We played some good stuff at times, even though it was a difficult pitch to play on because of the rain. When we got the ball down, we found good pockets of space and we moved it well.

“We just needed another goal to ease the pressure we were under at the end, but it was a massive win for us.”

County will feel they should have had something to show for their efforts but this was another disjointed display – sloppy at the back, lacklustre in midfield and wasteful in attack.

Flynn will hope a switch in focus to the FA Cup can help his side get back on track after a disappointing fortnight.

County: King; O’Brien, Bennett, Inniss; Willmott (Whitely, 71), Dolan (Abrahams, 66), Sheehan, Maloney (McNamara, 62), Haynes; Amond, Matt

Subs not used: Townsend, Nurse, Collins, Poleon

Booked: Bennett, Sheehan

Referee: Will Finnie

Attendance: 3,947 (148 Salford)