ON A day when the EFL and charity partner Mind aimed to raise awareness of mental health issues, this was a game that was won with the head and the heart more than anything else.

Bradford City boss Stuart McCall felt his side demonstrated a “mental fragility” as they went down 2-1 at Rodney Parade, despite taking the lead midway through the first half through Clayton Donaldson.

In contrast, Newport County AFC manager Michael Flynn praised the “resilience” of his players as they responded superbly to the blow of falling behind to turn the match on its head within seven minutes through goals from defenders Ryan Inniss and Scot Bennett.

But it wasn’t just about the character that County showed in the 90 minutes on Saturday.

The result and the performance were even more impressive when put into the context of the week and the month that the Exiles had endured beforehand.

Flynn all but conceded that the play-offs were beyond his side after they dropped to 16th in the League Two table following the 1-0 defeat at Mansfield Town last weekend.

And his side had also seen their dream of a return to Wembley cruelly ended last Wednesday after a penalty shootout defeat to Salford City in the Leasing.com Trophy semi-final.

Add to that the fact that they had gone seven-and-a-half hours without scoring in the league and it’s safe to say that the home fans would have been fearing the worst when Donaldson climbed above Mickey Demetriou to head Bradford in front.

But Inniss, the man who missed the crucial penalty in midweek, was in the right place to head in at the far post from a corner to get County back on level terms almost immediately.

And Bennett hammered in what proved to be the winner when the Bantams failed to deal with another corner shortly afterwards.

The Rodney Parade faithful were rubbing their eyes in disbelief and McCall couldn’t believe what he was seeing either.

South Wales Argus:

“We showed a mental fragility,” said the man who replaced Gary Bowyer in the Valley Parade hotseat earlier this month.

“Sometimes you see clever corners, people get blocks, well-worked ones. It wasn’t that – it was about taking responsibility for your man and we didn’t do that.

“Newport had not scored for a while and they were a bit fragile themselves. Then we get a goal and we should have gone on from there but we threw it away.

“They’ve had three corners and scored from two. We’ve had to defend corners and long throws and not done it and that’s ultimately cost us the game.

“Newport are a very good side and this is a tough place to come but we should have done better.”

County should have increased their advantage as they dominated the closing stages of the first half.

But they had to defend for their lives in difficult conditions after the break and Flynn was delighted with the way his players put their bodies on the line, typified by man-of-the-match Inniss making several important blocks late on.

“It was always going to be tough in the last 20 minutes,” said Flynn.

“They had the wind and they were going for it, and they’ve got a lot of good players.

“I was a little bit worried and nervous towards the end.

“We knew what was coming – that’s why we put Kyle [Howkins] on. It wasn’t a negative substitution.

“Dale [Gorman] was tiring and we got Kyle on to deal with the aerial threat – the crosses and free-kicks and diagonals that were coming in – and we moved Scot Bennett forward to read the game and have a defensive mind in midfield.”

In the end, his side held on to seal what felt like a big three points and there were smiles all around Rodney Parade once again.

County: King; Inniss, Bennett, Demetriou; Willmott, Gorman (Howkins, 79), Sheehan, Haynes; Green (Abrahams, 74), Matt, Khan (Dolan, 89)

Subs not used: Jefferies, Waters, Collins, Amond

Booked: Inniss, King

Referee: Joshua Smith

Attendance: 3,439 (467 Bradford)