NEWPORT County AFC claimed their first League Two win of the season after Ryan Taylor’s strike at the start of the second half saw off bullish Barrow.

The well-organised National League champions ensured it wasn’t a routine afternoon at Rodney Parade but the Exiles deservedly took the spoils to build on an encouraging start to the campaign.

They weren’t as flowing as they had been in victory against Cambridge United in the Carabao Cup but did a professional job after a shaky first half.

It was 1-1 at the break after Liam Shephard’s drive was cancelled out by Lewis Hardcastle after a defensive error.

The favour was returned early in the second half with a Barrow howler allowing striker Taylor to regain the lead for the Exiles.

The hosts didn’t create the amount of chances that they did in midweek but were solid at the back to avoid any real scares to build on their opening weekend draw at Scunthorpe.

South Wales Argus:

Flynn made three changes to the XI that performed excellently in the Carabao Cup victory against Cambridge.

Nick Townsend returned in goal and there was a new strike partnership of Taylor and Saikou Janneh, who had been lively off the bench against Scunthorpe and the U’s.

Utility man Scot Bennett made a welcome return on the bench, his first involvement of the season, and the strength in depth was shown by fit-again Matty Dolan not featuring in the matchday 18.

The midfielder-turned-defender was put through his paces in the pre-match warm-up by former Exiles skipper David Pipe.

County had a couple of early scrapes as they attempted to play out from the back but gradually settled on a sunny but blustery afternoon with Scott Twine going close with a whipped free-kick that went past the left post from just outside the box.

Exiles defender Kyle Howkins knew that he could make no more mistakes after being shown yellow after catching dangerman Dior Angus late and the visitors went close when a low cross from the right by Brad Barry deflected just over Townsend’s bar.

But County got a goal to settle them down in the 19th minute courtesy of Shephard’s fine strike.

A cross from the left fell to Scott Twine and the forward stayed calm after being unable to sort his feet out, laying the ball off for his wing-back to drill into the left corner.

South Wales Argus:

The Exiles had the lead – but were lucky to hold onto it.

Barrow forced them into a mistake at the back and Tom Beadling was just denied with a deflected strike.

It was a warning that County didn’t heed and the visitors were level after 27 minutes when Mickey Demetriou was caught out and the cross from the right was swept home nicely by Hardcastle.

That prompted a period of pressure from the well-drilled Cumbrians, who were causing plenty of headaches for the back three.

Barrow went close to getting their noses in front only for Luke James’ dangerous ball across the box to be scrambled clear.

Unlike against Cambridge, County were struggling to impose themselves on the game and would have been happy to get back to their changing room on level terms to reassess.

Yet after gifting an equaliser, the Exiles were then gifted the lead three minutes after the restart.

Defender James Jones was put under pressure when going back towards his goal and then bizarrely opted to play the ball across his box.

He played the ball straight to Taylor, who controlled and then slammed home for his second league goal of the season.

It was much better from the Exiles at the start of the second half with pressure forcing the visitors into mistakes at the back.

Janneh had a shot well blocked on the edge of the box as County looked for a two-goal buffer approaching the hour.

The play was almost exclusively in the Barrow half – the Exiles needed to conjure another opening, but concentration was key.

The clock ticked past 80 and a warning, as if County needed one, came when a free-kick was dinked into the box and Barrow pleaded for a penalty after an attacker went to ground.

Referee Robert Lewis waved away the appeals, and avoided an ear-bashing from Flynn.

County brought on Joss Labadie for Twine in a bid to seal the spoils, while Shephard limped off after being caught on the Achilles with Ashley Baker coming on.

Mr Lewis managed to find eight minutes of injury time but the Exiles safely saw out the time without any real scares.

County: Townsend, Haynes, Howkins, Cooper, Willmott, Sheehan (captain), Twine (Labadie 85), Janneh, Demetriou, Taylor (Abrahams 75), Shephard (Baker 85).

Subs not used: King, Amond, Bennett, Collins.

Yellow cards: Howkins, Abrahams

Goals: Shephard, Taylor

Barrow: Dixon, Brown, Hird, M Jones, Hardcastle (captain), J Jones, Beadling, Angus, Ntlhe, Barry, James. Subs: Lillis, Taylor, Gribin, Wilson, Hindle, Biggins.

Yellow card: M Jones, J Jones, Brown

Goals: Hardcastle

Referee: Robert Lewis