SAIKOU Janneh’s first goal for Newport County AFC proved to be the difference against a physical Tranmere side at Rodney Parade.

The Bristol City prospect opened his account for the Exiles from close range in the first half and it was enough to take the spoils.

Tranmere were reduced to 10 men after Paul Lewis’ dangerous tackle on Joss Labadie early in the second half and while County didn’t put the game to bed, they did avoid any real scares at the other end.

It was the perfect response to a first setback of the League Two campaign at Cambridge – three hard-earned points against direct opponents that were in League One last season thanks to their controversial Wembley play-off win against the Exiles.

At times it wasn’t pretty but County, for whom Scott Twine continued to impress in midfield, showed good concentration to keep a clean sheet and prevent goalkeeper Nick Townsend from having to get grass stains on his green kit.

Now they attempt to show the same organisation on the road next week at Stevenage and Bradford.

South Wales Argus:

Flynn made two changes from the side that lost in Cambridge with on-loan Swansea defender Brandon Cooper returning from Wales Under-21 duty at the expense of Scot Bennett while Janneh got the nod ahead of Padraig Amond up front.

None of County’s three deadline day loan signings – defender Aaron Lewis, midfielder Jamie Devitt and striker Jamie Proctor – featured.

Tranmere included Otis Khan, who had a spell at Rodney Parade last season that was brief because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Manny Monthe, the man who got away with bringing down Jamille Matt in the box at Wembley.

Rovers had been forced to name just five subs at Salford last weekend because a number of players were isolating after a pair of positive Covid-19 tests. This time the men from the Wirral were at least able to field a matchday squad of 18.

Tranmere headed to Newport with a strong, physical side looking to frustrate with their 4-5-1.

County, who were constantly looking to switch play, had to find a way to get the ball on the deck and to involve playmaker Josh Sheehan but it was a scrappy opening with neither goalkeeper forced into any meaningful action.

The first opening, of sorts, came after 17 minutes when a Twine scuffed free-kick from the left somehow went all the way through to Janneh, whose left-footed shot was blocked inside the box.

The brightest moment of a frustrating start came in the 23rd minute when Sheehan won a free-kick around 30 metres out and Twine forced Joe Murphy into a scrambling but smart save with a dipping effort that was tipped over the bar.

But the stopper could do nothing to stop the opener after 25 minutes when a Matty Dolan corner from the right caused mayhem in the box and the ball, possibly via a Tranmere head, fell for Janneh to finish from six metres out.

The goal settled County down and meant that Tranmere would have to come out of their shell.

South Wales Argus:

The visitors had a number of set pieces in threatening positions but the Exiles defended with concentration and had the final chance of the half when Labadie cunningly earned a yard just outside the box but his strike wasn’t clean enough to test Murphy.

Tristan Abrahams exploited miscommunication at the back to hook towards goal soon after the restart only to be denied by defender Peter Clarke but the Exiles were soon playing 10.

Labadie cut out an attempted pass by Paul Lewis and was then clattered by him, with referee Thomas Bramall showing red after protests from Twine.

County pressed for a second but couldn’t quite find the killer ball for a clear opening, while the defence had to stay alert to prevent Rovers, who hadn’t forced Townsend into a save, from getting a sniff at the other end.

The Exiles were agonisingly close to have a bit more comfort after 68 minutes when a free-kick fell to Mickey Demetriou, who slammed a superb strike at goal.

It was cleared off the line twice by Jay Spearing and any protests that it crossed the line were waved away by the linesman, understandably given the speed of the defender’s shot and the absence of goalline technology at this level.

That was followed by a sloppy period by County with the 10 men able to build some pressure through free-kicks, but still unable to force Townsend into any serious action.

It should have been 2-0 with seven minutes left when the hosts countered through Sheehan and then Twine, who laid the ball on for Janneh only for the scorer to shoot straight at Murphy.

Abrahams fired across goal but a draw remained a danger as the clock passed 90 but County safely saw out the four minutes added on.

County: Townsend, Cooper, Dolan, Demetriou, Shephard, Haynes, Labadie, Sheehan, Twine, Janneh (Amond 84), Abrahams.

Substitutes not used: King, Baker, Willmott, Webb, Bennett, Ellison.

Yellow cards: Sheehan

Goals: Janneh

Tranmere: Murphy, O'Connor, Clarke, Monthe, Ridehalgh, Lewis, Spearing (Burton 86), Banks (Feeney HT), Morris, Khan (Young 64), Woolery.

Substitutes not used: Jones, Walker-Rice, Nelson, Ellis.

Yellow card: Banks Red card: Lewis

Referee: Thomas Bramall