NEWPORT County AFC moved five points clear at the top of the League Two thanks to another late winner at Rodney Parade.

Brandon Cooper’s header in the 88th minute sneaked a 2-1 win against Harrogate Town, four days after Padraig Amond had scored at the death against Colchester.

The Exiles looked set for a frustrating draw after Amond’s opener had been cancelled out by Will Smith at the end of the first half despite Harrogate being reduced to 10 men, when captain Josh Falkingham receiving a second yellow for a dive in the box.

Yet County struck when centre back Cooper met Scott Twine’s whipped, dipping corner to earn three points.

Here are the talking points from Rodney Parade...


No, but that hope about a promotion push needs to be combined with a recognition that the League Two campaign is only just into double figures of games played.

It’s not just the fact that County have dropped points just twice – a draw at Scunthorpe that should have been a win and a loss at Cambridge that could have been a draw – but the way that they have picked up the points.

The Exiles have played some lovely football but have also done the dirty work. They have thrived with a 3-5-2 yet can also play a flat back four (as they did late on against Harrogate). They have competition in all positions.

Yet we are not even a quarter of the way into the campaign and there are sure to be injuries, suspensions and, in all probability, some coronavirus challenges.

County took six points from fixtures against Colchester and Harrogate that could easily have been a draw and they have some tough games coming up in November.

Manager Michael Flynn's side have momentum, hence why he has resisted making changes in order to get points on the board.

Carlisle will be a huge test on Tuesday and a look at the clubs occupying the promotion spots and play-off zone shows the size of the task for the Exiles.

This is going to be a huge tussle for the four promotion spots but there is no reason why County shouldn’t be in the mix come May, even without the need for Wembley.

South Wales Argus: IMPRESSIVE: Harrogate frustrated County and Ryan Haynes with their work rateIMPRESSIVE: Harrogate frustrated County and Ryan Haynes with their work rate


County manager Michael Flynn was quick to praise the opposition in two post-match interviews in a week, first hailing the quality of Colchester’s lively forwards and then lauding the work of Harrogate.

Saturday’s visitors were mightily impressive – they were well organised, resilient after a red card and still posed a threat on the break – and that makes the three points all the more pleasing.

“I have a lot of respect for Harrogate, their hard work was refreshing and they stuck to their jobs,” said the Exiles boss about the League Two new boys.

“Harrogate had 10 men but worked extremely hard and you have to give them a lot of credit.”

READ MORE: Flynn's post-match verdict

County’s work ethic has underpinned their quality on the ball at the start of the season and they were made to keep plugging away for what will turn out to be one of their hardest successes of 2020/21.

South Wales Argus: FRUSTRATED: Josh Sheehan laments a missed opportunityFRUSTRATED: Josh Sheehan laments a missed opportunity


County have played some terrific football in the opening months of the season and scored a beautiful opener against Harrogate.

Joss Labadie’s pass to Liam Shephard was perfect, the low cross was perfect and Amond timed his run delightfully to finish coolly.

“That was a fantastic team goal. It was crisp passing, a great split-ball, good cross from ‘Sheppy’, ‘Podge’ on the move,” said Flynn.

“It was perfect and I was delighted with it. I’m just disappointed that we didn’t do that enough.”

Perhaps the way that the Exiles have performed in previous games led to them getting a little frustrated.

As Flynn pointed out afterwards, they looked for the killer ball too quickly rather than building the pressure by shifting the ball rapidly.

That could well be down to the confidence gained from victories and it’s down to the older heads to encourage the team to take a deep breath and be patient.

South Wales Argus: LIVELY: Robbie Willmott made an impact as a subLIVELY: Robbie Willmott made an impact as a sub


The subs made their mark for County and it was Robbie Willmott that stood out with his energy down the right.

The 30-year-old won the corner that led to Amond’s winner against Colchester and played his part in building the pressure ahead of Cooper’s clincher on Saturday.

He was full of running (admittedly against a side sitting back due to their numerical disadvantage) and picked up the baton from Liam Shephard, who has been magnificent down the right so far this season.

Willmott is a great squad man for Flynn, who praised his performances when sitting deep in midfield at the start of the campaign.

With the games coming thick and fast, the dependable utility man will be valuable whether as a starter or sub.