LEAGUE Two leaders Newport County AFC saw their five-match winning streak come to an end in Cumbria following a largely lacklustre display at Brunton Park.

Carlisle took a 1-0 lead into the break before in-form Jon Mellish grabbed a second-half brace to put the hosts well and truly in command.

Jamie Devitt and Josh Sheehan gave the visitors hope late on, but Carlisle held on for a deserved victory.

County headed north knowing that whatever the result they would still head the standings at the final whistle.

They were without wing-back Liam Shephard following the 2-1 defeat of Harrogate Town on Saturday, while Scott Twine dropped to the bench.

Robbie Willmott and Matty Dolan came into the starting XI and Wales U21 defender Aaron Lewis took his place among the substitutes.

It was a largely scrappy opening with the hosts looking to press high up the pitch and force County into making a mistake.

And that pressure nearly paid off on nine minutes when Scot Bennett under-hit a pass back to Nick Townsend, but the keeper got to the ball just before Lewis Alessandra.

Six minutes later and Carlisle took the lead from the penalty spot, although it looked a very harsh decision from the referee.

Ryan Haynes seemed to go shoulder to shoulder with Joshua Kayode as the two challenged for the ball in the County box.

But to the amazement of Haynes, and the rest of the Exiles players, the man in the middle felt the defender had fouled Kayode.

Alessandra slotted the spot-kick past Townsend.

The next 10 minutes was all about County skipper Joss Labadie – and the spell didn’t end well for the midfielder.

Labadie was booked, then he tested Paul Farman from distance, before the captain was forced off through injury (below).

South Wales Argus:

Devitt replaced Labadie and showed what he could do moments later with a superb turn and pass that almost put Tristan Abrahams through on goal.

However, Carlisle continued to apply pressure on the County back three and they went so close to doubling their lead.

Kayode slid the ball through to Gavin Reilly and he saw his low shot come back off the base of the post.

County were given another warning just before the break when Kayode linked up with Joe Riley and the latter’s 20-yard effort flew inches over the bar.

The first half ended with the visitors lucky not to be further behind.

For a side sitting top of the league and on a five-match winning streak it simply wasn’t good enough.

There was no creative spark, nothing for the front two to get on the end of, and hardly anything for the County faithful following the game at home to get excited about.

The second half began with Jamie Proctor replacing Abrahams, and the visitors immediately looked sharper in opposition territory.

They forced a string of corners which ultimately came to nothing but showed they had taken heed of the manager’s half-time team talk.

However, the home side struck a killer blow with just over 20 minutes left.

Mellish found himself in space on the edge of the County box and the former Gateshead man slammed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net past a helpless Townsend.

And with nine minutes to go that man Mellish did it again, firing past Townsend following a swift Carlisle break.

Kayode played a big part in setting up Mellish’s eighth strike of the season, as the Cumbrians put the game out of County’s reach.

But there was some late drama.

South Wales Argus:

It looked like Devitt’s first Exiles goal (above) in the 84th minute was merely a consolation, but when Josh Sheehan struck in injury time (below) an unlikely point for County seemed a possibility.

South Wales Argus:

They threatened to make it 3-3 in the dying stages, however, there was to be no last-gasp equaliser.

Carlisle: Farman, Tanner, Hayden, McDonald, Anderton (capt), Guy, Mellish, Riley (Furman 90+4), Reilly (Patrick 66), Alessandra, Kayode (Obiero 90). Subs not used: Hunt, Charters, Dewhurst, Malley.

County: Townsend, Cooper, Bennett, Demetriou, Willmott, Sheehan, Labadie (capt) (Devitt 28), Dolan, Haynes (Ellison 70), Amond, Abrahams (Proctor 46). Subs not used: King, Baker, Twine, Lewis.

Referee: Scott Oldham

Argus star man: Jon Mellish