POACHER Nicky Maynard helped 10-man Newport County AFC stop the rot with a precious, hard-earned win against Grimsby Town at Rodney Parade.

The deadline day signing struck the only goal of the game, coolly slotting early in the second half to end an eight-game League Two winless streak that stretched back to the December 8 triumph against the Mariners.

It was a hard-earned three points and 13 County players that took to the field are owed a beer by Scot Bennett after a moment of madness in the first half.

READ MORE: Flynn's post-match reaction

The Exiles were given a fourth red in five games when the midfielder was sent off for a late, over-the-top challenge on Stefan Payne.

Forget whether it was a ‘soft’ dismissal, County are not learning. Bennett went off his feet when there was no need to, hitting the Mariners forward forcefully when there was no danger on halfway.

South Wales Argus:

The most debatable decision-making didn’t come from referee Craig Hicks, it was from the 30-year-old Cornishman for making such a tackle in the context of recent weeks.

He followed Josh Sheehan, Joss Labadie and Liam Shephard in being dismissed – all four are seasoned campaigners who should know better.

County were second best when it was 11 versus 11 with struggling Grimsby playing the awful Rodney Parade pitch better.

Nick Townsend wasn’t exactly overworked in the home goal but Jake Eastwood had nothing to do at the other end.

They went into half-time 0-0 and improved dramatically after the resumption, playing with more energy and positional discipline.

Of course, they were aided by having something to hang onto courtesy of Maynard being in the right place at the right time, then showing the quality to fire home after controlling Matty Dolan's shot.

The Parade pitch is not one to be chasing the game on and disciplined, organised County held onto their lead without a real scare.

It is a win that reignites their push for promotion after an awful run. Now they must back it up at home to Southend and on their travels to Port Vale.

South Wales Argus:

Manager Michael Flynn made four changes to the starting line-up that had lost at Harrogate, one enforced with Ashley Baker in for the suspended Liam Shephard at right wing-back.

Josh Sheehan came straight back from his three-match ban to captain the side from midfield while the strike partnership that fired Bury to promotion in 2019 was resumed.

Maynard made his debut after his deadline day arrival and Dom Telford got a first start after coming off the bench in Yorkshire.

County had hit the front in six of their eight games without success yet it was Grimsby that made the sharper start.

The Mariners caused problems with long balls with Stefan Payne denied by Nick Townsend coming off his line to punch before a peach of a pass by Rollin Menayese, from Newport, was wonderfully controlled down the right by Joe Adams with his cross needing to be dealt with by David Longe-King.

Grimsby were well on top and coping with the conditions much better thanks to their better accuracy when going direct.

It took a smart stop at his near post by Townsend, who had sparked the attack with a poor clearance, to deny Payne after 29 minutes.

The Mariners were on top and then were given a numerical advantage when Bennett was dismissed after 37 minutes.

County made it through to the break level on the scoreboard and switched it around for the second half, Dolan moving into a sitting midfield role and Priestley Farquharson on for Baker to provide a more physical presence down the right.

They started the half impressively and got their noses in front when Maynard finished coolly after Dolan had fired in a shot from a headed clearance of a long throw.

Grimsby were furious that offside wasn’t given but their protests came to nothing and the Exiles had something to hang onto.

They played with discipline and concentration to frustrate the Mariners with the defence looking much steadier as a flat four.

County were counting the clock down with Flynn adding fresh legs after 72 minutes by replacing Maynard with Padraig Amond and bringing on Aaron Lewis for Luke Gambin.

A cross caused mayhem in the box after 83 minutes but the Exiles scrambled clear and were able to return to their 4-4-1 shape, challenging the Mariners to break them down.

It was in fact County that had the best chance in the 89th minute when Scrimshaw, who had come on for Telford, stole possession through his hard work but failed to beat Eastwood when one-on-one.

Thankfully the youngster didn’t pay the price and County climb to fourth.

County: Townsend, Longe-King, Dolan, Demetriou, Baker (Farquharson 45), Haynes, Bennett, Sheehan (captain), Gambin (Lewis 72), Maynard (Amond 72), Telford (Scrimshaw 59).
Substitutes: King, Hartigan, Taylor.
Goal: Maynard
Red card: Bennett

Grimsby: Eastwood, Bunney, Waterfall (captain), Hanson, Clifton, Matete, Hewitt, Menayese, El Mizouni, Payne, Adams.
Substitutes: McKeown, Hendrie, Spokes, John -Lewis, Pollock, Habergham, Lamy.

Referee: Craig Hicks