NEWPORT County AFC have pledged to ensure Rodney Parade is a place teams hate to come despite their bid for promotion faltering.

The Exiles are enduring a torrid time in League Two with a run of just eight points from a possible 33 yet remain in the mix to go up, although they need to find a way to halt the slump after winning just once since December 8.

They blew a chance to beat a promotion rival on Tuesday night when failing to beat Exeter City, who had Alex Hartridge sent off after eight minutes yet still took the lead before goalscorer Ryan Bowman was dismissed on the stroke of half-time.

It took an 88th minute header by January signing Dom Telford to save County’s blushes and leave them fifth in the table, three points off the automatic promotion spots.

Assistant coach Wayne Hatswell has issued a rallying cry ahead of a hectic run-in that continues with the visit of second-placed Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.

Only Carlisle have a better home record than the Exiles and they hope to keep making life uncomfortable for opponents, albeit in a different way because of the tricky Rodney Parade pitch.

South Wales Argus: FRUSTRATION: Josh Sheehan is disappointed at the final whistleFRUSTRATION: Josh Sheehan is disappointed at the final whistle

“Nobody is running away with the league, you can see how tough and tight it is,” said Hatswell while doing the post-match media duties instead of frustrated manager Michael Flynn.

“Everyone will be playing Saturday, Tuesday now. Everyone hates coming to Newport and that won’t change.

“They know that when they come to Newport they are going to be in for a tough game. That’s all we try to do.

“We tried to adapt with the football that we played at the beginning of the season and we are adapting again.

“We played some really good football and murdered teams at times. Now it’s more of a leveller because of the pitch. We've got a good group and we just need that little bit of lady luck.”

County totted up 16 corners against the Grecians and frequently found themselves in the wide channels only to be let down by their delivery.

They failed to put Exeter under serious pressure and it wasn’t a case of last-ditch blocks and miraculous saves despite Newport’s shot count of 31 (eight on target).

“There was a lack of quality,” admitted Hatswell. “The effort was there but it’s become increasingly difficult to get a bit of quality and so tough to score on that pitch.

“It has been tough to break teams down. We tried to play good football at the start of the season, but since December we’ve had to adapt how we play.

“We didn’t get beaten, so that’s a positive, and there are still 19 games to go with 10 at home. It’s a kick, but we’ve had worse.

“We’ve had to change everything and it’s mentally draining for the players to keep going through the mud.

“I wouldn’t say things are going wrong and we’re going to keep fighting because we are Newport County.”