NEWPORT County AFC’s promotion bid suffered a huge blow after being doubled by Leyton Orient in League Two.

The Exiles triumphed when the teams clashed in the FA Cup yet it was the Londoners that claimed all six points.

They won 2-1 at Brisbane Road in December and edged a 1-0 success at Cardiff City Stadium thanks to Conor Wilkinson’s goal on the hour.

It looked like County might be saved by an offside flag after sloppy defending had allowed him to slot from a driven cross at the far post.

However, referee Sam Barrott consulted with his linesman and correctly pointed to the centre spot to give Orient a lead that they never looked like losing.

County blamed their lack of creativity on a testing Rodney Parade surface but they could have no excuses on the perfect pitch in the capital.

They failed to stress Orient ‘keeper Lawrence Vigouroux and Michael Flynn’s desperate changes, bringing on four forward-thinking players, failed to change the record.

That came after a high-profile substitution had been made with Wales midfielder Joe Ledley coming on for his debut at the heart of defence in place on Matty Dolan, who suffered a calf strain.

The 34-year-old was playing in his first game since a spell with Newcastle Jets in Australia last summer but was unable to wake his new side from their slumber.

County should have been in front by the time he was introduced only to pay the price for the lack of a cutting edge; they had plenty of possession yet failed to carve Orient open.

It means that a week that started with great hope thanks to three wins against Colchester, Bradford and Morecambe has ended in despair after losses to two struggling teams in Port Vale and Orient.

Such is the County way; hopes of putting the heat on the top three have turned into fears of missing out on the play-offs.

They now need to lick their wounds during the international break before going again for a final burst of 10 games.

Flynn made two changes to freshen up his attack with Nicky Maynard fit after a sore neck to lead the line with Jake Scrimshaw, who scored at Port Vale after providing energy off the bench in the second half.

The international clearance came through from Australia overnight for Ledley to be among the substitutes.

County had not won back-to-back league games at home since October; Cardiff might not be home but they knew doubling up in the capital would be a huge boost to promotion hopes.

Orient kept the Exiles at arms-length in the opening exchanges, limiting them to pretty patterns well away from the final third.

The first chance of the game came after 14 minutes and it was through the hosts forcing Orient into a defensive error.

Maynard blocked a clearance that fell to Scrimshaw, who returned the ball to allow his strike partner to test Vigouroux at his near post from a tight angle.

County came even closer to opening the scoring in the 24th minute when Scrimshaw won a free-kick that Matty Dolan swung into the box.

It flicked off Orient defender Joe Widdowson’s head but crashed into the far post and out, with ex-County man Jamie Turley putting behind for a corner that was cleared.

The Exiles were bossing possession and starting to stretch the Londoners; they had to mix patience with urgency to break the deadlock before the break.

Referee Barrott was given a decision to make after 36 minutes when there was a coming together between Joss Labadie and Ouss Cisse, and it was yellow rather than red for the Orient midfielder.

The teams headed into the break goalless and County needed to have more threat in the final third, with Flynn having lots of forward-thinking options on the bench.

Orient opted to take Cisse off for the second half after his lucky escape and Labadie swiftly followed him into the book, although it looked from the stand as though he was the victim rather than perpetrator of the foul.

Conor Wilkinson tried his luck from distance for the visitors in the 53rd minute but Nick Townsend got across to save and then claim at the second attempt.

Flynn made his first changes on 56 minutes when Taylor replaced Scrimshaw to provide a more physical presence up top and Ledley slotted into the heart of defence for Dolan, with licence to roam into midfield.

Yet the Wales international was soon charged with chasing the game for the hosts after Wilkinson slotted at the far post.

County had half an hour to save themselves and Flynn turned to his bench with a triple substitution, bringing on Kevin Ellison, Luke Gambin and Dom Telford.

However, it was Orient that looked the more cohesive and threatening as the clock ticked towards the 90.

There was no dramatic finale with County getting what they deserved: nothing.

County: Townsend, Farquharson, Dolan (Ledley 56), Demetriou, Shephard, Lewis (Ellison 65), Sheehan, Bennett (Gambin 65), Labadie (captain), Scrimshaw (Taylor 56), Maynard (Telford 65).
Substitutes: King, Gambin, Ellison, Amond, Telford.
Yellow cards: Labadie, Ledley

Orient: Vigouroux, Widdowson, Cisse, Happe, McAnuff, Clay (captain), Wilkinson, Kemp, Akinola, Turley, Johnson.
Substitutes: Sargeant, Ling, Coulson, Dayton, Dennis, Sweeney, Kyprianou.
Yellow cards: Kemp, Cisse, McAnuff

Referee: Samuel Barrott