NEWPORT County AFC stayed in the League Two play-off spots with a vital 2-0 win against Crawley at Rodney Parade on Tuesday.

A raft of chances were missed in the first half but Liam Shephard struck from distance soon after the restart and then, after Crawley’s Tom Nichols was sent off for an elbow at the death, Aaron Lewis fired home in the 100th minute.

READ MORE: The match report from Rodney Parade

County still need to find their killer streak but won by more than a goal for only the sixth time in 18 League Two successes.

Here are the talking points from the victory…


It was a huge win for County but was one that didn’t give them any more breathing space.

Exeter will go above them with victory when seventh plays eighth on Saturday, while Salford could also end the day ahead of them.

It's looking like Bolton or Morecambe for automatic promotion with the side edged out set for the play-offs along with Tranmere.

Then it looks like two from Forest Green, the Exiles, Exeter and Salford, with Carlisle and Bradford needing perfect finishes to be in with a shout.

County knocked Crawley out of contention (although not mathematically) and a win in Devon would be a huge blow to the Grecians.

However, the midweek success means that a point is a steady result and a loss is not terminal.

As Flynn said post-match, there are more twists and turns ahead.

South Wales Argus:


County suffered a January blow when their Swansea City prospect that played out from the back was recalled by the Championship club.

The loss of Brandon Cooper has been felt as badly as the departure of goal-scoring Scott Twine; the Exiles have remained pretty solid but have lacked his ability to add to the attacking effort.

Partly through necessity, Michael Flynn played wing-back Liam Shephard as a right-sided central defender against Cambridge, with Scot Bennett man-marking Wes Hoolahan in midfield.

Against Crawley it was back to the 3-5-2 with Shephard joining Bennett and rock-solid Mickey Demetriou.

It worked a treat with the Swansea academy graduate comfortable when asked to carry the ball, and getting his reward when shooting from distance for the opener (with the help of a deflection).

With Matty Dolan set to return against Exeter it gives Flynn a welcome headache – Bennett at the back or Shephard with the utility man further forward?

Adding to that conundrum is the form of Aaron Lewis down the right and the performance of another midfielder…

South Wales Argus: IMPRESSIVE Anthony Hartigan congratulates Aaron Lewis on his clincherIMPRESSIVE Anthony Hartigan congratulates Aaron Lewis on his clincher


Anthony Hartigan hasn’t made the impact that AFC Wimbledon, County or the man himself wanted since arriving on loan in January.

He failed to establish himself in the heart of the midfield and was no doubt impacted by the Rodney Parade pitch before its much-needed break.

It was a surprise to see the 21-year-old in the starting line-up against Crawley – his first start since the goalless draw with Stevenage in February – but it was a superb decision.

Hartigan grew into the game and showed a lovely range of passing and worked nicely with Josh Sheehan and Joss Labadie to get the balance right.

If he can keep hitting those standards then perhaps he will be a leading figure in the Exiles joining the Dons in League One.

South Wales Argus: ENTHUSIASTIC: Lewis Collins and Padraig Amond ran hardENTHUSIASTIC: Lewis Collins and Padraig Amond ran hard


With Ryan Taylor injured, County opted for the youthful exuberance of Lewis Collins next to the veteran exuberance of Padraig Amond.

The pair were superb from the off and could, perhaps, should have combined inside the first minute only for the teenager to pull a shot wide from the Irishman’s cutback.

‘Podge’ should have scored on the stroke of half-time only to hit the bar and it’s a shame because their efforts deserved a goal.

They ran tirelessly throughout against physical defenders and Nicky Maynard did well after his late introduction.

It's been terrific to see Collins get a run in the team of late, adding some much needed dynamism to the side.

The prospect will make mistakes but is showing oodles of enthusiasm and the odd flash of real talent.

Fingers crossed a County forward saved a goal up for St James Park.