HISTORY repeated for Newport County AFC after they suffered a second-half turnaround to lose 2-1 at Barrow AFC.

The Exiles looked in good shape to record successive League Two wins for the first time this season when Aston Villa loanee Finn Azaz earned them a 1-0 lead at the break.

However, the Cumbrians bossed the second half and got the win that they deserved thanks to strikes from outside the box by Josh Kay and Josh Gordon.

Just like last season, Michael Flynn’s men lost 2-1 at Holker Street after being in a strong position; that their star man was goalkeeper Nick Townsend tells the story.

County started sharply but lost their way and were left to lament a wasted opportunity to make it 2-0 early in the second half when striker Courtney Baker-Richardson failed from a one-on-one.

The long coach journey back to south Wales would have felt even longer due to the frustration of the performance, which was nowhere near the standard of last weekend’s effort in victory against Walsall, and the result.

Once again, hot and cold County are looking for a reaction when they entertain strugglers Scunthorpe at Rodney Parade next weekend.

The hope, the need, is for consistency as the season progresses after a summer of change.

South Wales Argus: OPENER: Finn Azaz strikes for CountyOPENER: Finn Azaz strikes for County

Flynn made four changes to the side that beat Walsall with recalls for left-back Ryan Haynes and midfielders Azaz and Robbie Willmott while Baker-Richardson got a first start up front against the team he left in the summer.

Ollie Cooper was the only one of the ‘dropped’ quartet to feature on the bench, hinting at injury or unavailability rather than choice, especially in the case of stalwart Mickey Demetriou.

Goalkeeper Joe Day returned from a thigh injury but had to be content with backing up Nick Townsend.

As ever with County, the team selection came an hour before kick-off and there was then a wait to discover what formation they were starting in.

It was 3-5-2 but there was something of a surprise to see Aaron Lewis staying down the left with Haynes taking Demetriou’s spot as a central defender.

Azaz and Willmott joined influential Ed Upson in midfield while the lively Baker-Richardson partnered targetman Alex Fisher.

County started superbly and applied pressure through corners before hitting the front in the 10th minute, with the hosts shooting themselves in the foot.

Barrow goalkeeper Paul Farman tried to play out from the back but gifted the ball to County and Fisher played in Azaz down the left.

The angle was tight but the Aston Villa loanee fired in a shot that went through the legs of the home stopper.

The Exiles knew that they second goal would be vital after being pegged back by Walsall despite being dominant in the first half.

They kept on the front foot and were getting bodies into the box but didn’t really stress Farman with a number of shooting opportunities from distance.

Barrow had a spell of pressure approaching the half hour – with the Exiles being guilty of playing themselves into trouble – but the visitors held their lead.

The Cumbrians created half-chances for Jordan Stevens, from a well-worked corner, and Josh Gordon but failed to work Townsend.

The ‘keeper’s first real activity came in the 37th minute when Josh Kay drove from distance but County’s number 1 got down well to his right and held onto the ball.

It was Farman’s turn to save smartly just before the break when he kept Baker-Richardson’s volley out from Willmott’s corner, then Townsend ensured the visitors headed to their changing room 1-0 up when he flung himself to his right to keep out a powerful drive by Robbie Gotts.

The Exiles led by the same scoreline last season but imploded after the break to lose 2-1, a point that the coaching team no doubt made to their players.

County should have been 2-0 up after 50 minutes after Willmott won possession and then played in Baker-Richardson but his shot was blocked by Farman.

After looking a little leggy in that effort, and yet to reach full match fitness after a pre-season quad injury, it was his last action with Jermaine Hylton brought on.

South Wales Argus: LEVEL: Josh Kay celebrates his levellerLEVEL: Josh Kay celebrates his leveller

Townsend made another smart stop from Kay and Barrow kept the pressure on and an equaliser looked inevitable.

It came in the 63rd minute when Kay slammed in after good work by Stevens – the Exiles needed to dig deep.

Townsend kept them on level terms with a pair of smart stops and Flynn tried to change the record by introducing Priestley Farquharson and Timmy Abraham, Dolan and Azaz the men to go off.

That meant a return to a flat four to try and have a solid end to the game, the same change as was made in Harrogate.

However, they trailed with 12 minutes to go when Upson gave away possession and Gordon curled in a beautiful shot from outside the box, giving Townsend no chance.

County needed a rapid response but failed to mount a serious challenge and could have no complaints about the result.

Barrow: Farman, Ellis, Grayson, Banks, Brough, Gotts, Hutton, Stevens, Zanzala, Kay, Gordon.
Substitutes: White, Jones, Lillis, Williams, Arthur, Sea.
Goals: Kay, Gordon.

County: Townsend, Norman, Dolan (captain, Farquharson 69), Clarke, Lewis, Haynes, Upson, Azaz (Abraham 69), Willmott, Fisher, Baker-Richardson (Hylton 52).
Substitutes: Day, Missilou, Cooper, Ellison.
Yellow: Farquharson
Goal: Azaz.

Referee: Bobby Madley
Attendance: 2,427 (91 away)