NEWPORT County AFC staged a second-half comeback to stun 10-man Sutton United 3-2 thanks to captain Matty Dolan’s penalty in added time at Rodney Parade.

James Rowberry turned 37 at the weekend but this management lark will age him; statistically it should have been a comfortable win yet, as Michael Flynn often pointed out, County never do things the easy way.

County trailed 2-0 at half-time despite having the majority of the play and chances, paying the price for sloppy defending against a dangerous winger.

David Ajiboye scored solo strikes after 23 and 41 minutes either side of a red card for Sutton captain Craig Eastmond for a reckless tackle on Robbie Willmott.

Lewis Collins got County back into it with a stunning strike from distance early in the second half then Courtney Baker-Richardson levelled with a scruffy strike with half an hour to go.

It looked like the Exiles would have to settle for a third draw on the spin but then they were awarded a penalty in time added on and Dolan kept his cool to earn three precious points in their League Two promotion bid.

South Wales Argus: COOL: Matty Dolan sweeps home the penaltyCOOL: Matty Dolan sweeps home the penalty

Rowberry made two changes to the starting line-up at Colchester with captain Matty Dolan coming in for Scot Bennett at the heart of the defence while Collins got the nod up front in the absence of Dom Telford.

How County would cope without the in-form striker, top scorer in the league, was the question and it was the 20-year-old academy product that got the chance to shine.

Collins’ energy was a feature of last season’s run-in but providing more of a cutting edge was his biggest work-on.

County knew that they would need that against Sutton, who have made a superb start to life in the Football League.

The visitors headed to Rodney Parade in sixth and in the knowledge that an away win could take them into the automatic promotion spots.

Sutton have thrived with a rigid, well-drilled 4-4-2 while the fluid Exiles started in their 3-5-2 and were straight on the front foot with three corners and two long throw chances inside four minutes.

They should have hit the front in the sixth minute when Finn Azaz played the ball through on the decks and Collins raced clear but narrowly fired over with his left when he should have hit the target.

The Exiles were working their way into promising positions with lively loanees Azaz and Ollie Cooper causing Sutton all manner of problems.

Azaz fired into the side-netting after 10 minutes and remaining patient was key, both for those on the pitch and in the stands.

The Aston Villa prospect was at the heart of the action but failed to take a half chance after 17 minutes when a move that started from playing out ended with Collins fizzing a dangerous cross in that the midfielder couldn’t control at the far post.

County failed to take their chances then Sutton hit them with a superb solo goal by Ajiboye in the 24th minute, the winger jinking through and then calmly finishing past Joe Day. It was a beautifully-taken goal and would have earned grudging respect from many of an amber persuasion.

Sutton were ruthless while the Exiles continued to be profligate with Azaz and Haynes wasting half-chances for an immediate response.

Yet they got their chance to heap the pressure on after 33 minutes when the visitors were reduced to 10 men.

Azaz lost the ball on the edge of the box, it fell into no-man’s land and Robbie Willmott got their first before being clobbered by Eastmond. The wild challenge led to Oliver Langford showing red rather than yellow.

The scene was set for 11-man County to knock on the door against visitors who were happy to defend what they had… yet they soon had a 2-0 advantage.

Once again it was Ajiboye and while the attacking play was superb, the defending was shocking with the winger getting first to a long ball before – after a shout of “take him on!” from the visitors’ dugout – beating Ryan Haynes with ease and curling a left-footed shot beyond Day.

The Exiles would have been warned about him before the game, got evidence of his talent for the first and then failed to stop him for the second. Who’d be a manager?

Aaron Lewis replaced Haynes at half-time and the task was to break down a Sutton side that were sitting deep with striker Omar Bugiel as a makeshift defender.

South Wales Argus: STUNNING: Lewis Collins fires homeSTUNNING: Lewis Collins fires home

They got the lifeline they needed after 52 minutes when Collins cut in from the left and curled a wonderful shot in from distance.

It was comfortably the Wales U21 international’s best goal as a professional and the Exiles attempted to keep the pressure on by bringing on young Liverpool midfielder Jake Cain for defender James Clarke.

It was one-way traffic and level-pegging after 63 minutes courtesy of a mishit by Baker-Richardson that looped in after the ball fell to the striker from a Lewis shot.

Sutton, who had an FA Cup tie at Bristol Rovers on Saturday while County rested, were left to kill the clock in a battling bid for a point.

They did a good job of that to frustrate the hosts as the clock moved into the 80s with a half-chance with five minute to go when Cain’s shot was well held in slippery conditions by Dean Bouzanis.

Baker-Richardson was replaced by Alex Fisher as the Exiles looked to turn one point into three but there was disappointment when the board was held up to signal only four minutes of added time.

It was enough – Cain was wrestled to the ground in the box and Dolan sent Bouzanis the wrong way.

County: Day, Clarke (Cain 56), Dolan (captain), Demetriou, Norman, Haynes (Lewis HT), Willmott, Azaz, Cooper, Collins, Baker-Richardson (Fisher 86).
Subs not used: Townsend, Bennett, Upson, Ellison.
Goals: Collins, Baker-Richardson, Dolan (penalty)

Sutton: Bouzanis, Barden, Whyatt, Goodliffe, Ajiboye, Davies, Bugiel, Randall, Eastmond (captain), Milsom, Wilson.
Subs: Chalupniczam, Dundas, Sho-Silva, Korboa, Boldewijn, Bennett.
Yellow: Barden
Red: Eastmond
Goals: Ajiboye (2)

Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 3,068 (90 away)