DOM Telford struck two more goals in his bid for the League Two golden boot to help Newport County AFC return to winning ways against Harrogate Town at Rodney Parade.

The Exiles ended a three-game streak without success with a comprehensive 4-0 victory and a strong performance to sit sixth in the table.

County hit the front in the eighth minute when captain Mickey Demetriou firmly scored from the penalty spot and Dom Telford doubled the advantage with a scruffy flick on the stroke of half-time.

That was the 17th of a remarkable campaign and number 18 followed soon after the restart, this time a clean strike.

Telford then turned provider for his striker partner Courtney Baker-Richardson in the 55th minute to absolutely secure three points.

The game drifted a little but the desire was for County to record a first clean sheet since October, something they achieved with Coventry loanee Josh Pask having an extremely accomplished debut.

County were without manager James Rowberry, who was watching on his laptop at home after testing positive for coronavirus.

He would have liked what he saw from the sofa, albeit Harrogate look a side lower on confidence that when they welcomed the Exiles to Yorkshire in September.

County made three changes to the XI that faced Salford with defender Pask making his debut alongside skipper Demetriou in a flat back four.

Ryan Haynes got the nod ahead of Aaron Lewis at left-back while Scot Bennett sat in front of the defence in place of the absent Robbie Willmott.

Both went on to have excellent games to justify their recalls.

James Waite was on the bench after the former Cardiff City attacking midfielder signed from Penybont on an 18-month contract.

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County started strongly against Salford but paid the price for not taking their chances but this time they hit the front early on.

A couple of counter-attack opportunities had gone begging when, after a driving run down the right by Ollie Cooper, Telford was brought down in the box in the seventh minute.

Josh Falkingham, who was sent off in this fixture last season, was booked and Demetriou added to his woe with a superb penalty low to the left.

Harrogate responded well without stressing Nick Townsend and it was the hosts that had the next big chance in the 27th minute.

Telford pickpocketed the defence and played in strike partner Baker-Richardson, who failed to hit the target from a tight angle down the right.

That was swiftly followed by Cooper looping a header against the outside of the right post from Jake Cain’s dinked cross.

A third chance in quick succession, and the best by a distance, went begging when Baker-Richardson failed to make the most of a one-on-one after good work in midfield by Cain and it was almost costly.

Harrogate thought they were back on level terms when George Thomson drove a shot at the top corner from just outside the box only for Townsend to full off a stunning save at full stretch to his right.

It looked like County would have to settle for a 1-0 lead at the break but they struck in the 44th minute when Haynes did well to play in Finn Azaz down the left and his cross was flicked in by Telford, a strike that was similar to the effort against Port Vale in December.

There was some doubt about whether it was an own goal by ‘keeper Mark Oxley but it went down as the striker’s 17th of the season.

He should have added an assist to kill the game before half-time but opted to shoot when Azaz was unmarked to his left; not hearing the shout was not a valid excuse at the near-empty Parade.

The roles were reversed soon after the restart and the Aston Villa loanee made the right choice, playing in Telford to fire left-footed past Oxley for 3-0.

That was the settler that County needed and they soon added another thanks to their striker partnership.

Baker-Richardson did well to steal the ball and was then played in by Telford before rounding the ‘keeper.

Ryan Fallowfield produced a superb last-ditch tackle to deny the striker as he was poised to slot into the empty net but the ball then fell kindly for him to make it 4-0.

It was the perfect scoreline to give Cooper a rest and give Waite the chance to show what he can do with the new boy introduced just before the hour.

The game then drifted before Hatswell opted to protect Telford rather than let him have a crack at another hat-trick, bringing on Lewis Collins after 81 minutes, then taking no risks with Bennett after he went down for treatment, Lewis his replacement.

Baker-Richardson was denied by a superb block in injury time before the defence celebrated a shutout at the final whistle after a professional job in the push for the play-offs.

County: Townsend, Norman, Pask, Demetriou (captain), Lewis, Bennett (Lewis 85), Cain, Azaz, Cooper (Waite 59), Telford (Collins 81), Baker-Richardson.
Substitutes: Day, Clarke, Abraham, Fisher.
Yellow: Cooper, Norman.
Goals: Demetriou (penalty), Telford (2), Baker-Richardson.

Harrogate: Oxley, Fallowfield, Page, Falkingham (captain), Thomson, Pattison, Muldoon, Legge, Diarra, McArdle, Armstrong.
Substitutes: Cracknell, Beck, Sheron, Kerry, Austerfield, Richards.
Yellow: Falkingham, Armstrong, Diarra.

Referee: Ollie Yates