MANAGER Graham Coughlan hailed Newport County AFC’s determined defensive effort after a 2-0 win at AFC Wimbledon to close to within striking distance of the play-offs.

The Exiles won at Plough Lane thanks to Bryn Morris’ ninth-minute cracker from distance and then Kyle Jameson’s composed finish from a free-kick 10 minutes after the restart.

County kept the Dons at arms’ length to claim a victory that lifted them to 11th, just two points off their seventh-placed hosts.

Newport are without defenders Ryan Delaney, James Clarke, Declan Drysdale, Josh Seberry and Shane McLoughlin.

However, they produced a team effort to record a ninth clean sheet of the league campaign and earn the praise of their boss.

“It's another three points to add to our total,” said Coughlan. “It was a really, really strong performance and we were very good, particularly in the first half.

“There were a lot of balls into our box that we had to defend and we got our head on things and cleared them.

“It was a typical League Two away day with a lot of questions being asked and our lads stood up. They defended magnificently – to keep a clean sheet here is a big ask and the lads were really good.”

County closed to within two points of the play-offs but Coughlan still won’t be tempted in to top-seven talk.

“It takes us two points off 57, which we have set a target for,” he said. “When we get to that we can maybe realign, reset and set a different target.

“At this moment in time we need to get to 57 and then pass what we got last season, which would be a remarkable achievement under the circumstances.

“It's been a really tough season and without a great fanbase, a great group of lads and tremendous staff we wouldn't be able to get to 55 points.

“Everybody has come out and backed us and helped us. Even when things don’t go well you can still hear the Amber Army cheering us off the park and that is massive.”

Next up for County is the long trip to promotion-chasing Barrow next Saturday when they will be without centre-back Matt Baker because of Wales Under-21s duty.