NEWPORT County AFC suffered added-time woe as Colchester United gave their League Two survival hopes a massive boost with a 2-1 win in Essex.

The Exiles looked set for a share of the spoils when it was level after 90 but Jay Mingi slammed home in the third of seven additional minutes.

In truth, it was what the U’s deserved after they had the better of the chances on a tricky pitch at Jobserve Community Stadium.

County were sluggish in the first half and had their bar struck by a thumping Alistair Smith drive yet they took the lead in the 42nd minute thanks to a calm lob by striker Offrande Zanzala after a defensive mix-up.

Nick Townsend, who had bravely blocked in the first half, pulled off a pair of terrific saves to preserve the lead past the hour.

However, the U’s were deservedly back on level terms in the 75th minute when Ellis Iandolo scored from a corner.

Colchester stayed on the front foot and got their win when Mingi played a one-two, outpaced substitute James Waite and gave Townsend no chance.

It means the Exiles remain two points shy of manager Graham Coughlan’s target of 57 to match last season’s tally.

They are also running out of games in their unlikely play-off bid, with the gap to now seventh-placed Gillingham five points.

Only victory against Crawley on Bank Holiday Monday will keep the dream alive but County are flagging.

Colchester, meanwhile, took a big step towards Football League survival when it looked like they were going to have to be content for a ninth draw in 12 games under new boss Danny Cowley.

South Wales Argus: CHALLENGE: Offrande Zanzala looks to protect the ball for CountyCHALLENGE: Offrande Zanzala looks to protect the ball for County (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Townsend was fit to start after coming off at Barrow with a groin strain while defender Matt Baker got the green light after returning from Wales Under-21s duty.

He replaced Harrison Bright on the right of the central three while Matty Bondswell came in for the absent Adam Lewis at left wing-back.

The rotation continued alongside top scorer Will Evans up front with Zanzala preferred to Seb Palmer-Houlden as the starter.

It was a cagey start with neither side making the most of set-piece opportunities and the first effort of note was in the 16th minute, and that was a very ambitious effort from long range by Brad Ihionvien that was never in danger of troubling Townsend.

That was followed by another hopeful home effort from well outside the box by Arthur Read and he failed to find the accuracy to match his fast feet to find space.

County were pinned inside their box and failing to hold onto the ball yet Colchester could turn that territorial and possession dominance into serious chances.

That changed in the 24th minute when a superb run down the right by Harry Anderson was followed by a thunderous strike from the edge of the area by Smith that came back off the bar and Ihionvien was unable to nod the rebound on target after it came at him quickly.

In the 28th minute Colchester went close again after County gave the ball away and the hosts countered, Ihionvien crossing from the left only for Townsend to bravely get out to block the shot from striker John Akinde 10 yards out.

It was an extremely poor half hour from the Exiles with and without the ball; too many duels were being lost.

The pattern continued as half-time approached with the strugglers looking the sharper and searching for the opener, yet it came from the Exiles against the run of play in the 42nd minute thanks to a defensive clanger.

South Wales Argus: DELIGHT: County celebrate Offrande Zanzala's openerDELIGHT: County celebrate Offrande Zanzala's opener (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Baker put a ball down the right channel, goalkeeper Owen Goodman and Connor Hall failed to communicated with the latter’s header falling to Zanzala, who coolly lobbed into the net with his right foot from just inside the area.

There was a half-chance for 2-0 on the stroke of half-time when Harry Charsley crossed from the right but Aaron Wildig couldn’t guide a header on target.

County had their noses in front but were sure to face a response from a Colchester side fighting for their Football League lives.

Anderson went down inside the box a minute after the restart under pressure from Kyle Jameson but it would have been extremely soft, and referee Sunny Sukhvir Gill wasn’t interested.

A mis-read by Scot Bennett led to a Colchester counter in the 52nd minute but they failed to find a killer ball in the final third, then Anderson blazed wide under pressure.

County made it to the hour with their lead intact against a U’s side whose delivery was letting them down in the final third.

However, they got it right after 65 minutes with Anderson’s cross finding Akinde at the far post and his powerful shot was superbly tipped over by Townsend.

That was swiftly followed by another cracker, the ‘keeper getting down low to his left to tip Smith’s effort around his near post.

County freshened up their side with midfielder James Waite and Palmer-Houlden then were forced into a change when Bondswell limped off, Harrison Bright coming on and Lewis Payne shifting to the left.

The Exiles were trying to hang on but it was level-pegging after 75 minutes when a corner was swung in from the left and Ellis Iandolo escaped Bryn Morris to score from close range.

It was Colchester’s turn to be indebted to their goalkeeper in the 79th minute when Palmer-Houlden battled in the box, rolled his defender but was denied by Goodman.

Townsend was absolutely clattered by Samson Tovide in the 84th minute – the ball was there but the forward was reckless and forceful – before a big chance for the hosts with three to go.

The ball fell to Noah Chilvers and he beat the in-form stopper but not the covering Baker, although the shot looked to be going wide.

County were trying to run the clock down but the hosts got a lift with seven minutes of added time, then struck through Mingi.

The Exiles couldn’t respond and don’t have long to lick their wounds with Crawley coming to Rodney Parade on Monday.

Colchester scorers: Iandolo, Mingi.

County: Townsend, Payne, Baker, Bennett (captain), Jameson, Bondswell (Bright 72), Morris, Wildig, Charsley, Wildig (Waite 67), Zanzala (Palmer-Houlden 67), Evans.
Substitutes not used: Maxted, Sanca, Rai, Jephcott.
Goals: Zanzala.
Yellow: Payne, Waite.

Referee: Sunny Sukhvir Gill.
Attendance: 4,308 (237 County).