NEWPORT County AFC’s losing streak will carry into next season after they finished the League Two campaign with a 4-1 loss at Bradford City.

The Bantams, whose slim play-off hopes were dashed by Crawley beating Grimsby, became the eighth straight side to beat the Exiles.

Graham Coughlan’s side produced their best display for weeks in the first half only to concede twice just before the whistle.

First former County loanee Calum Kavanagh powered in a header in the 44th minute and then Andy Cook nodded in a free-kick in added time.

Bobby Pointon smashed in a cracker from the edge of the area to make it 3-0 after 56 minutes.

Harry Charsley slotted from close range for County in the 65th but they were unable to make it a nervy finish and the final say went to Bradford’s Jamie Walker with almost the last kick.

The Exiles could have been contenders for the top seven were it not for a second injury crisis of a draining 57-game campaign.

Instead, they finished 18th in the table after equalling the eight-game losing streak suffered under Graham Westley in January of the Great Escape season of 2016/17.

That means that the new-look squad will kick off next season with the aim of avoiding a ninth loss to match the streak suffered when dropping out of the Football League in 1988.

South Wales Argus: BUMP: County striker Seb Palmer-Houlden is knocked over at BradfordBUMP: County striker Seb Palmer-Houlden is knocked over at Bradford (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Top scorer Will Evans returned to being a makeshift left wing-back while Charsley came into midfield and Bristol City loanee Seb Palmer-Houlden had a farewell outing up front.

Omar Bogle, who limped off against Salford, and fellow striker Offrande Zanzala did not feature for what, with contracts expiring, could have been final appearance for the club.

There was a double boost on the bench with influential defender/midfielder Shane McLoughlin available for the first time since suffering a calf injury in Milton Keynes in February while midfielder Aaron Wildig also returned after missing the last four defeats.

The first chance came in the fourth minute when dangerman Cook turned sharply on the edge of the box but goalkeeper Nick Townsend was off his line quickly to smother the ball.

The hosts failed to build on that and it was a solid start by County that could, perhaps should, have turned into an excellent one after 15 minutes.

Harrison Bright, Luke Jephcott and Charsley combined to put Palmer-Houlden in on goal but he failed to hit the target with a left-footed shot under pressure from the scrambling defence.

The young forward then wasted another chance when dragging a shot across the face of goal when the ball fell kindly in the box off Jephcott.

The home crowd was restless but were given something to cheer when Jamie Walker jinked into the box – past a dangerously dangled leg by Kyle Jameson – and fired a cross/shot wide.

Townsend got away with having a clearance charged down and then Kavanagh, who spent the second half of last season in Newport, had a shot blocked approaching the half hour as the Bantams started to build some pressure.

The score at Crawley meant that their chances of the play-offs were getting slimmer and County were making life hard for them with their most balanced display for weeks.

Another opening was wasted by the visitors when Charsley stole possession in midfield, drove forward but shot weakly for Sam Walker to make a routine save.

However, the half finished disastrously for the Exiles and they trailed 2-0 at the break.

First Kavanagh powerfully met a peach of a cross from the right by Brad Halliday in the 44th minute and then in added time Cook outmuscled the defence to nod in a free-kick from Richie Smallwood from near the left corner flag.

Two soft goals cost County dear and then they fell 3-0 behind in the 56th minute when Pointon gave Townsend no chance with a left-footed shot into the top right corner from the D after a corner.

Thankfully the Exiles did get off 0 in the 65th minute when an Evans cross fell to Charsley via Palmer-Houlden and the midfielder slotted under Sam Walker from close range.

Townsend had to make a sharp save from a Matty Platt header to prevent Bradford restoring the three-goal advantage, Daniel Oyegoke wastefully firing the rebound wide, and there was still a chance of a nervy finish with Evans back up front.

Ciaran Kelly should have killed the game off with 10 minutes to go but headed wide from a corner, then Palmer-Houlden drove a shot a couple of yards over after cutting in from the left.

Bradford forward Tyler Smith wastefully dragged a shot wide after bursting into the box but the fourth eventually came in the last of the added minutes when Walker slotted from Cook’s cross.

Bradford scorers: Kavanagh, Cook, Pointon, Walker.

County: Townsend, Bright (McLoughlin 80), Baker, Sanca, Jameson, Evans, Bennett (captain, Waite 65), Morris, Charsley (Wildig 80), Jephcott (Bondswell 65), Palmer-Houlden.
Substitutes not used: Maxted, Norris, Rai.
Yellow: Evans, 
Goal: Charsley.

Referee: Thomas Kirk.
Attendance: 18,485 (357 County).