NEWPORT County AFC gave chairman Les Scadding the perfect birthday present with a fine win over in-form Hartlepool United at Rodney Parade.

The lottery winner turned 63 before the match and what else do you get the man who has everything but three points?

The evening’s other VIP guest was Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling, here to support his hometown club.

But he wasn’t dancing in the streets of Newport afterwards as Hartlepool were well beaten.

The visitors were second best throughout, despite their impressive recent run of seven wins in nine games.

Justin Edinburgh’s men came through their biggest test so far at Rodney Parade with relative ease and are now up to fourth in the table.

That puts them firmly in the hunt for a play-off place and on target to fulfil Scadding’s pre-season prediction of a second successive promotion.

Edinburgh will preach patience and realism but he will find it hard to keep a lid on expectations if his side keep performing like this.

The Exiles boss made three changes to the side that had dismantled Portsmouth in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Lenny Pidgeley returned in goal, Ryan Jackson replaced David Pipe after the skipper’s red card and Adam Chapman returned from his suspension in place of Mike Flynn.

But the Exiles carried on where they’d left off against Pompey with another blistering display of attacking football, particularly in an exhilarating first 45 minutes.

Harry Worley gave the hosts the lead as early as the sixth minute as he rose above everyone in the box to head home Robbie Willmott’s corner.

And they could have had the game wrapped up before the break as Conor Washington ran the visiting defence ragged.

The rapid development of the young striker has been the most exciting aspect of County’s excellent start to life in League Two.

And he was on top form once again here, going close twice within a minute midway through the first half and generally not giving the Pools defenders a moment’s rest.

He could easily have had a penalty just before the break as he appeared to be brought down by Hartlepool captain Neil Austin in the box.

But referee Stephen Martin waved play on, as he had done earlier when a Danny Crow shot had hit the hand of Jack Baldwin.

The impressive Tom Naylor and Adam Chapman also went close to doubling County’s lead before half-time but Hartlepool, who created little, held on.

The hosts had to withstand a good spell of Pools pressure after the break as James Poole saw a fierce effort deflected wide and Luke James forced the first real save from Pidgeley.

The Exiles’ number one then pushed a Poole shot round the post. The corner was cleared and County broke with lightning speed to seal the win.

Washington and Christian Jolley combined brilliantly and the former postman stuck out a boot to deliver the killer blow with his seventh goal of the season and third of the week.

Hartlepool ‘keeper Scott Flinders was helpless to stop the ball crossing the line and with it went his side’s hopes of getting anything from the game.

A lot of sides have had that sinking feeling in Newport this season – seven out of nine so far – and on this evidence there’ll be plenty more heading back over the Severn Bridge with their tails between their legs.

County sent out a message to their promotion rivals that they mean business and Fortress Rodney Parade will play a big part over the next few months.

County: Pidgeley, Jackson (Jones, 78), Yakubu, Oshilaja, Worley, Willmott, Naylor, Chapman, Crow, Jolley (Flynn, 66), Washington

Subs not used: Stephens, James, Minshull, Redman

Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Dolan, Baldwin, Walton (Walker 87), Poole, Monkhouse, Compton (Sweeney, 81), Duckworth, James (Franks, 70), Burgess

Subs not used: Collins, Rafferty, Richards, Rodney

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 3,094

Argus star man: Conor Washington