NEWPORT County AFC moved back into the League Two play-off places with a plucky point at promotion rivals Plymouth Argyle this afternoon.

Neither side could find a breakthrough in a tight and tense encounter and County withstood a sustained period of pressure from the hosts in the second half to earn a precious point.

Jimmy Dack’s men are up to seventh as a result of Stevenage’s home defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge and Plymouth also climb a place despite feeling they should have won.

Dack stuck with the 5-3-2 formation that had earned his side a hard-fought 1-0 win over Luton Town in midweek.

But there were two changes with Mark Byrne and Miles Storey both returning to the starting XI after recovering from hamstring strains.

Out went Shaun Jeffers and Kevin Feely, who underwent surgery on his hand before the match.

That meant a reshuffle in defence with Andy Sandell moving inside to the left side of central defence and midfielder Yan Klukowski asked to fill in at left wing-back.

County started brightly, forcing three successive corners in the first five minutes, but failing to test Plymouth goalkeeper Luke McCormick.

Bobby Reid was the danger man for the hosts in midfield and he picked out striker Lewis Alessandra with a perfect ball that split the Exiles defence early on.

But the front man inexplicably attempted to cross the ball when he should have shot and found nobody on the end of his centre.

With both sides playing the same formation and being so close in the table it was a tight affair with few clear chances for either side in a keenly contested first half.

Towards the end of the half a deflected cross from Max Porter just about evaded Klukowski and Aaron O’Connor in the middle when any sort of touch would have put the ball beyond McCormick.

And O’Connor did poke the ball home in stoppage time but the referee spotted a foul and the stalemate remained.

A minority of the home fans vented their frustration at the break as they booed their team off with cries of ‘rubbish’ from the stands.

Lee Minshull was also the subject of the crowd’s ire for a few robust challenges and he was replaced by Adam Chapman for the second half.

Dack may have been protecting Minshull from the referee’s attention or just hoping that Chapman could add more of a cutting edge in attack.

But it was the hosts who came out firing after the interval with Joe Day at full stretch to keep out a curled effort from Tareiq Holmes-Dennis.

The home support then felt Reuben Reid should have been awarded a penalty after a physical tussle with County skipper Darren Jones.

The referee penalised the Argyle striker, however, leading to chants of ‘you’re not fit to referee’ from the Home Park faithful.

Bobby Reid then bamboozled Jones with a fabulous flick over his head and his well struck volley had Day worried but flashed just wide of the post.

Another neat move from the hosts saw Anthony O’Connor, Reuben Reid and Holmes-Dennis combine to set up Alessandra but the front man’s curler was always rising over Day’s cross bar.

And Day did superbly as he rushed out to save from Reuben Reid, just getting his foot to the shot and deflecting it the right side of the post from County’s point of view.

John Sheridan’s men were piling on the pressure and the Exiles were restricted to the odd breakaway.

Former Plymouth striker Chris Zebroski, introduced to a chorus of boos, made himself even more unpopular as he tumbled in the box claiming a penalty but the ref dismissed his appeals.

Zebroski was a real menace to his old club in the closing stages, showing good pace to out-sprint Carl McHugh before flashing an effort across McCormick’s goal and wide.

But, just like last season at Home Park, this was a game destined to end goalless despite a much improved second half showing from both sides.

Plymouth: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, McHugh, Hartley, Holmes-Dennis, Lee (Banton, 82), O’Connor (Blizzard, 82), B. Reid, Alessandra, R. Reid

Subs not used: Bittner, Purrington, Norburn, Harvey, Brunt

Booked: Homes-Dennis

County: Day, Jackson, Yakubu, Jones, Sandell, Klukowski, Porter, Minshull (Chapman, 46), Byrne, Storey (Zebroski, 62), O’Connor (Jeffers, 73)

Subs not used: Stephens, Parker, Tutonda, Parselle

Booked: Sandell, Yakubu

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 6,847 (521 County)

Argus star man: Joe Day