Kaiyne Woolery’s late match winner was enough to see Newport County AFC fall to sixth in the League Two table following a 2-1 defeat away at Swindon Town.
The Robins took the lead after just 61 seconds through an emphatic Michael Doughty half-volley back across goal, but the Exiles did respond well having gathered virtually no momentum in the first-half.
That was arguably because the windy conditions favoured the home side in the opening 45 minutes, but those conditions went the way of County after the restart and Padraig Amond equalised on 47 minutes.
Woolery became the match winner, however, as substitute Jermaine McGlashan came on for the Robins to make a difference, playing in Doughty who then found Woolery, and the striker rounded Joe Day with nine minutes remaining to secure a victory for the home side.
The result sees County drop two places but still two clear points within the play-offs, then three and eight points off the automatic promotion spots and top of the league respectively.
Mike Flynn elected to make seven changes to the side that was knocked out of the CheckaTrade Trophy on Tuesday night on penalties at Cheltenham Town.
That meant it was back to the line-up fielded from the off last weekend against Wrexham AFC in the Emirates FA Cup – with Joss Labadie and Scot Bennett able to make the bench having recovered from their respective injuries.
Swindon Town manager Richie Wellens made four changes to his starting side that was dumped out of the Emirates FA Cup by National League South outfit Woking last weekend.
They implemented a 4-5-1 system at the County Ground, with the starting side including ex-Exile Sid Nelson – and experienced midfielders James Dunne and player/coach Matty Taylor.
Despite trailing at the break, Newport County AFC were probably quite relieved that the Robins were only one goal ahead after a first-half completely dominated by the home side.
You don’t like to look for excuses but the blistery and extremely windy conditions completely wrecked everything the Exiles were trying to do, and that was highlighted when Joe Day’s goal kicks were blowing back 25-yards every time.
The Exiles were also guilty of giving the ball away far too easy, Andrew Crofts in particular on four or five occasions, but the wind was again a factor in that department as well and the ball just wouldn’t go in the place where it was intended.
For the opening 25 minutes, everything came from the Robins and the goal came with their first attack – exactly 61 seconds on the clock.
James Dunne and Kyle Knoyle combined down the right-side to beneficial effect, the initial delivery looked a bit too heavy but talisman Michael Doughty brought it down and fired across goal through Fraser Franks and Joe Day.
The Exiles really should have equalised straightaway when they showed desire enough to bounce back, but after Josh Sheehan chested the ball into the area, he could only fire wide when the bottom corner looked unguarded by home goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux.
Tyreeq Bakinson sent a looping header into the relived palms of the Robins shot stopper shortly after – but from there everything fell to the Robins – such was the windy conditions in Wiltshire.
On 14 minutes, County once again had to rely on the heroics of Joe Day to stay in the contest. Ellis Iandolo carved his way through the midfield far too easily, feeding it in for Elijah Adebayo in-behind but Day blocked the angles and tipped it onto the post.
Strangely, a goal-kick was then awarded but Day definitely saved it – and he had to do something similar to prevent an attempt from striker Scott Twine.
The goal scorer Doughty then chipped over the crossbar with an audacious 25-yard attempt, before Matty Taylor charged down the play and only narrowly missed the far corner from all of 40 yards.
Something had to give as County just couldn’t get any sort of foothold on proceedings, unfortunately for David Pipe he was hauled off on 25 minutes so that the Exiles could change formation and Antoine Semenyo came on.
That meant the Exiles switched to a 4-3-3 formation but still the wind caused havoc with anything they were trying to put together, with Kaiyne Woolery and Twine both curling over for the home side.
County mustered their first shot on target after 43 minutes of football when finally able to string some passes together – Bakinson getting the shot away but Vigouroux got down well.
An injury to captain Andrew Crofts meant County had to make a second change before the break, Scot Bennett this time taking to the field, and three minutes of additional time was indicated.
Still Swindon kept coming and two attempts from Adebayo then Taylor brought about an end to first-half proceedings.
Momentum is always something talked about in football, Swindon certainly had that and some in the opening 45 minutes, but they could only get the one goal when attacking with the wind.
It was obvious that more things would start to come off for the Exiles in the second-half and that was highlighted when they found an equaliser two minutes after the restart.
You could tell it was just so much easier to string passes together when the wind was on their side, Semenyo and Bakinson playing some neat passes to each other before the latter pumped the ball into the area and Amond powered a header past a helpless Vigouroux.
That started a nice period of possession for County even if they couldn’t muster too many more shots on target, with it certainly the old cliché of a game of two halves.
If anything, County were their own worst enemy when trying to search for a winner as they pushed players forward and Bennett had to rescue the Exiles with a covering run and challenge after Swindon ran clear from a County corner-kick.
After a 20-minute cameo against Cheltenham in midweek, Joss Labadie was this time given 23 minutes off the substitutes bench – making his first League Two appearance since March.
Almost instantaneously he could see the headlines of a potential match winner, but the effort from 50 yards just kept rising and Vigouroux didn’t even bother to move.
The ascendency started to change again with 15 minutes to go after the introduction of Jermaine McGlashan and he was instrumental in the Robins retaking the lead with nine minutes to go.
His run on the left split the County defence apart, Doughty filled in the gap and when his pass found Woolery in the area, the striker composed himself to take it round Day and fire past Franks who had tracked back and almost cleared off the goal line.
For the second time of the afternoon, Swindon again seemed to have a lapse in concentration following their goal, but the Exiles again couldn’t capitalise – Bakinson passing the ball wide of the far post when found in acres of space within the area.
Swindon’s intentions then became clear – on came usual captain Olly Lancashire for the goal scorer Woolery, a centre-back on for an attacker.
That was ultimately proven to be a wise decision by Robins manager Richie Wellens, County pumping the ball into the area on several occassions during the four minutes of additional time - Swindon holding on to secure their third successive league victory.
Newport County AFC (3-5-2): Day, Pipe (Semenyo 26’), Franks, O’Brien (Labadie 69’), Demetriou, Butler, Bakinson, Crofts (C) (Bennett 44’), Sheehan, Amond, Matt
Subs not used: Townsend, Harris, Pring, Forbes
Swindon Town (4-5-1): Vigouroux, Knoyle, Nelson, Woolfenden, Iandolo, Dunne, Taylor (C), Doughty, Woolery (Lancashire 89’), Adebayo, Twine (McGlashan 73’)
Subs not used: McCormick, McCourt, Alzate, Smith, Pryce
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Next up for County: Wrexham AFC (11th December 2018) HOME – Emirates FA Cup