Scot Bennett scored the only goal of the game as Newport County AFC toppled the League Two champions Lincoln City in a 1-0 victory at Rodney Parade.
Remarkably the Exiles remain 11th in the League Two table but are still just the two points way from the play-off positions with the game in hand against Oldham Athletic to come on Tuesday.
League Two’s form side know two wins from two are enough for the top seven.
Manager Michael Flynn made one change to the side which were held at strugglers Macclesfield Town on Easter Monday.
Ben Kennedy came in after an excellent cameo in Cheshire to replace Harry McKirdy, with County swapping to a more attacking 4-3-3 formation from the off at Rodney Parade.
Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley made two changes to his side which secured the League Two title with a goalless draw at home to Tranmere Rovers at Sincil Bank.
Josh Vickers – who signed a new contract in the week – came in goal for Matt Gilks, while Harry Anderson replaced influential winger Bruno Andrade in a 4-4-2 formation for the visitors.
It was always going to take something special to topple the League Two champions, but County seem to the find difficult tests quite simple – especially at home – and set about getting at their visitors right from the off.
Lincoln have only lost one league game in 2019 – a 1-0 reverse at Carlisle United on Good Friday – and they were trailing by that same scoreline to the Exiles after seven minutes.
County played the ball to beneficial effect down the left-side, Ben Kennedy fed in Padraig Amond who drilled the ball back towards the penalty area for Scot Bennett to finish in off the crossbar after the game’s first attack.
All the early running came from the Exiles and Lincoln couldn’t particularly get out of their own half, but clear-cut chances didn’t come too frequently after that but that suited the Exiles.
Vickers held an attempt from Mickey Demetriou quite comfortably on 20 minutes but that was it in terms of County chances up until half-time against a stubborn Lincoln defence.
An injury to Cian Bolger midway through the first-half halted proceedings somewhat and it was only when six additional minutes were indicated that the Imps came to life.
Harry Anderson curled wide then also failed to connect to a cutback across the face of goal from John Akinde, before Matt Rhead missed an absolute sitter from two yards with the last chance of the half when he miskicked a high ball into the area.
Extremely blustery conditions did affect proceedings somewhat and they continued into the second-half as well, but County seemed to react better and continued to press the champions.
Vickers was arguably at fault for both of County’s goals up at Sincil Bank back in December but you couldn’t fault his performance this time out as he stopped County extending the lead.
On 63 minutes, the whole stadium thought the Exiles had their second. Robbie Willmott’s free-kick went right the way through but Vickers somehow leaped back to tip it away from the far post.
The Imps shot stopper also thwarted attempts from Amond, Mickey Demetriou and Ben Kennedy as the Exiles kept coming at the Imps heading into the final ten minutes.
Surprisingly, you didn’t feel particularly concerned that the champions would stage any sort of comeback, but games can change in a second and the Imps came close with three minutes remaining.
Josh Sheehan dallied with the ball for far too long on the edge of the area which allowed Danny Rowe to nip in, he played it to substitute Shay McCartan who somehow contrived to miss form six yards.
Bennett almost made everything certain with 60 seconds remaining but again found Vickers in the way, however there was to be no late drama as the Exiles held on for another crucial three points.
Two games to go. Six points required. Play-offs almost secured.
Newport County AFC (4-3-3): Day, Butler, O’Brien (C), Demetriou, Poole, Sheehan, Dolan, Bennett, Kennedy (Azeez 74’), Amond, Willmott
Subs not used: Pipe, Marsh-Brown, Randall, Bakinson, McKirdy
Lincoln City (4-4-2): Vickers, Eardley, Bolger, Bostwick, Toffolo, Rowe, O’Connor (Pett 77’), O’Hara, Anderson (Andrade 58’), Rhead (C) (McCartan 45’), Akinde
Subs not used: Gilks, Wilson, Roberts
Referee: Paul Marsden
Attendance: 4,605 (788 AWAY)
Next up for County: Oldham Athletic (30th April 2019) HOME