Newport County AFC and Tranmere Rovers played out a 0-0 draw at Rodney Parade in a game where a point for both sides was probably a fair result.
Chances were virtually non existent at Rodney Parade as it was more a defensive masterclass from both sides – the point helping County in their quest for the play-offs and aiding Tranmere’s hopes of the automatic spots.
The draw means the gap remains at six from the top seven for the Exiles ahead of the game in hand against Swindon Town at Rodney Parade on Tuesday night.
Manager Michael Flynn made one change to the starting side that secured a much-needed away victory with a 3-1 success at Yeovil Town last weekend.
Harry McKirdy fell to the bench as Flynn rewarded Keanu Marsh-Brown for a scintillating substitute appearance in Somerset by naming him in the starting side this time around.
Dan Butler retained his spot at left-back in a 4-4-2 formation meaning he made his 150th appearance for the Exiles.
Tranmere Rovers manager Micky Mellon matched Flynn by making just one alteration to his side which lost for the first time in nine matches away at Oldham Athletic in midweek.
Jay Harris struggled to impress against the Latics, so he dropped to the bench for the player which replaced him after an hour at Boundary Park, in Jonny Smith.
That saw the Super White Army stick to their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation at Rodney Parade with 29-goal striker James Norwood leading the line for Mellon’s team.
It wasn’t the most industrious of opening 45 minutes seen this season at Rodney Parade as neither side could particularly force too much of an impetus on the game.
At times, you could see why Tranmere were 5th in the table before kick-off, but they weren’t given much space to play their expansive style of football such was the defensive resilience from the Exiles.
When they did create sightings, they looked effective, especially the cross-field passes into the channels which caused problems in-behind Regan Poole and Dan Butler.
Ollie Banks was the conductor of the forward thinking play when it came although those passages of play were few and far between, but he was always a threat as the screen of the midfield.
The Birkenhead outfit had the best chance of the opening half on 13 minutes, Mark Ellis crashing a header off the crossbar after beating his marker and flicking on a well-placed corner-kick.
Banks saw two shots go wide from distance as proceedings drew closer to the half-time whistle, but that was about it from the visitors in the first-half.
County also looked effective when they were afforded time and space on the ball, but chances came at a premium with Tranmere also resolute in defence.
Ben Kennedy and Keanu Marsh-Brown both caused problems on the wings but Rovers defenders Mark Ellis and Manny Monthe limited the Exiles to just one header from Robbie Willmott.
That went straight into the gloves of Scott Davies, but the Tranmere goalkeeper was called into action shortly after the restart to repel a bullet header from Jamille Matt.
Jonny Smith passed up a great opportunity following another pinpoint pass from Banks, with the midfielder being replaced shortly after in the first substitute of the afternoon when Chris Dagnall came on.
The 32-year old former Barnsley striker should have put his name up his lights within 60 seconds of his introduction, but he somehow managed to hit the post from four yards with the goal at his mercy.
It was very much a stop-start game from there to the conclusion, but County thought they had pinched it with 45 seconds remaining.
Mark O’Brien forced a smart save from Davies and Labadie followed it up to seemingly get the points, but the flag was up early to rule it out for offside.
Both sides securing a share of the spoils on an afternoon where chances were few and far between.
Newport County AFC (4-4-2): Day, Butler, Demetriou, O’Brien, Poole, Kennedy (Dolan 69’), Labadie, Sheehan, Willmott (Amond 83’), Matt, Marsh-Brown (Azeez 62’)
Subs not used: Pipe, Randall, Crofts, McKirdy
Tranmere Rovers (4-2-3-1): Davies, Ridehalgh, Ellis, Monthe, Caprice, Smith (Dagnall 58’), Perkins, Jennings, Banks, Morris, Norwood
Subs not used: Pilling, Buxton, Nelson, Harris, Mullin, Gilmour
Referee: Alan Young
Attendance: 3,970 (670 AWAY)
Next up for County: Swindon Town (9th April 2019) HOME