Jamille Matt marked his return from injury by scoring the match winner as Newport County AFC ground out another 1-0 victory at Rodney Parade, this time against a brave Port Vale side.
For the third home league game in a row, County secured all three points by the slimmest of margins as substitute Matt converted Corey Whitely’s cross in the 77th minute to extend the long-standing unbeaten league record to 17 matches.
The Exiles remain in second position, two points behind early pacesetters Exeter City who won at Carlisle United.
Manager Michael Flynn made eight changes to the starting side which lost a nine-goal thriller against West Ham United U21s in the Leasing.Com Trophy on Tuesday night.
Tom King – who kept five league clean sheets last month – was restored to the starting line-up, behind a back four of Ryan Haynes, Mark O’Brien, Ryan Inniss and Daniel Leadbitter. The impressive Josh Sheehan helped provide the defensive screen, while Robbie Willmott, Joss Labadie and Matty Dolan lined up behind Padraig Amond and Tristan Abrahams.
Port Vale manager John Askey made five changes from the Valiants Leasing.Com exploits in midweek, meaning it was the exact same line up which played their last league fixture – a victory over Cambridge United.
Both teams have made impressive starts to the season and sat inside the top half before kick-off and it showed at Rodney Parade as possession was largely shared and the two sides looked impressive.
The defences stood out in the first half as chances were virtually non-existent, Valiants defender Adam Crookes particularly impressing when he twice headed dangerous Haynes deliveries away with Amond lurking at the far post.
Dolan wasn’t far away when he went for the audacious from 40 yards, Amond also saw a header hit the roof of the net but that was about it from an opening 45 minutes where the two sides largely cancelled the other out.
Into the second half and County were much improved as they controlled the majority of proceedings when really taking the game to their visitors and putting their mark on it.
On the hour, Sheehan hit the stanchion behind the goal with a crisp 20-yard free-kick while Amond again came close with another looping header.
After netting his first County goal last weekend with a piledriver at Forest Green Rovers, Haynes again took fire from distance on 72 minutes, but this one agonisingly cannoned back off the post with Scott Brown stranded.
The introduction of Whitely worked wonders as he injected that much needed change of pace to the contest with the Port Vale defence having something else to think about.
It was no surprise then that the summer arrival was involved in the match winner with 13 minutes left to play after another impressive run from midfield.
The 28-year old burst past David Worrall on the right side with relative ease before drilling the ball across the face of goal where another substitute – Matt – was waiting to smash home into the roof of the net.
County could have made a battling victory look more convincing with eight minutes to go as Matt was hauled to the floor by visiting captain Leon Legge. Brown was equal to Amond’s spot-kick, however, saving to his left, so County had to settle for another 1-0 victory.
Newport County AFC (4-1-2-1-2): Tom King, Ryan Haynes, Mark O’Brien, Ryan Inniss, Daniel Leadbitter (Corey Whitely 75’), Josh Sheehan, Robbie Willmott, Joss Labadie (Jamille Matt 62’), Matty Dolan, Padraig Amond, Tristan Abrahams (Kyle Howkins 90+1)
Subs not used: Townsend, Maloney, Poleon, Ekpiteta
Port Vale (4-3-3): Scott Brown, James Gibbons, Leon Legge (C), Nathan Smith, Adam Crookes, David Worrall, Luke Joyce, Tom Conlon (Callum Evans 85’), David Amoo, Richie Bennett (Tom Pope 75’), Cristian Montano (Archer 79’)
Subs not used: Maddison, Kennedy, Cullen, Taylor
Referee: Christopher Pollard
Attendance: 3,913 (255 AWAY)
Next up for County: Northampton Town (14th September 2019) AWAY