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WHAT a difference a point makes.

The League Two table still doesn’t make for pretty viewing for Newport County AFC.

And the loss of Rene Howe to a season-ending injury took some of the shine off the day.

But Saturday’s performance, particularly in the first half, and the result against a team almost certain to be among the promotion pack this season were reasons to cheer for manager Justin Edinburgh and his team.

It was desperately needed after a miserable start to the new campaign with three straight defeats in the league and a Capital One Cup first round exit.

In complete contrast, Burton Albion arrived at Rodney Parade with a 100 per cent record and anticipating a cup tie at home to Premier League QPR on Wednesday.

After victories over Oxford United, Dagenham & Redbridge and Exeter City, and Championship Wigan Athletic in the cup, Gary Rowett’s men must have thought that three points were there for the taking.

But, following defeats to Wycombe Wanderers, Morecambe and Mansfield Town, as well as Championship Reading in the cup, Edinburgh made some big calls and they paid off.

Dropping your captain is never easy but the Exiles boss wasn’t afraid to do it last year with David Pipe and he was brave enough to leave Andy Sandell out after a similarly indifferent period.

On both occasions Ryan Jackson was the beneficiary and he more than justified his recall against Burton with a superb display in attack and defence.

Robbie Willmott was shifted to left wing-back and he too was excellent as County put the early-season pacesetters under serious pressure for the first hour of the game.

With Ismail Yakubu also dropping to the bench, Darren Jones took over as captain and he used all his Football League experience to guide youngsters Andrew Hughes and Kevin Feely through a testing afternoon.

County started brightly and looked full of confidence with Adam Chapman and Mark Byrne pulling the strings in midfield and Chris Zebroski making himself a nuisance up front.

But they still required their fair share of luck to get the campaign up and running – something that was missing for the last few weeks.

The opening goal on 37 minutes was a gift. Chris Zebroski’s header was on target but Brewers skipper Ian Sharps should have been able to clear rather than head onto the bar and into his own net.

John Mousinho levelled on 51 minutes after Lenny Pidgeley, Feely and Jones failed to clear a high ball and allowed the midfielder’s scuffed half volley to nestle in the back of the net.

And the visitors could and probably should have snatched all three points near the end.

After a poor Byrne pass, Lucas Akins beat the offside trap, beat Hughes after the defender had chased back admirably, and beat Pidgeley but his neat chip clipped the post and rebounded to safety.

Another defeat would have been very harsh on the hosts, however.

They could have had a second goal themselves in the first half through Lee Minshull.

The former AFC Wimbledon man is not usually noted for his goal of the season contenders but he would surely have been in the running had the 25-yard dipping volley dropped just a few inches lower just before the break.

As it was it cannoned back off the bar and, on reflection, both sides will probably regard this as a good point come the business end of the season.

It wasn’t all positive news for County, of course. It rarely is.

Howe will require surgery after he ruptured a thigh muscle in training on Thursday and is unlikely to play again this season.

His teammates are 22nd in the embryonic League Two table and they know that another defeat at high flying Portsmouth will pile on the pressure once again.

And the pre-match Red Devil parachutists, part of the NATO celebrations, appeared to damage the precious surface with divots and burn marks visible during the game. Thanks for that Barack Obama!

County: Pidgeley, Jackson, Feely, Jones, Hughes, Willmott, Minshull, Chapman, Byrne, O'Connor (Jeffers, 81), Zebroski

Subs not used: Thomas, Yakubu, Sandell, Klukowski, Patten, Jolley

Burton: McLaughlin; Edwards, Sharps, Cansdell-Sherriff, Taft; Akins, Mousinho, Weir, McFadzean (Harness, 79); Beavon, McGurk (MacDonald, 68)

Subs not used: Lyness, Bell, Knowles, Palmer, Slade

Booked: Edwards

Referee: Kevin Johnson

Attendance: 2,872