AFTER FA Cup drama against Leeds United, Newport County AFC showed they haven’t taken their eye off the ball in League Two with a hard-earned victory at Grimsby Town.

Goals in either half from Robbie Willmott and Frank Nouble secured a second successive league win and cemented County’s place in the play-off pack.

Substitute Jamille Matt made a game of it as he pulled a goal back on 80 minutes but he was then sent off and the Exiles secured a thoroughly deserved three points.

Manager Michael Flynn kept faith with the team that started and performed so well against Leeds last week.

And he was rewarded with another excellent team display.

The hosts were on top for the opening 15 minutes with Scott Vernon, Charles Vernam and Martyn Woolford all going close from the edge of the area.

But as soon as Willmott struck to put County ahead there was only one side in the contest.

The breakthrough arrived on 19 minutes after good link play between Frank Nouble and Padraig Amond on the right flank.

The ball was worked across the box via Scot Bennett before Willmott took charge, turning inside his man and unleashing a rocket of a shot inside the post from 20 yards.

That was the cue for the Exiles to take control and they really should have extended their lead before the break.

Nouble nearly diverted a Matty Dolan free-kick into the net but his reaction shot was just off target.

Amond then headed over the bar from another Dolan set-piece before Ben Davies was twice called upon to clear off the line.

The Grimsby defender first denied Joss Labadie and was then in the right place to keep out Dan Butler’s shot from the rebound.

And Amond so nearly had the goal he deserved against his former club a minute before the break.

A long ball forward set the Irishman free through the middle and he lobbed a shot over on-rushing goalkeeper Jake Kean.

But Zak Mills raced back to hook the ball clear of danger and Flynn’s men had to settle for a one-goal lead at the halfway stage.

County nearly paid for those missed chances 10 minutes after the restart and they were grateful to Joe Day for a superb fingertip save to deny Vernon an equaliser.

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Within 30 seconds it was 2-0 as Day caught the corner and released Butler.

The left-back moved the ball down the line to Nouble, who cut inside from the left and tried his luck.

And his luck was in as the shot deflected off the outstretched leg of Karleigh Osborne and inside the near post, giving Kean no chance.

That was the crucial passage of play – almost 1-1 to 2-0 in half a minute.

Russell Slade, who was getting plenty of stick from the stands may bemoan his misfortune but it was no less than County deserved for their dominance.

Slade eventually responded to his critics by making a double substitution with Diallang Jaiyesimi and Matt coming on.

Matt has so often been a thorn in County’s side and he got his customary goal against the Exiles 10 minutes from time to set up a grandstand finish.

But even he was then sent off for an apparent elbow on Mickey Demetriou and an astonishing eight minutes of stoppage time was added.

The home crowd tried to spur their team on but some heroic defending at the death from County ensured the three points were heading back to Wales.

County: Day; Pipe, White, Demetriou, Butler; Dolan (Tozer, 79), Bennett, Labadie (Reid, 84); Willmott (McCoulsky, 85), Amond, Nouble

Subs not used: Bittner, Sheehan, Collins, Hayes

Booked: Labadie, Nouble, White

Referee: Graham Salisbury

Attendance: 3,397 (County 99)

Argus star man: Amond