NEWPORT County AFC beat title-chasing Cheltenham but the race for the play-offs will go to the last afternoon after late drama in Bolton.

Just as the Exiles were seeing out a hard-earned 1-0 win against the Robins at Rodney Parade, Exeter were grabbing a winner deep in injury time to stay within three points.

County were on the brink of sealing a top-seven finish but now head to Southend next Saturday with work still to do.

A point will do the job at Roots Hall and they should achieve that if they repeat the effort against Cheltenham.

Joss Labadie fired them into the lead after three minutes and they held on thanks to a fourth clean sheet on the spin, with Mickey Demetriou sensational.

County were more than good value for a 1-0 half-time lead earned by the captain Labadie, who struck from outside the box.

The Exiles were controlled and composed with the in-form front line of Padraig Amond and Lewis Collins causing the leaders’ defence problems with their energy and industry.

Cheltenham were better after the break but the Exiles held firm to ensure they head to Southend needing only to share the spoils.

County headed into the game just wanting to stay in control of their destiny and they achieved that, even if the late goal in Bolton was a sucker punch.

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Flynn named the same side for the fourth game on the spin, rewarding those who had beaten Crawley and Scunthorpe either side of the draw at Exeter.

The manager made a solitary change on the bench, opting for Ryan Taylor’s physicality rather than Dom Telford’s energy as an attacking option.

Michael Duff, League Two manager of the year, made one change with the introduction of dangerman Alfie May, their top scorer.

It was an eventful start with Cheltenham given a rollocking by captain Ben Tozer for sloppiness just seconds before the opener.

Labadie received the ball in the final third, was given too much time and lashed the ball past Josh Griffiths at his near post.

County were in front in the fourth minute but it was nearly a short-lived lead with a Ben Tozer long throw causing mayhem in the box for Conor Thomas to fire at goal and Ryan Haynes to clear off the line.

It prompted tirades from both bosses – Flynn was furious at his goalkeeper Tom King for failing to take command and Duff was raging that a penalty was not awarded for handball.

County nearly doubled their lead via the Tozer method in the 20th minute when Aaron Lewis launched a throw into the box, Mickey Demetriou flicked on a header and Griffiths made a fine one-handed save, also pushing the ball away from danger.

The Exiles had another chance after 23 minutes when Lewis Collins did superbly to steal possession down the left and he cut the ball back for Padraig Amond, it was on his weaker left but he should have hit the target from 12 yards rather than fire over.

The hosts were causing the Robins’ defence plenty of problems with their energy up front, Amond and Collins forcing errors and running in behind.

They were more than good value for their lead and the only disappointment was that they failed to add to their advantage before the break.

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Cheltenham’s main threat was missiles from the arms of former Exile Tozer but Flynn would have warned his side that the Robins would improve after the resumption.

Duff made a half-time change with midfielder Callum Wright on for defender Charlie Raglan, meaning they went with four at the back.

Cheltenham were much-improved but the Exiles hit the hour mark with their advantage intact and without King being forced into dramatic action.

The Robins made a triple change after 62 minutes to try and force the issue but it remained the Tozer throws that were causing the most stress.

County had a lucky escape after 68 minutes when King made a bad decision to come for a long pass into his area and he got away with flapping at the dipping ball, his defenders scrambling to help out.

Cheltenham were throwing more and more bodies forward while County watched the clock tick along.

Flynn made his first change with 10 to go when Nicky Maynard replaced Collins, who had been struggling with an injury to his right leg since the first half.

County had changed from 3-5-2 to 5-3-2 and they had six added minutes to negotiate.

They managed to do that superbly… but Bolton conceded at the death.

County: King, Shephard, Bennett, Demetriou, Lewis, Haynes, Sheehan, Labadie (captain), Hartigan, Collins (Maynard 80), Amond.

Substitutes: Townsend, Dolan, Ledley, Gambin, Ellison, Taylor.

Yellow: Bennett

Goal: Labadie

Cheltenham: Griffiths, Long, Hussey, Tozer (captain), Raglan, THomas, Smith, May, Blair, Lloyd, Sercombe.
Substitutes: Flinders, Williams, Freestone, Azaz, Wright, Chapman, Vassilev.

Yellow: May, Tozer, Long

Referee: Scott Oldham