WHAT started in Scunthorpe could end at Wembley after a nervy afternoon in Southend.

After 46 games in 34 weeks, Newport County AFC’s season will continue into the League Two play-offs where they will face Forest Green Rovers.

The Exiles headed to Roots Hall needing a point to secure a top-seven finish, starting the afternoon in fifth place. That's where they finished after a dramatic 90 minutes in Essex, Oldham, Devon and Merseyside.

County had been in the play-off berths from matchday three to matchday 45 but needed to finish the job to get what they felt they deserved.

It was far from a routine afternoon.

County fell behind to an early Shaun Hobson goal and were fortunate to only be 1-0 down at the break.

The Shrimpers wasted an early opportunity to stretch their lead soon after the resumption and were made to pay when Mickey Demetriou flicked home a header.

That certainly wasn’t that. It toom a superb Tom King save from a penalty that should never have been to keep County on level terms.

The Exiles lost captain Joss Labadie to what looked like a serious injury to his left knee but they held firm.

As it happened, Exeter failed to get the win they needed against Barrow... what was the fuss about?!

So, after 56 games the Exiles will have at least another two fixtures for the right to make it to 59 at Wembley.

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There was drama before a ball was kicked with Salford’s game at Leyton Orient delayed by an hour because of torrential rain.

That affected Forest Green and Exeter but not County, who wanted an afternoon where they didn’t need to frantically check other scores.

Predictably that wasn’t to happen.

Flynn, as expected, named the same side for the fifth game on the spin and stuck with the same subs that were on the bench in the 1-0 win against Cheltenham.

The Exiles started sharply to get their noses in front against the Robins but this time they were chasing.

King had already been forced to make a smart save from Greg Halford but the visitors failed to deal with the resulting corner and defender Shaun Hobson fired past the ‘keeper, who had kept four clean sheets on the spin after regaining his start.

County worked their way into the game yet should have been 2-0 down after 23 minutes when Elvis Bwomono was worked in down the right and he crossed across to Greg Halford, who blazed over from a couple of yards.

It was a shocking miss but the Exiles failed to make the most of it approaching half-time, seemingly reluctant to pull the trigger with Padraig Amond wasting a chance to test Mark Oxley when he tried to cut back onto his right in the 39th minute.

Scot Bennett did have a crack shortly afterwards and his left-footed effort from outside the box had the stopper scrambling but it went just wide of the right post.

That was as close as the Exiles came in an extremely disappointing first half performance, with Southend no doubt disappointed to only be a goal to the good.

County were lucky to still be in it soon after the restart when Bennett was caught out at the back, Halford played in Matt Rush but King was out quickly to block in a one-on-one.

It was the other ‘keeper’s turn for heroics after 50 minutes when Josh Sheehan fired in a free-kick that Oxley clawed out from the top corner.

County were level after 56 minutes when Demetriou got up high to flick an Aaron Lewis long throw into the corner of the net but the drama kept coming.

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Liam Shephard was adjudged to have handled in the box but the defender seemed to be fouled in the process.

County were livid but King ensured they stayed level with a superb stop to his left from Rush.

It was tense and tight but enough for County, who were forced into a change when captain Joss Labadie went down heavily.

There was an immediate call for a stretcher but he hobbled off with his left knee heavily strapped, Matty Dolan replacing him.

Flynn then made a second change, bringing on the physical presence of Ryan Taylor up front for Amond.

County knew that a point was good enough and were happy to go to the corner in the closing stages – a little too early for this writer’s liking – but the minutes ticked towards the 90.

Four minutes were added on but thankfully County avoided any late scares on a day that had plenty.

Now for more twists and turns in the play-offs.