NEWPORT County AFC failed to back up their shock win over the League Two leaders after being edged out 1-0 by Swindon Town at the County Ground.
The Exiles made their shortest trip of the league campaign in fine spirits after their 2-1 triumph at Leyton Orient but they endured a pointless evening in Wiltshire.
It was goalless at the break but the Robins were in front five minutes after the restart thanks to young Welsh striker Luke Jephcott.
County had been disciplined and a threat on the break until that point but they needed to respond, something they failed to do as the clock ticked down despite a number of set play opportunities.
The golden chance came in added time when a loose ball fell to Lewis Collins in the box and the substitute did everything right only to be denied by a goalline clearance by Remeao Hutton.
Three points from a pair of tricky away games certainly isn’t the end of the world but it heaps even more pressure on the Exiles to end their four-game winless streak on home soil when they welcome fellow strugglers Rochdale to Rodney Parade on Saturday.
They have certainly looked organised in the last two games but more guile will be needed on the ball to earn the spoils in front of their supporters that will demand a second home league success of an inconsistent campaign.
Manager James Rowberry made two changes to the side that won at Orient with Cameron Norman replacing defender Priestley Farquharson, who limped off at Brisbane Road, and experienced Robbie Willmott getting the nod ahead of young Aston Villa loanee Hayden Lindley in midfield.
Swindon included a pair of Welshmen in their XI with Jonny Williams looking to provide a creative spark and Jephcott aiming to be the cutting edge up front.
County stuck with the 3-5-2 that had worked a treat in east London with Norman’s introduction leading to James Clarke moving to the middle of the defensive three.
Swindon started sharply with Nick Townsend, whose poor kicking was gifting away the ball, forced into a strong save down to his right from Ronan Darcy in the seventh minute.
That was followed by a more routine stop from a thumping Jacob Wakeling effort before Ben Gladwin scuffed a shot wide from distance.
The Swindon skipper was then booked for a rash challenge on Aaron Wildig that gave Adam Lewis an opportunity from a long-range free-kick that he didn’t take, the left-back curling it high and wide.
County grew into the game and went close after 16 minutes when the hosts played themselves into trouble to give striker Omar Bogle a sight of goal only for ‘keeper Solomon Brynn to block his effort before Wildig was denied by the defence from the rebound.
Will Evans was causing the Robins plenty of problems and Aaron Lewis was delivering some tempting balls from the right.
The Exiles looked well-drilled without the ball as it remained 0-0 after 33 minutes, but only thanks to Aaron Lewis being alert to clear from inside the six-yard box after Townsend fumbled a cross.
Captain Mickey Demetriou led by example to ensure it was goalless at the break despite getting treatment for a head injury, climbing high to clear one cross and then getting his bonce on a thumping drive.
Townsend had to be alert to deny Darcy from distance twice at the start of the second half but County didn’t learn their lesson.
The midfielder was allowed to cut in on his right far too easily and his curled effort was only palmed away by the goalkeeper with Jephcott reacting sharply to get the opener.
County needed to respond and they applied some pressure through Demetriou’s long throw and corners.
Yet it needed the captain to be sharp in the other box to keep his side within striking distance, the stalwart blocking superbly to deny Jephcott a second just past the hour.
Brynn followed an awful mistake to gift County a corner after 64 minutes with a superb fingertip save to deny Bogle from the resulting set play, although the goalkeeper didn’t get the credit for the stop when referee Peter Wright somehow gave a goalkick.
County were chasing the game and Rowberry turned to his bench, bringing on the fresh legs of James Waite and then Hayden Lindley and Lewis Collins with 20 minutes to go.
The aerial route continued to be their best bet on that front yet Swindon stood firm against the set plays as the clock ticked down.
The final change came with three to go when Rowberry threw on Cardiff striker Chanka Zimba in the hope that they would somehow conjure a final chance.
Last season Finn Azaz forced an own goal at the death to spark wild celebrations in the away end, with the manager sprinting to join them.
That was after a win and the scenes were almost repeated after a dramatic draw only for Hutton to save the day when Collins thought he’d been the last-gasp hero.
Swindon scorer: Jephcott Yellow: Gladwin, Darcy, Blake-Tracey.
County: Townsend, Aaron Lewis, Norman (Collins 72), Clarke, Demetriou (captain), Adam Lewis, Willmott, Moriah-Welsh (Lindley 72), Wildig (Waite 66), Bogle, Evans (Zimba 87).
Substitutes: Day, Drysdale, Bennett.
Yellow: Adam Lewis Referee: Peter Wright Attendance: 9,325 (648 away)