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IMPROVED NEWPORT CAUGHT OUT BY SHREWS; NEWPORT...................0 SHREWSBURY.............1 Akpa Akpro 77.

NEWPORT COUNTY slipped to a third successive defeat in League Two as promotion rivals Shrewsbury Town edged a tight contest at Rodney Parade.

After being thumped 4-0 at Cambridge United and 3-0 at Northampton Town this was a much improved performance from Justin Edinburgh's men.

But they still ended up empty handed as substitute Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro took advantage of some sloppy defending and finished superbly inside the far post 14 minutes from time.

Darren Jones was the man at fault at the back for the Exiles who will be extremely frustrated that all their hard work in an impressive display counted for nothing.

Top-scorer Aaron O'Connor did have the ball in the net in a first half that the hosts largely dominated but the Shrews were saved by the assistant referee's raised flag.

O'Connor was also denied superbly by visiting goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler and his strike partner Chris Zebroski dragged a golden chance just wide of the far post when released by star man Mark Byrne.

County goalkeeper Joe Day had little to do for the most part and a more subdued second half saw both teams seemingly settling for a point apiece before Akpa Akpro's inspired introduction.

Fellow sub Keith Southern was sent off in a bad-tempered finale but the Shrews held on.

But County manager Justin Edinburgh was unhappy that a defensive error saw his side slip to a third successive defeat.

"I'm extremely frustrated," said Edinburgh.

"It was a tough game out there in tough conditions with two teams who worked very hard and unfortunately a mistake has cost us the game.

"They shouldn't have had the opportunity and we're disappointed but it was more about the performance today.

"We went toe to toe with a top team and we matched them but one costly error means it is three defeats on the spin.

"We've got another tough away game at Wimbledon now where we've got to start a run," he added.

"Sometimes you forget how hard it is to win football matches and we've certainly found that in the last three games."

The cold and blustery conditions made attractive football a difficult proposition but Edinburgh was pleased by his side's effort and application despite the end result. "There wasn't a lot of free flowing football," he said.

"The pitch was a bit dry and the wind played its part.

"Both teams had the same system as well. It was hard fought and very tight.

"I believe in our system and I believe in the individuals to get us on another run.

"We're fully aware that it's easy to lose football matches and we've got to go to Wimbledon now and get a result.

"We've got to find an inner strength and a belief and get back to what we did well, which we did today.

"But no one is going to give you anything in this league."

COUNTY: Day, Jackson, Yakubu, Jones, Feely, Sandell, Porter, Byrne (Minshull 87), Chapman (Klukowski 82), Zebroski (Storey 79), O'Connor EVESHAM ............................0 MERTHYR TOWN................1 MERTHYR TOWN extended their unbeaten Southern League run to 10 matches with a 1-0 win against Evesham at the Jubilee Stadium.

Manager Steve Jenkins saw a 24th-minute goal from Corey Jenkins separate the sides to leave the Martyrs nine points clear of Taunton Town, who won 1-0 at home against Shortwood United.

Next up for Merthyr in their bid to seal the Division One South and West title is a trip to face Swindon Supermarine next Saturday, with a top-of-the-table clash with Taunton the following weekend.

CAPTION(S):

Tempers flare at Rodney Parade as Newport lost out to a late strike by Shrewsbury's Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro PICTURE: Huw Evans Agency
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 1, 2015
Words:615
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