Wrexham AFC succumbed to defeat in the Welsh Derby, as they fell to a 1-0 loss on a cold afternoon at Rodney Parade.
Will Boyle was shown a red card after 18 minutes for his challenge on Shane McLoughlin, making the Red Dragons’ task even tougher in Newport.
Seb Palmer-Houlden broke the deadlock in the 34th minute, as he rose highest to head in from Newport captain Ryan Delaney’s cross.
Despite a valiant effort from Phil Parkinson’s side, they couldn’t manage a late comeback - but they still remain in the Sky Bet League Two promotion places.
With Stockport County’s match against Notts County called off due to a frozen pitch, the Red Dragons were handed a fantastic opportunity to claim first place in the Sky Bet League Two table.
Phil Parkinson was forced into making four changes to the side that calmly dispatched of AFC Wimbledon in a 2-0 win last weekend, as Will Boyle, Ryan Barnett, James Jones and Sam Dalby all came into the starting eleven.
That meant that Tom O’Connor, Anthony Forde, Andy Cannon and Steven Fletcher all missed out, with Parkinson confirming that they were all ruled out of contention with injury.
Newport however, decided to name an unchanged side, with Graham Coughlan deciding to stick with the line-up that booked County’s place in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup to set up a tie with Manchester United.
The previous fixture between the two sides started in a tense fashion, with the match deadlocked at half-time. After the hosts got the game underway, a similar pattern unfolded - a game full of intensity but very little chances to show for those efforts.
Wrexham were handed a costly blow in the 18th minute, as Boyle, who came in to replace O’Connor, was shown his marching orders for a reckless challenge on Shane McLoughlin.
The defender’s touch was stray and he slid towards the ball, winning the challenge, but his trailing leg seemed to catch County’s number 19 and he was subsequently shown red.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Red Dragons had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock shortly afterwards.
Barnett’s plucky determination led to him keeping the ball in County’s box, but his right-footed effort from an awkward angle landed just wide of the post.
Soon enough, Newport took the lead after 34 minutes in South Wales.
Seb Palmer-Houlden rose highest from Ryan Delaney's superb cross and the young forward on-loan from Bristol City headed with ease into the top-right corner.
Newport continued to level-up their pressure on Parkinson’s ten-man side, but Arthur Okonkwo made a fantastic outstretched save in spectacular fashion, denying Bryn Morris' powerful right-footed strike after 40 minutes.
George Evans got the second half underway, and Barnett seemed to shift higher up the pitch to accompany Paul Mullin in Wrexham’s forward line.
As the Red Dragons advanced up the pitch, Palmer-Houlden spurned a golden opportunity. He latched onto an under-hit pass from McClean, only to fire wide of Okonkwo’s goal in the 50th minute.
Chances were few and far between, with the numerical difference clearly playing its role in Wrexham’s fortunes. While not much of note was created going forwards for the visitors, Okonkwo continued to make a number of key saves to keep the game alive at Rodney Parade.
Parkinson brought Ollie Palmer, as Barnett then returned to his more natural position.
Wrexham continued to battle, going toe-to-toe with their Welsh rivals.
However, despite a valiant and hard-working performance, chances just didn’t seem to fall for Wrexham in South Wales and they couldn’t manage to find an elusive equaliser at Rodney Parade.
Wrexham AFC: Okonkwo, Cleworth (Palmer 62’), Tozer (C), Boyle, Barnett, Jones (Bickerstaff 82’), Evans, Lee, McClean, Dalby (O’Connell 23’), Mullin.
Subs not used: Howard, McFadzean, McAlinden, Young.
Newport County: Townsend, Lewis (Bondswell 65’), Delaney (C), Clarke, Evans, Morris, Bennett, McLoughlin, Charsley (Waite 74’), Wildig (Baker 74’) Bak, Palmer-Houlden.
Subs not used: Maxted, Payne, Rai, Wood.
Match Attendance: 9,537 (1,400 Away)