Newport manager Michael Flynn hailed the impact of veteran substitute Kevin Ellison as the 41-year-old’s stoppage-time winner finally broke 10-man Port Vale’s resistance and extended the Exiles’ lead at the top of League Two.
Vale were clinging on for a draw after seeing captain Leon Legge sent off for a second bookable offence in the 69th minute.
And it looked like John Askey’s men would frustrate the table-toppers at Rodney Parade before Ellison prodded in from close range from a stoppage-time corner.
It’s the fourth time this season that County have snatched the points late after similar late wins over Harrogate, Mansfield and Colchester.
And Flynn is delighted with his team’s never-say-die attitude, as well as the impressive stamina shown by Ellison.
“It’s the sign of a good team that they kept going, we knew that they had 10 men and we knew that we would have another chance, and what a finish from Kev,” said Flynn, manager of the month in October.
“We wanted to attack them and took off our two wing-backs late on in the game and went for it with two wingers. We wanted to force the issue and go for the win.
“I knew that if an opportunity fell for Kev that he would score, and that’s what he did. He is a fantastic professional and a great human being.”
Scott Twine, Jamie Proctor and Liam Shephard had all gone close in the first half, the latter hitting the post.
It looked like the win would elude them when defender Brandon Cooper and substitute Padraig Amond both headed wide with big chances late on before Ellison’s late heroics.
“He won’t shut up about it now,” joked Flynn, who brought in his good friend from Morecambe in the summer.
“He’s already spouted off. As soon as he scored, he said imagine how many he’d get if he was given more than six minutes!
“I know what I am getting from Kev and he’s a brilliant option to have. If that was to fall to anyone, I wanted it to be him, because I knew that he would score.
“Kev is a character but a fantastic professional, that’s why he is still playing at that age.
“He has had some tough times but has come through and is always there to help others.”
Vale fashioned plenty of good opportunities before the break with David Worrall and Tom Conlan’s testing home goalkeeper Nick Townsend and Mark Cullen twice going close.
But Askey’s men were up against it after Legge’s second yellow for a late challenge on Newport sub Joss Labadie midway through the first half.
A third straight defeat in the league sees them slip to ninth and left Askey cursing his luck.
“I thought we deserved more,” he said. “We were seconds away from getting a result.
“Having gone down to 10 men, we thought we’d done enough to get the draw.
“When we went down to 10, we just tried to contain the opposition and hopefully hit them on the break.
“I thought we’d done enough and up until the last corner, we did.
“That is twice that we’ve gone down to 10 men this season and twice that we’ve lost in the last seconds.
“It’s hard to bear but I can’t ask any more of the players, they’ve worked really hard.”
Newport host Walsall on Tuesday, while Vale travel to struggling Stevenage.
“With the amount of games coming up, the last thing you want to do is go down to 10 men,” added Askey.
“If we can get everyone fit, it’s not so bad but we are carrying one or two knocks.
“Hopefully, we can get a few back and we will have a fit squad to pick from.”