Newport County 2 Carlisle United 0: This was a clash of styles and, it turned out, effectiveness. Ignore the pretence that a late Carlisle penalty could have made this a tighter contest. Newport were more dangerous, more forceful, and far from flattered by the outcome.

Carlisle, sadly, were value for it too. This fifth winless game highlighted problems which have become familiar lately and, right now, this does not look like a play-off side.

Of the two teams who lined up on Rodney Parade’s heavy pitch, it was the “amber army” who looked fit to drive on. Their bustling, three-man attack, fed by a barrage of deliveries, caused many more problems than Carlisle’s creative players did at the other end.

Steven Pressley felt there was little in the game other than two badly-conceded goals, yet the fact is United had to chase things from the 14th minute and when confronted with this challenge, especially in the second half, offered paltry threat. For all their attempts at interplay in the middle third they had nobody with quite so much presence as Jamille Matt, the big Newport striker, who led the line amply and was supported well by goalscorers Ade Azeez and Padraig Amond.

Carlisle’s side has been rejigged since January and, on recent evidence, remains without the thrust provided by their departed loanees. Jamie Devitt’s return from suspension next weekend could change the feel of things and it will need to, for if two winnable (in theory) home games against Swindon and Notts County pass without a good supply of points, this will risk becoming the latest Blues season to falter on the back nine.

Two points from 15 puts extra pressure on those fixtures. This one was another where United offered glimpses of individual quality but not the potency of a team. They fashioned a few good first-half openings, but so did Newport, and the difference was in the sense of power when Mike Flynn’s team got bodies around Carlisle’s box.

When Joe Day guessed correctly to push Danny Grainger’s late spot-kick away, it felt entirely in keeping with a bad day. It was also the polar opposite for Grainger – also at fault for Newport’s second goal – to the joy he created when scoring against these opponents in November.

Since then Flynn’s side have excelled more in cup than league, where United have overtaken them. A long season, though, contains many twists and the Exiles began their bid to return from the fringes of the play-off race here, Azeez chasing the ball down inside the first minute to enable Dan Butler to cross. Alongside Matt, Azeez’s appetite gave United’s defenders plenty of bother. There was hustling and balls into the box and Carlisle’s best bet was to absorb this sometimes frantic pressure and counter.

They nearly did on nine minutes, but when Hallam Hope found space through the middle to break onto Callum O'Hare's pass, the ball seemed to skip too quickly along the dodgy turf and helped Day to save. Mark Cullen’s follow-up was deflected wide and from there Newport found more joy.

Amond went close when he shot against the inside of the post but Azeez then found criminal space at the back post to make sure a free header from a team-mate found the net.

Here, it was easier to agree with Pressley’s view: Carlisle’s failure to pick up Newport men had nothing to do with anything that happened elsewhere. Yet the hosts’ threat was far from isolated, Matt turning the ball smartly to Azeez a few minutes later, enabling the scorer to attack a backpedalling defence and test Adam Collin.

United remained in search of the ambitious or threaded ball. One of their better probings saw O’Hare, again, slot Stefan Scougall through, Day saving, with Tom Parkes’ follow-up from the corner deflected wide.

Other times, their efforts were cut out and made you wish they could trade some of their garnish for Newport’s meat and potatoes. Further exchanges saw Matt clear the bar after another cross bounced his way, Anthony Gerrard at full stretch to win two last-ditch challenges, Collin fail to reach a couple more crosses and then a spate of shoddy play which saw Grainger’s ball down the left charged down and a Kelvin Etuhu interception allowed to roll to Matt; Carlisle’s keeper to the rescue.

These were signs of a side far from full colour. Pressley decided against a half-time tweak and soon saw his side on the defensive again. Matt and Azeez failed to convert more crosses while Gerrard’s frustration overlapped into a booking for dissent. A couple more half-chances passed by and then Amond made it two, showing good opportunism when Grainger made a poor, close-range fist of dealing with a Newport header from another short corner routine.

There may have been few more serious chances from here but from Newport’s point of view there didn’t need to be. It was on United to raise their attacking game and they could not. Hope volleyed a cross from sub Nathan Thomas against the side-netting and things had long fizzled out by the time Parkes was hauled down in the box when lunging to reach a free-kick, ref Ross Joyce spotting the foul and giving Grainger the chance to make things more interesting.

Some things in football are not as predictable as they seem but it still felt appropriate not just to this game but Carlisle’s form in general that their captain, reliable from the spot more often than not, couldn’t send this one home.

A kind interpretation of events would be to say that better sides than United – some of them two and three divisions higher – have come a cropper at this boisterous ground in 2018/19. A more meaningful summary for those who trudged out of Rodney Parade in the rain is that the Blues need to be much better and brighter regardless.

Newport: Day, Poole, Butler, Demetriou, O’Brien, Bennett, Dolan (Sheehan 31), Willmott, Azeez (McKirdy 84), Amond, Matt (Labadie 74). Not used: Townsend, Pipe, Bakinson, Marsh-Brown.

Goals: Azeez 14, Amond 67

Booked: Sheehan

United: Collin, Liddle, Grainger, Parkes, Gerrard, Etuhu (Thomas 68), Slater, O’Hare, Scougall, Hope (McCarron 86), Cullen. Not used: Gray, Miller, Kennedy, Jones, Grant.

Booked: Gerrard, Thomas

Ref: Ross Joyce

Crowd: 3,432 (233 Carlisle fans)