NEWPORT 1 POMPEY 0
Pompey’s first fixture of 2015 ended in defeat on a controversial afternoon in Newport.
Jed Wallace had strong appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Michael Bull in the first half.
The official then allowed Mark Byrne’s strike to stand after the break, despite a flag being raised for offside.
Andy Awford made two changes from the side that drew at Luton in the final game of 2014.
Matt Tubbs was handed his debut alongside Ryan Taylor up front, with Andy Barcham dropping to the bench.
Danny Hollands returned from illness to feature in midfield, replacing Marcus Bean, who left the club last week.
There were not too many clear-cut openings in the early stages, although one new innovation did spark the crowd’s interest.
Pompey fans were able to see vanishing spray – which has been used in the Premier League and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – applied for the first time in a league fixture when the hosts won a free-kick.
Meanwhile, the Blues won a couple of corners that came to nothing, while Taylor’s shot on the turn was kept out by County keeper Joe Day.
At the other end, skipper Andy Sandell placed two free-kicks in a dangerous area, but they were comfortably dealt with by the visitors’ back-line.
Both sides were keen to get forward despite the lack of goalmouth action and play quickly switched from end to end.
The quick-thinking Nicky Shorey created an opening on 31 minutes with a short free-kick, but Wallace – making his 100th appearance – saw his low cross blocked.
Tubbs and Taylor then linked-up well and the latter fired narrowly over, although the flag had already been raised for offside.
There was then a moment of controversy as Wallace burst into the box and went down under pressure from Byrne, only for Bull to wave away the penalty appeals.
And Newport almost snatched a goal late in the first half, with Paul Jones getting down quickly to push clear Aaron O’Connor’s angled drive.
Half Time: Newport 0 Pompey 0
Both sides were keen to make their mark once the game got back underway after the interval.
Jones did well to palm behind Sandell’s near-post header after the wing-back had been left in space to meet Byrne’s cross.
Wallace then tried his luck with a fiercely-struck effort from distance that flew inches past the post.
Pompey had a great chance to break the deadlock on 52 minutes following some decent play by Nigel Atangana down the right.
The Frenchman beat his man and sent a diagonal cross towards Taylor, who drilled the ball into the centre where the lurking Tubbs got it caught under his feet.
And Shaun Jeffers almost made them pay for their profligacy with a looping header that dipped just over the crossbar.
The Blues were looking bright and a corner almost led to them taking the lead on 62 minutes.
It was Wallace who eventually picked up the ball and sent it across the goal-line, but somehow nobody was able to force it into the net.
Instead it was Newport who scored on 67 minutes – albeit in extremely controversial circumstances.
Byrne swung a free-kick into the net from wide on the left, only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside.
After conversing with his colleague Bull decided, however, that the penalised player had not been interfering with play.
Pompey were incensed by the decision, with Jones’ protestations eventually seeing him receive a booking.
Barcham and Craig Westcarr were thrown on as the Blues were forced to go on the attack in search of an equaliser.
But it was Adam Webster who came close to grabbing one, with a snap-shot from 30 yards that Day just about managed to push clear.
The right-back then saw his off-the-ball surge towards the box illegally ended, with Shorey bending the resulting free-kick wide.
And Westcarr came close with another set-piece in the closing stages, only for Day to get down quickly and scramble the ball behind.
Pompey poured forward in stoppage-time, but Newport survived wave after wave of attack to secure all three points.
Newport (3-5-2): Day; Poole, Jones, Yakubu; Jackson, Minshull (Klukowski 68), Byrne, Chapman (Porter 89), Sandell (c); O’Connor (Howe 86), Jeffers
Goals: Byrne 67
Booked: Klukowski, Chapman
Subs not used: Stephens, Flynn, Owen-Evans, Crow
Pompey (4-4-2): Jones; Webster, Robinson, Devera, Shorey; Wallace, Ertl (c) (Barcham 73), Hollands (Dunne 89), Atangana; Taylor (Westcarr 76), Tubbs
Booked: Hollands, Jones
Subs not used: Poke, Whatmough, Chorley, Butler
Referee: Michael Bull
Attendance: 4,575 (921 Pompey fans)