Rochdale’s final game of the season might have ended in defeat, but it wouldn’t dampen what had already been a remarkable season for Dale, who clinched promotion to League One last weekend.
With promotion already sealed, there was party atmosphere at Rodney Parade as 1300 Dale fans made the trip to join the celebrations.
George Donnelly gave Rochdale a brief of hope of clinching the title as he opened the scoring shortly before the half hour mark, before Newport levelled 13 minutes later to go in level at the interval.
The second half saw Dale miss a penalty, the home side reduced to ten men, all before County turned the game on its head to secure a victory.
Manager Keith Hill named an unchanged eleven for the final game of the season, however there was one switch on the bench as Graham Cummins was replaced by Craig Lynch, who went on to make his debut.
The away end was a sea of bright colours as hundreds of supporters took part in #PinkPantsDay by donning everything from pink pants, to pink dresses, to tops, socks and wigs. It added to the fantastic atmosphere inside the packed ground, with both sets of fans in fine voice throughout the game.
The home side started the match on the front foot, but despite seeing plenty of the ball during the open exchanges, they failed to test ‘keeper Josh Lillis and it was Dale who had the first attempt on goal, with ten minutes on the clock.
Donnelly was sent through on goal with a pass down the left hand side of play, and after cutting inside, he sent an effort goal-wards, which went narrowly wide of the upright.
Dale then began to apply the pressure, and with the side working to carve an opening, a goal was always likely as they attacked in numbers, and they got the all important breakthrough in the 28th minute.
Donelly’s initial shot was stopped by the goalkeeper, but after spilling the effort, the striker made no mistake in getting on the end of it to slot it beyond Ian McLoughlin to net his fifth of the season.
GOAL: Newport County 0-1 ROCHDALE
Ten minutes later and an unmarked Ian Henderson had an opportunity to double Rochdale’s lead, but he could only head a cross from Michael Rose straight down the throat of McLoughlin, who collected.
Rochdale had a grip on the game, but a lively County were dangerous on the break, and in the 41 minutes they levelled the scoring after a cross came in from the right.
Mike Flynn’s initial effort was kept out by Lillis, but as the ball fell for Aaron O’Connor, he was on hand to turn the ball over the line.
GOAL: NEWPORT COUNTY 1-1 Rochdale
In stoppage time, Dale had appeals for a penalty turned down as Jamie Allen had was pulled to the ground inside the area. It was the last action of the half and the sides went in level at the interval.
HT: NEWPORT COUNTY 1-1 ROCHDALE
There were no changes at the interval for Dale as Manager Keith Hill stayed as was for the start of the second half.
Dale started the half brightly, but they were being forced to be patient as the home side defended resolutely, with the first clear cut opportunity of the half coming via a set piece from around 35-yards.
Rose powered the low free-kick goal-wards through a packed box, and the effort was deflected narrowly wide of the upright.
Three minutes later, following a short spell of sustained pressure inside the area, Donnelly eventually found space to fire a powerful effort fractionally over the bar.
Dale’s first substitution of the game followed immediately after the chance, with Craig Lynch being handed a debut. He replaced Bastien Hery.
The youngster, who joined Rochdale in January from Sunderland, looked confident on the ball and he looked to make his mark on the game.
Moments after joining the action he fired a snap shot on goal, troubling McLoughlin, who was forced to save.
Shortly after the hour mark, Lynch again looked a threat as he flashed an effort just wide of the post.
There was a double substitution for Dale in the 72nd minute, with Rose and Donnelly making way for Matty Done and Joe Bunney.
There was late drama in the game as Dale missed a penalty, Newport were reduced to ten men, all before the home side took lead.
Rochdale were awarded the spot-kick in the 83rd minute after Hendo was upended. He was brought to ground following a challenge from behind by Ryan Jackson, who received a red card.
Matty Lund stepped up to take the resulting penalty kick, but was kept out by McLoughlin.
The home side went on to take the lead in the 89th minute from a free-kick, as Feely sent a looping header over the top of Lillis after getting on the end of the set piece.
GOAL: NEWPORT COUNTY 2-1 Rochdale
Rochdale were unable to find a response and the game finished Newport County2, Rochdale 1.