IT WAS easy to lose your bearings as the rain swirled in gloomy south Wales.

Harry Lewis certainly did and got away with it.

But City weren’t quite so fortunate when they veered off the path to what should have been another profitable road trip.

Nothing epitomises the grim grind of League Two life than Newport away.

A long slog to an outpost of few pretensions in front of a hostile crowd and invariably under an unwelcoming blanket of grey cloud.

If ever there is a reason to clamber out of this division, it’s to get away from trips like this.

No disrespect intended to the proud Exiles, who have clambered their way back admirably from non-league oblivion, but where would you rather be playing next season … Rodney Parade or Pride Park in Derby?

That’s the challenge thrown down to Mark Hughes’ men to earn that more appealing fixture list on offer with a return to the third tier.

But to do that, they must get down and dirty and earn those points the hard way at some less than appealing venues.

Saturday was a case in point - and the point they took on the long road back to West Yorkshire felt a bit of an empty one compared with the previous draw at Walsall.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Sam Stubbs shields the ball from striker Omar BogleSam Stubbs shields the ball from striker Omar Bogle (Image: Thomas Gadd)

Consecutive draws have slowed the charge towards the automatic places. Once more, the tantalising prospect of third place has been dangled in front of City’s eyes and then snatched away.

News that Carlisle had found a winner six minutes deep in stoppage time at Swindon was a stinging blow. With Stevenage also victorious, the gap increases again.

Not that City had done enough to secure a first away win over Newport since the Welsh club were reborn. Even if they thought they probably had.

Once the home side fought their way back on terms thanks to a diversion off the unfortunate Liam Ridehalgh, the energy seemed to be sucked out of the Bantams.

They collectively appeared to hit empty; nothing left in the tank to drum up a response to conceding only a second goal in the last seven games.

The last fortnight spent predominantly on the highways and byways, negotiating the endless diversions and coned-off junctions, had drained the impetus. The get up and go had gone.

Taking 11 points from the five games crammed into those two weeks - with only one of them at home - is a decent effort. City remain very much in the hunt, with the usual caveat that the Valley Parade form needs to match that of the rest of the promotion-chasing bunch.

But this should have been a win for the taking against an opponent who, with their League Two safety pretty much secured, really didn’t have that much to play for.

The fact that Newport had still not managed a shot on target after equalising summed up a huff and puff approach with no cutting edge to hurt the visitors.

Things could have panned out very differently, of course, had Lewis seen his 100 per cent season record suddenly cut short midway through the first half.

His brain freeze to pick up the ball behind the rugby 22m line rather than the edge of his penalty area could have had serious consequences.

The markings from the Dragons, who share the ground with Newport, were clearly visible after the rain had washed away the green paint used to cover the lines.

The keeper’s confusion was understandable - as was the furious reaction of the home team and crowd when referee Sam Allison opted to punish him with a yellow card rather than the red one.

It was all about the interpretation of the situation.

Newport will argue that Charlie McNeill was closing down Lewis fast and was therefore robbed of a goalscoring opportunity.

From City’s point of view, Sam Stubbs was in the vicinity trying to shield the on-loan Manchester United youngster away from the ball as it ran through to the goalie.

Interestingly, the assessor watching from the stand felt the referee should have sent Lewis on his way.

“Just apply the letter of the law” was certainly how Newport boss Graham Coughlan saw it.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mark Hughes felt a booking was the right call for Harry LewisMark Hughes felt a booking was the right call for Harry Lewis (Image: Thomas Gadd)

Hughes, though, was happy to praise Allison for his “common sense” approach - something of a rare commodity among League Two whistle-blowers this season.

Seeing the standard of some of those officiating at games so far, nobody could say with any confidence what the decision would be.

But Lewis remained - and remained largely untroubled barring a few unseemly scrambles in the City box.

He was stretched only once to keep out Cameron Norman’s header from a corner - Newport’s stock in trade that has accounted for nearly half of their goal tally.

Joe Day was no busier at the other end. Having been well beaten by Andy Cook’s strike, he did well to deny Stubbs a quickfire second before a far more comfortable save from Dara Costelloe’s half-hit shot later in the game.

Costelloe did claim an assist for Cook as Hughes kept faith with the same line-up for the entire five-game run of the last two weeks.

The Burnley youngster did enough to put off centre half Priestley Farquharson to smuggle a long ball into the path of his deadly strike partner.

But Costelloe faded from that point as he had done at Walsall.

With no striking back-up fit enough to make the bench - a situation that hopefully will be rectified for Hartlepool’s visit next weekend - he got another lengthy run-out. But he desperately needs that elusive first senior goal.

City’s attacking ambitions centred around Cook as always and he made his 23rd goal of the campaign, and a division-topping 20th in the league, look straightforward when it was anything but.

He left Mickey Demetriou in a heap before nonchalantly firing across Day into the bottom corner.

At that stage, given how miserly the Bantams have been on their travels, you wouldn’t have backed a Newport response.

But geed up after the break, they earned the good fortune when Demetriou’s cross flicked off Ridehalgh and took a convenient bounce to deceive the diving Lewis.

The atmosphere, while never the frenzy of hate that greeted Derek Adams on City’s previous visit, intensified sufficiently to make for an awkward finale.

The painfully out-of-synch drummer in the main stand battered away as his team tried to do the same but real sights of goal were still at a premium.

City saw it out, if sometimes in ungainly fashion, to ensure they took some reward from another gruelling journey. But those tired limbs and minds look in need of a refresh.