County got off to a precarious start after Scott Barrow was adjudged to have brought down Marshall. It looked a soft penalty but Barrow may have trodden on the heel of the former England U21 midfielder. Marshall then dusted himself off and confidently despatched the spot kick to give the Championship side the lead, within the opening five minutes.
County eyed a revival after Brown was late and reckless with a lunge that ended both his and Elito's game; with Elito needing between '10-15 stitches' according to Feeney. County seemed rejuvenated against ten men and took the game to the Championship side, who are 50 places above the Welsh side in the football pyramid, with Feeney's side playing some good football. The midfield bosses the first half and both strikers worked as an effective tandem, as Aaron Collins worked the channel very well.
County skipper Byrne tested Rovers goal on the 20th minute mark with a venomous strike that was tipped over by Jason Steele, who was in the Great Britain squad for the London 2012 Olympics. After sustained pressure, that had not materialised into any clear cut chances, Bryne received a pass from Danny Holmes and drove a shot into the top right hand corner of the goal, levelling the game for the home side. Byrne then looked to turn provider as Connor Dymond ushered a volley into the outside of the post. County were buoyant but were unable to find a key goal before the break.
During half-time Rhodes, who has been linked with a £12m move to Sheffield Wednesday, began warming up after spending the first half on the bench. Referee Charles Breakspear had already lost control of the game as Welsh international Tom Lawrence committed two identical fouls in the space of 10 seconds.
Feeney's side seemed to lose the panache of the first half and seemed to struggle with the realisation that they were favourites going into the second half. The second half largely passed County by as they struggled with the onus on them to take hold of the game. Blackburn found their goal after Newport failed to clear their lines and a fine cross from Lawrence was nodded home by Rhodes.
In desperation, Matty Taylor was deployed as an emergency striker for the last ten minutes, as County's lack of a target man and outlet affected them in the second half. Joe Day was then sent off for a foul on Craig Conway in injury time, as County pushed for an equaliser. The dismissal was contentious because Conway was moving away from goal and there was a covering defender - but the referee seemed to have given it for a dangerous tackle, rather than denying a goal scoring opportunity.
It was a valiant effort from Feeney's men, who can be encouraged to his start to life as a manager. There were also encouraging performances from 18 year-old duo Aaron Collins and Tom Owen-Evans who were frozen out under previous manager John Sheridan.
County welcome Dagenhem and Redbridge on Saturday in a game that can be considered a six pointer.