The Exiles Carabao Cup exploits are over, following a 5-1 defeat to Leeds United in the second round.
In a first-half dominated by County, Joss Labadie gave the Exiles the lead on 33 minutes, his 25-yard effort somehow squirming under Rob Green.
But Kemar Roofe, so often the bane to County during his days with Oxford United, scored a hat-trick to take the game away from the Exiles.
His first came just before half-time with a composed finish in a crowded area, before netting just after half-time to give Leeds the lead.
Roofe completed his hat-trick with a fine overhead kick, before being taken off to a standing ovation by the home support.
Substitute Samu Saiz added the fourth, firing home from just inside the area on 77 minutes.
Ronaldo Vieira completed the scoring on 89 minutes, firing in off the post.
Exiles manager Mike Flynn elected to make three changes to Saturday’s winning side at Coventry. That saw the Exiles keep to their 4-2-3-1 formation, with Lamar Reynolds and goal scorer from the first round Shawn McCoulsky, both coming in up-front, in place of Joe Quigley and Reece Cole. Sean Rigg came into the midfield, in place of Frank Nouble to complete the three changes.
Leeds boss Thomas Christiansen made nine changes to his team that beat Sunderland 2-0 on the weekend. That saw only Luke Ayling and Vernon Anita keep their places, as the home side also set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. It was, however, just the four changes from the side that defeated Port Vale 4-1 in the first-round of the competition. A name familiar to County fans from his Oxford days, Kemar Roofe, also made a return to the Leeds side.
Within three minutes, Madger Gomes created the opening chance for the home-side. He received the ball 30-yards out, cut inside David Pipe and flashed a shot just wide that had Joe Day scrambling in the County goal.
The home side continued to press home their livelier start to the game, earning the first corner on 6 minutes. The ball came to the edge of the area for Eoghan Stokes, but the referee had blown his whistle for an infringement in the area on County’s Ben White.
It took County until the 8th minute to register their first shot, and almost took the lead from it.
Lamar Reynolds burst down the left-hand side and fed in Sean Rigg on the edge of the area. Rigg turned Conor Shaughnessy, and smashed a shot across goal which Rob Green did expertly well to turn around the post.
His strike partner, Shawn McCoulsky, headed straight at Green from the resulting corner.
Joss Labadie, the controlling force for County, was making several interceptions in the middle-of-the-park for the Exiles as the game approached the quarter-hour mark. Mickey Demetriou was also doing well to head clear several Stuart Dallas crosses, who was looking the biggest threat for the home-side down the right-hand side.
Reynolds fired a shot that Green handled well on 20 minutes, before Day made a good save to deny Ronaldo Vieira moments later. Dallas was again the architect of the Leeds chance, combining well with Mateusz Klich out wide, with Vieira trying a back heeled attempt that Day dived across to hold.
On 22 minutes, County again came close to an opener. O’Brien had headed a corner across the area which McCoulsky looked to have converted, only for Vieira to head off the line. Labadie fired wide just after, his 25-yard effort hitting the side netting.
On the half-hour, Leeds almost took an undeserved lead. Defender Luke Ayling fired a 40-yard attempt just wide of Day’s top corner, before Roofe tested Day with a low drive from just inside the area.
And just after, County took the lead. On 33 minutes, Labadie tried what looked like to be a speculative attempt from around 25-yards, only for Rob Green to somehow spill the ball into his own net.
Labadie would be the first player to receive a yellow card in the game when booked on 37 minutes, with Gomes being booked for the home side a minute later.
But just 90 seconds before half-time, Leeds equalised. After County had twice failed to clear a corner, Kemar Roofe smashed home from just inside the area.
Two additional minutes were indicated, as Vieira got booked at the start of the added time.
Demetriou headed wide for County, as the referee blew his whistle for half-time.
In fairness to the Exiles, they could feel aggrieved to be only level. They were playing without fear, and seemingly controlled the first-half. Demetriou particularly impressive with his aerial ability.
No substitutions were made by either side at half-time, and Leeds took the lead just four minutes into the half.
Roofe got his second, firing home from 12 yards after Day had parried a Dallas attempt.
Reynolds came inches away from an instant response, with Flynn retaliating by bringing on Frank Nouble, in place of McCoulsky.
On 57 minutes, there was a temporary halt to proceedings as Labadie and Vieira clashed awkwardly just inside the Leeds half, with both able to continue after treatment.
Roofe came inches away to a hat-trick on 62 minutes, rattling the crossbar with a clever chipped attempt.
Seconds later, County broke and almost found an equaliser. Willmott burst through the middle, but could only find the palms of Green with his attempt.
Then, on 65 minutes Roofe did complete his hat-trick. In fairness, what a goal it was. Roofe was found in the area by Ayling, placed a spectacular overhead kick into Day’s far corner.
Flynn decided to throw Joe Quigley on straight after to try to turn the game, but Dallas had a chance for the home side, shooting just wide from inside the area.
Rigg forced a good save from Green on 68 minutes, before Nouble fired well wide.
Ben Tozer came on for County on 70 minutes, for his first appearance since January, a positive for Flynn and his men.
Quigley was booked seconds later, with Klich booked for the home side.
Quigley then fired a header over with 17 minutes remaining, as County were still intent of making a game of it.
Hat-trick hero Roofe was subbed to a standing ovation with a quarter-of-an-hour to go, as Leeds brought on Jay Alioski in his place.
On 77 minutes, Leeds extended their lead. Samu Saiz was the man to get it, firing home from just inside the area to completely see off the game.
Quigley should have reduced the arrears on 82 minutes, somehow firing wide when in on the goalkeeper.
Nouble fired wide for County moments later, who were insistent on not going down without a fight.
County again had a chance cleared off the line, Demetriou being denied, before Leeds broke and forced a great save from Day.
Ben White superbly denied Leeds a fifth on 89 minutes, before being helpless to see them extend their lead. Vieira got the goal, firing in off the post.
Four minutes additional time was indicated, and Leeds saw it out pretty comfortably to secure victory.
In fairness to the Exiles, the scoreline didn’t reflect the manner of the County performance, coming inches away to goals on several occasions.
County: Day, Pipe, Demetriou, O’Brien, White, Willmott, Dolan, Labadie (C), Rigg (Tozer 70’), McCoulsky (Nouble 53’), Reynolds (Quigley 66’)
Subs not used: Bittner, Butler, Bennett, Cole
Leeds: Green, Ayling, Shaughnessy, Borthwick-Jackson, Anita (Cooper 60’), Vieira, Klich, Roofe (Alioski 74’), Gomes, Dallas, Stokes (Saiz 66’)
Subs not used: Peacock-Farrell, Phillips, Wilks, O’Connor
Referee: Ross Joyce
Attendance: 17,098 (631 County)
Next up for County: Chesterfield (Home) The Homecoming Match - 26th August 2017