The Exiles have been eliminated from the CheckaTrade Trophy following a 2-1 defeat to Swansea City U23s.
After a goalless first-half, Kenji Gorre opened the scoring on 70 minutes for the visitors. The Dutchman picked the ball up on half-way, burst through the County defence and curled a cool finish past a helpless Joe Day from six yards.
But the Exiles weren’t down for long, however, as Shawn McCoulsky grabbed an equaliser just five minutes later. It was the result of a perfect cross from defender Scot Bennett, with McCoulsky heading home from the delivery about eight yards out.
As the game appeared to be heading for a penalty shootout, Jay Foulston accidentally diverted a cross into his own net with just eight minutes to go as Swansea took all three points from the encounter.
That means the Exiles have fallen at the Group Stage of the competition for the second season running, while Swansea head to Forest Green in the next game in a winner tops the group encounter at the New Lawn, as both teams have already qualified for the knockout stages in Southern Section Group E.
Mike Flynn elected to make seven changes from the side that beat Yeovil Town 2-0 on Saturday.
That meant Joe Day, Ben White, Scot Bennett and Dan Butler retained their places from the weekend as County lined up in a 4-3-3 formation.
Calaum Jahraldo and Jazzi Barnum-Bobb both came in for their second appearances of the season, while Shawn McCoulsky and Lamar Reynolds started in attacking roles.
Sean Rigg, Jay Foulston and Tom Owen-Evans completed the Exiles line-up, with the Exiles requiring at-least a point to remain in the competition.
Swansea City U23s themselves made six changes from their last game where they beat Celtic 6-0.
It was, however, just the three changes from the starting-team in the last round of this competition, when they beat Cheltenham Town 2-1. That saw them name players including Jay Fulton, Tyler Reid, and Kenji Gorre from the off.
Neither side started particularly well at Rodney Parade in the opening 15 minutes, as the delayed kick-off due to a road accident was clearly having an impact on both sides.
Rigg dragged an effort wide on five minutes for the only real opportunity of the opening period, both sides making a tentative start to the game.
When the next chance arrived, it again fell the way of Rigg. And this one was of a much better quality, forcing away goalkeeper Gregor Zabret into a low save with a shot from 20 yards.
A mesmerising pass from White almost saw Reynolds get an opening just two minutes later, but after the striker connected with the 50-yard pass and looped it over the goalkeeper, he couldn’t quite get on the end of it and saw Aaron Lewis clear the danger.
That was all of the action for the first 30 minutes, County having the majority of the possession but only creating the one chance of note so far.
Brett Huxtable produced his first yellow cards on 32 minutes, one for each team, after a coming together between Owen-Evans and Swansea’s George Byers.
Reynolds fired straight at Zabret moments later, before Foulston saw his deflected effort blocked by Tyler Reid on 35 minutes.
Not even the indication of one additional minute could inspire either side into producing a further opportunity, as the sides went in level at half-time.
It would be fair to say that County had the greater portion of the possession, although the visitors did look menacing on the break.
Reynolds and White were the stand-out players of the opening half, the winger in particular looking lively when with the ball on the left hand-side.
As the players came out for the second-half, it was apparent that the conditions were going to play a part in the second-half.
In scenes similar to those observed at the Cheltenham game last month, it was certainly going to be a tough 45 minutes for both goalkeepers.
Having said that, Day comfortably held a shot from Adam King in the opening exchanges, before Rigg flashed a header wide seconds later.
An unfortunate looking hamstring injury ended Jahraldo’s night prematurely on 53 minutes, the defender unlucky to not see out a game in which he was clearly having an impact on.
Matty Dolan came on in his place, slotting into the midfield as Butler moved back to his preferred left-back position.
Gorre forced a fine save from Day with an angled effort on the hour, with the County goalkeeper seemingly getting a shoulder to it to put it clear of danger.
Rigg probably should have done better with a headed attempt moments later, as Swansea made their first substitution of the night.
Winger Daniel James replaced Jack Evans, with James having previous spent the opening month of the season at League 1 leaders Shrewsbury Town.
And James would play a pivotal role in the opener on 70 minutes. His pass sent Kenji Gorre on his way, who waltzed his way past the County defence with a 40-yard run through the middle, and when White uncharacteristically slipped in the area, Gorre had the simple task of curling past Joe Day from around 10 yards.
It was harsh on the Exiles to fall behind, but it wouldn’t take them long to find the equaliser.
Bennett swung an inviting delivery into the area from the left-side, which was inch perfect for his team-mate McCoulsky, who headed home from eight yards.
That was McCoulsky’s first goal since August 8th when he grabbed two at Southend, and he may have got his second here too, had it not been for a great headed clearance from Aaron Lewis.
And the Exiles were behind again with eight minutes to go, Foulston in-advertently deflecting a cross past his own goalkeeper inside the area.
In search of another equaliser, Flynn threw on Padraig Amond, who was looking to score for the fourth successive game at Rodney Parade, in place of Rigg.
Dolan looked for all the world like he would get his first County goal with five left to play, his 25-yard volley seemingly about the nestle in the bottom corner, only for Zabret to get a hand to it.
And despite four minutes of additional time being indicated by the fourth official, County couldn't find the equaliser that would have given them an outside chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition.
County: Day, Jahraldo (Dolan 53’), Foulston, White, Bennett, Butler, Barnum-Bobb, Owen-Evans, Rigg (Amond 84’), Reynolds, McCoulsky
Subs not used: Nouble, Tozer, Demetriou
Swansea U23s: Zabret, Reid, Lewis, Evans, Harries, Rodon (C), King, Fulton, Baker-Richardson, Byers, Gorre (Garrick 80’)
Subs not used: Brenda, Evans, Maric, Dulca, Bainbridge
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Attendance: 750 (65 away)
Next up for County: Forest Green Rovers (14th October) AWAY
Photo used not from the match in the report.