Newport County AFC have started their CheckaTrade Trophy exploits in defeat after Michael Doughty’s late penalty was enough for Swindon Town to secure a 1-0 victory at the County Ground.
In a game where chances were few and far between, it was the home side who kept their qualification hopes alive when getting the game’s only goal with 14 minutes remaining.
Elijah Adebayo – who had been causing havoc throughout the game with his mazy runs – was hauled down by Scot Bennett in the area to give the Robins a great chance to win the contest.
Michael Doughty made no mistake from 12 yards, calmly chipping down the middle after Nick Townsend committed himself and went to ground quite early.
The result means County drop to the bottom of the group table having started proceedings in defeat, trailing both Swindon and Chelsea U21s who both have three points. Plymouth Argyle have no points thus far but are yet to play a game in the group.
Mike Flynn made eight changes from the side that sent County joint top of the League Two table with a gritty and hard fought 1-0 triumph at Oldham Athletic on Saturday.
Of the notable inclusions, Robbie Willmott came in for his first minutes of the season having recovered from the hamstring injury picked up in pre-season, whilst Cameron Pring made his debut for the Exiles.
There were also first starts of the season for Charlie Cooper and Mark O’Brien, Nick Townsend was as usual between the sticks for a cup game, and Antoine Semenyo recovered from concussion to start.
Tyler Forbes and Keanu Marsh-Brown also returned to the starting line-up – with the three players keeping their place from Saturday being Scot Bennett, Dan Butler and Jamille Matt.
That saw County set-up in the ever so effective 3-4-1-2 formation at the County Ground, whilst the substitutes bench composed another seven members of the team from Saturday.
Swindon Town manager Phil Brown named a very strong side under the knowledge that a defeat would virtually eliminate them from the competition and kept six players from the side that started on the weekend.
Ex-Exile Sid Nelson was one of those players to keep his place in the starting side of a 4-3-3 formation, whilst the team was also composed of notable names including Luke McCormick, Jermaine McGlashan and Ellis Iandolo.
The home side certainly started off at a pace that said they knew realistically a win was required to remain in the competition but despite some good spells in possession, the home side couldn’t really fathom many clear-cut opportunities on goal.
Swindon’s best chance came after 14 minutes of the contest and they really should have broken the deadlock.
Keshi Anderson worked the line well to cutback inside Tyler Forbes and burst into the area, but instead of curling home with his right-foot when the space was there, the striker elected to go with his left foot and completely messed up the opportunity.
Joe Romanski was the liveliest of the home players throughout the first-half, his runs causing havoc to the defensive line, but after combining well with Ellis Iandolo, the left-back could only see his shot blocked when trying to thread through the eye of the needle.
County were also comfortable in possession themselves, happy to play the ball through several phases on numerous occasions, but also found a resolute defence in their way when attempting to venture forward.
On his debut for the club, Cameron Pring used his lightning pace to advantageous effect when bursting past Kyle Knoyle on 16 minutes, but his shot was never going to test Luke McCormick in the home goal as it dragged well wide.
Keanu Marsh-Brown was another player impressing for the Exiles from his attacking position, but when he finally managed to get a sight at goal just before half-time, Romanski recovered well to block it wide.
Chances were certainly at a premium at the County Ground during the opening 45 minutes, but the Exiles were looking good when in possession, playing some scintillating stuff, and probably just edging things against their League Two counterparts.
Second-half proceedings didn’t quite start in the same manner compared to that energetic start of the opening 45 minutes as the two sides struggled to create anything meaningful at goal.
They were again both extremely comfortable to have prolonged spells with the ball, but could never quite turn those periods of possession into shots at either goalkeeper.
To try and increase the tempo in Wilshire, Flynn made his opening two substitutes with twenty minutes to go. Willmott – tiring on his return to the first-team – and Matt came off, being replaced by Josh Sheehan and Tyreeq Bakinson respectively.
Semenyo twice sent speculative efforts just over but it was Swindon who upped the ascendency following the substitutions, and they were awarded a penalty with 14 minutes remaining.
Scot Bennett was adjudged to have felled Adebayo inside the area after a marauding run from the striker and that gave substitute Michael Doughty the opportunity to break the deadlock.
The Swindon talisman – who had already scored four penalties before this one – made it five for the season when capitalising on Nick Townsend diving early to chip into the centre of the goal.
Swindon solidified their defensive line from that moment to thwart any County comeback in Wiltshire, as the Exiles suffered defeat in their CheckaTrade Trophy opener.
Newport County AFC (3-4-1-2): Day, O’Brien, Bennett, Butler (C), Pring, Forbes, Cooper, Willmott (Bakinson 69’), Marsh-Brown, Matt (Sheehan 69’), Semenyo
Subs not used: Day, Pipe, Dolan, Amond, Demetriou
Swindon Town (4-3-3): McCormick, Knoyle, Nelson, Woolfenden, Romanski, Diagouraga, Dunne, Iandolo (Doughty 71’), McGlashan, Anderson (Twine 71’), Adebayo (Alzate 79’)
Subs not used: Pryce, Henry, Smith, Taylor
Referee: Antony Coggins
Next up for County: Yeovil Town (15th September 2018) HOME