A tough evening for a Newport County XI meant Jorden Gibson’s academy side lost for the first time in pre-season with a 4-0 defeat to Caerleon AFC.
Playing their fifth game in less than two weeks, the Young Exiles struggled for momentum on this occasion and only mustered a Tom Wright header which drifted wide inside the opening five minutes.
Caerleon AFC grew into the contest the longer it progressed and took a healthy two-goal lead into half-time thanks to goals from Ben Wooten and Jamie Davies.
Wooten calmly converted a penalty kick straight down the middle on 22 minutes before missing another fifteen minutes later, but his blushes were spared on the second occasion thanks to Davies scoring directly from the resulting corner-kick.
The half-time advantage could have been greater had it not been for two excellent stops from Louie Cirotto to deny Yousif Al Doori, while Wooten also saw a volley creep just past the post.
Into the second half and it was another dominant display from Caerleon AFC who wrapped things up as a contest with two goals in as many minutes just after the hour mark.
Luke Upham powerfully headed past Cirotto after some neat interchange on the left side, before Davies got his second and completed the scoring with a header himself from a free kick.
Caerleon AFC substitute Lewis Ford almost made it five late on but his effort from 35 yards crashed back off the crossbar.
Academy manager Jorden Gibson said: “It was very tough. It wasn’t great, lack of intensity, lack of technical quality and it was men vs boys tonight unfortunately.
“We were young boys out there who really got physically dominated. Disappointing performance and in truth, we got what we deserved.
“Listen, there’s lots of positives still and I think it’s important that we focus on that.
“Five of the boys played for the first-team yesterday so didn’t play tonight and they’ll be involved with the first-team at Bath City.
“That’s a really big positive for me. Tonight was an opportunity to get some more lads some minutes and gave us an opportunity to have a look at some trialists.
“Tuesday against Undy AFC was excellent and we had the gaffer [Michael Flynn] there to see the boys and he was here again tonight.
“It’s always nice when the manager gives some young players an opportunity because it’s important that they get it. All the lads involved at Shrewsbury deserved it and it’s always good to have glowing reports back from those involved.
“I think we should focus on that. There was five who played yesterday and there’ll be five who will play tomorrow and probably five involved during the season as well. They’ve got a chance to impress and they have to keep improving themselves.
“The friendly against Watford on Saturday is off now. We haven’t got the bodies to give Watford what they want. They wanted two sixty minutes, and we just couldn’t do it.
“Credit to Watford, credit to ourselves as well because we probably made the right decision. I know it sounds ridiculous, but we’ve had too many games. We’ve lacked in the conditioning side of things and we’ve focused too much on games.”
Newport County AFC XI: Louie Cirotto, Connor Graham, Luis Bates, Tom Wright, Mal Nicholls, Trialist 1, Lewys Twamley, Aneurin Livermore, Ruben Fahiya, Sioni Benham, Ahmed Albadr
Subs: Callum Jones, Joe Woodiwiss, Daeshaun Webb, Shai Smith, Ryan George, Callum Brain, Elis Watts
Caerleon AFC: Ryan Mackerness, Ashley Johnson, Gareth Bennett, Luke Upham, Jake Clark, Liam Head, Jamie Davies, Ben Wooten, Yousif Al Doori, Ross Oakley, Alex Waters
Subs: Sam Cound, Lewis Ford, Chris Keane, Marc McKay, Ben Siggins, Kev Al Doori, Richard Snook, Tom Mahoney, Dave Griffiths