It was a bad day at the office for Newport County AFC as they suffered a heavy defeat at Oldham Athletic.
The Exiles were looking to bounce back after midweek disappointment and the early signs looked promising.
However, once Danny Rowe put the hosts ahead they took control. Zak Dearnley added a second before the break with Rowe, Thomas Hamer and Jonny Smith sealing the victory in the second half.
County made two changes from midweek, although one was forced on them in the warm up. Ryan Haynes replaced Scot Bennett, who missed out completely, in the original line-up while a knock for Jordan Green saw Padraig Amond restored to the starting XI just before kick-off.
With only five substitutes making the trip, Amond’s promotion to the team left Michael Flynn with just four on the bench.
Oldham made a fast start with Dearnley heading against the post and Smith firing just wide inside the opening five minutes.
But it was Rowe who was causing most of the problems. A Tom King clearance fell to the striker’s feet and he tried his luck from 40 yards out, just firing over by a couple of yards.
The 30-year-old crept behind the County defence but King came out quickly to narrow the angle before smothering the striker’s effort.
County enjoyed plenty of possession but struggled to churn out chances with Otis Khan’s ambitious volley, that nestled on to the top of the net, the closest they came.
Despite the intricate passing, Oldham opened the scoring from a Zeus de la Paz goal kick. Thomas Hamer controlled the ball and ran past a few players before Mickey Demetriou stopped him with a fine challenge.
The loose ball fell to Rowe, who skipped past the onrushing King and planted a shot into the net.
The goal installed plenty of confidence into the hosts and they doubled the lead with their next attack.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Rowe played a sublime one-two, which sent the full back clear down the left wing and his cross was pinpoint for Dearnley, who he played with in the Manchester United youth teams, to tap past King.
It could have been worse as the first half came to a close with Rowe sending Gevaro Nepomuceno racing through on goal but Haynes was alert enough to get across and clear the ball.
Lewis Collins came on for Khan at the break but seven minutes after the restart, Oldham added a third. Dearnley played Nepomuceno down the right channel and his cut back found Rowe, who made no mistake from close range.
Kyle Howkins came on just before the hour mark to try and shore things up with Willmott making way.
The Exiles did test the hands of de la Paz with a long-range effort from Demetriou but only after the Latics had grabbed their fourth. Ryan Inniss got a telling deflection on a shot from Hamer and it was enough to loop over King and just under the crossbar.
The hosts looked dangerous with every attack and Rowe went close to completing a hat-trick with only the post denying him the match ball.
With the clock ticking down to full time, Chris McCann’s through ball put Smith into space in the box and the attacker rounded off the win with a strike in the bottom corner.
Oldham Athletic (4-4-2): Zeus de la Paz; Thomas Hamer, David Wheater (C), Carl Piergianni, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson; Gevaro Nepomuceno, Mohamad Sylla (Christian N’Guessan 90), Chris McCann (Christopher Missilou 86), Jonathan Smith; Danny Rowe, Zac Dearnley (Mahomed Maouche 66).
Subs not used: Ellis Allen, Tomáš Egert, Johan Branger, Désiré Segbé Azankpo.
Newport County AFC (4-2-3-1): Tom King; Robbie Willmott (Kyle Howkins 56), Ryan Inniss, Mickey Demetriou, Ryan Haynes; Dale Gorman, Josh Sheehan (C); Otis Khan (Lewis Collins 46), Padraig Amond, George Nurse; Jamille Matt (Matty Dolan 75).
Subs not used: Tristan Abrahams.
Referee: Thomas Bramall.
Attendance: 2,912 (147 Newport County AFC).
Next up for County: Morecambe, March 7 (HOME).