Newport County held their own for the majority of Tuesday night’s pre-season friendly at Championship Cardiff, but two late goals meant defeat for the Exiles in the capital.
Gavin Whyte and James Crole netted the decisive strikes in the closing stages of the second half, as County again played two entirely different XIs in each half.
Cardiff had the better of the play early on with Perry Ng striking the post with a header after a corner from the right before Vontae Daley-Campbell struck wide and Nick Townsend saved well from Ollie Tanner.
Townsend was called into action again just after the quarter-hour mark as he made a fine diving save to his left to beat away Tom Sang’s curled effort from the edge of the box.
County’s first attempt at goal came from a corner, but Declan Drysdale’s header was cleared away following Adam Lewis’ delivery.
Mark Harris would then try his luck for Steve Morison’s side, but his ambitious half-volley from 30 yards dropped past Townsend’s right post and out for a goal-kick.
First-half goalkeeper Townsend was kept busy by punching clear Tanner’s attempt from a tight angle but he only needed to pick up the ball when Eli King’s long-range shot took a nick off a body which took the sting out of it.
Newport did have two more chances before the half closed out. First, when Adam Lewis’ outstretched slide knocked Cameron Norman’s cross wide before a more enterprising chance at the close of the half.
As the clock ticked over to 45 minutes, Academy graduate Jack Karadogan moved the ball in midfield, as County broke from a Cardiff corner, and Karadogan picked out the onrushing Adam Lewis whose attempted lob over Ryan Allsop was grabbed by the Cardiff keeper.
FIRST HALF XI: Nick Townsend, James Clarke, Declan Drysdale, Joe Woodiwiss, Cameron Norman, Scot Bennett, Robbie Willmott (C), Jack Karadogan, Adam Lewis, Lewis Collins, Omar Bogle
Cardiff had the first chance of the second half, but Harris again shot off target as his strike from the edge of the box fizzed over Joe Day’s crossbar.
Offrande Zanzala had a promising opportunity to put the Exiles ahead midway through the second period after he used his strength to win the ball off keeper Allsop.
Cardiff had time to regroup though and, with both Allsop and Cardiff defenders to beat, Zanzala attempted to jink away from bodies before trying the lob that dropped over the bar.
The second half packed most of its action into the final 15 minute though, with County coming close 14 minutes from time.
Zanzala utilised his pace to break free on the left of the Cardiff box and his low ball across the face of goal was only a fraction out of reach for the outstretched boot of Chanka Zimba who would’ve scored were it not for a few centimetres.
That might have been the catalyst Cardiff needed as, a minute later – in the 77th minute, they were 1-0 up after a swift counter-attack was tucked home by Whyte after Crole’s low ball across the area.
And it was 2-0 four minutes later when Whyte and Crole reversed roles with Whyte’s through ball being lashed home by Crole after he took a touch to steady himself.
SECOND HALF XI: Joe Day, Harrison Bright, Matt Dolan (C), Mickey Demetriou, Aaron Lewis, Sam Bowen, Aaron Wildig, James Waite, Will Evans (Lewys Twamley ‘87), Chanka Zimba, Offrande Zanzala