SECOND-HALF goals from Aaron O’Connor and Christian Jolley ensured Newport County maintained their perfect pre-season record at Weston-super-Mare.
The Exiles eventually shook off the pesky Seagulls thanks to a pair of close-range finishes by their forwards in what was another useful workout in the countdown to Wycombe on August 9.
County were in familiar territory against former Conference South foes, although plenty has changed since Dean Holdsworth’s champions-elect from Spytty Park moved to within a win of 100 points thanks to a 4-1 success at Woodspring Stadium in 2010.
Justin Edinburgh’s League Two side from Rodney Parade hit four at Southern League Division One South & West side Evesham and five at Southern League Premier outfit Cirencester but things stepped up a touch at Weston.
The hosts headed into the game buoyed by a 2-1 friendly success against Bristol City, a clash that attracted a record crowd of 1,465.
That figure was not in danger last night but the County contingent that did travel to Somerset did get to see their side boss proceedings in the sunshine on a terrific surface.
The Exiles were on the top from the off and looked to convert their dominance into a lead from the wide channels, with Robbie Willmott’s delivery a constant source of danger for the hosts.
One of the wideman’s dangerous corners was headed out from under his crossbar by home centre back Clayton Fortune in the opening exchanges and his right boot provided the best chance of the half after 30 minutes.
An inswinging free-kick found Aaron O’Connor unmarked six yards out and the forward, who in fairness had to react rapidly, sent a header crashing against the bar.
O’Connor then turned provider as County looked to inch in front approaching the break, his driven cross from the right headed just wide by the late-arriving Andy Sandell.
The Exiles, for who Adam Chapman and new boy Mark Byrne were neat and tidy in midfield, could have been a couple goals to the good yet headed for Edinburgh’s pep-talk on level terms.
But they took just 39 seconds to inch in front with O’Connor calmly slotting to the left of home keeper Luke Purnell after Willmott’s cross found him unmarked on the penalty spot.
The visitors kept pressing but couldn’t extend their advantage before Edinburgh emptied his bench on the hour with stopper Lenny Pidgeley the sole survivor.
Weston regained their composure and were close to levelling in the 68th minute when Dayle Grubb’s curling left-footed effort went just past Pidgeley’s right post.
Substitute Exiles forward Christian Jolley then earned a rebuke from his boss – “don’t you want to score?” – when he dithered when one-on-one with 20 minutes left.
Jolley’s response was to play a delightful through-ball for Joe Parker, whose shot past the onrushing Purnell was inches past the left post.
The keeper then kept his side within striking distance with an excellent point-black stop from one of his own defenders after a cross by the rapid and impressive Parker.
But victory was assured with 10 minutes left when triallist Jacob Cleaver did excellently down the left and his cross found Jolley, who netted on the half-turn.
There was still time for Mike Flynn to fire over after rounding the keeper and Chris Zebroski to somehow slam wide from in front of the sticks following more good work by Cleaver.
Weston-super-Mare: L Purnell, J Walker, O Barnes, D Grubb, T Jordan, C Fortune, J McClennan, J Mawford, A Fiddes, M Thorne, S Camper. Substitutes: J Llewellyn, M Thorne, M Armstrong, B Ash, K Gould, Z Burton, D Jackson.
County: L Pidgeley, K Feeley, D Jones, A Chapman, R Howe, A O’Connor, R Willmott, A Sandell, S Jeffers, Y Klukowski, M Byrne. Substitutes: R Jackson, I Yakubu, L Minshull, C Zebroski, C Jones, A Hughes, M Flynn, C Jolley, J Parker, J Cleaver, S Thomas.
Goals: A Connor (46), C Jolley (80)
Referee: Dave Ricketts