LEE Holmes' second-half strike sealed a 1-0 win for Exeter City over Newport County AFC in the battle of the top two at St James Park. Here's what we learned...

1. Exiles a match for league leaders

County may have come back from Devon empty-handed but this was still an encouraging performance that bodes well for the season ahead.

Michael Flynn’s men dominated much of the first half and set about the leaders and last season’s losing play-off finalists with a positive attacking approach from the off.

And, if it weren’t for some poor finishing and some questionable refereeing decisions, they would have earned at least a point.

2. You have to take your chances

As with the defeat at Leeds United in the Carabao Cup, this was another match that hammered home the old chestnut that if you don’t take your chances when you’re on top you will be punished by quality sides.

Exeter are nowhere near the level of Leeds but as far as League Two goes there are few sides better than Paul Tisdale’s and one moment of quality from Lee Holmes was enough to win the match.

The Grecians had plenty more chances in the closing stages but Padraig Amond and Robbie Willmott wasted glorious opportunities for County and Frank Nouble was desperately unlucky to see a superb shot rebound off the foot of the post.

South Wales Argus:

3. Nouble and Amond partnership promising

No goals this week but the signs are there that these two love playing together and will create chances galore for one another throughout the season.

Nouble hit a hat-trick last week and set up Amond for his debut goal and he was the main provider of chances at Exeter with some effective crosses (above), while also hitting the post.

Amond was the chief culprit in terms of missed chances but his intelligent movement meant he was always in a position to score and he was unfortunate to have what looked a good goal ruled out and another effort cleared off the line.

4. Flynn needed different options from the bench

As well as Nouble and Amond played, the manager could have done with the likes of Shawn McCoulsky and Lamar Reynolds on the bench to offer a different threat in the final 20 minutes.

The pair both missed out due to minor injury concerns, while Marlon Jackson is still sidelined by a hamstring problem and Joe Quigley missed the match as he’s away with the Ireland under-21 squad.

The good news is that Quigley will be back next week and at least two of the other three should return to bolster the squad ahead of the visit of Wycombe Wanderers to Rodney Parade.

5. If in doubt, put it out

Some fans thought there was a foul by Reuben Reid on Mickey Demetriou in the build-up to Exeter’s goal but Flynn felt his defender should have cleared the danger before the ball got anywhere near Holmes.

It was a similar situation with Chesterfield’s goal at Rodney Parade last week when Nouble could and should have put the ball out for a corner or a throw but tried to shield it before being robbed.

Both incidents could have resulted in free-kicks for County rather than goals for the opposition but why take the risk? As the old saying goes: ‘They can’t score from row Z’.