NEWPORT County swapped the glorious sunshine and Wembley stadium for rain-soaked Undy Athletic last night as the Blue Square Bet Conference side got their pre-season under way with a deserved 3-1 defeat.

The Exiles might have wondered if the game would even go ahead with the deluge leading to a heavy pitch in which the ball didn’t run properly, making this contest somewhat farcical.

Not since the days of Joe Calzaghe and Robbie Savage on Strictly have Welshmen slipped and slided around more comically.

Manager Justin Edinburgh will, however, no doubt have enjoyed the competitive nature of the clash with Undy producing a sterling performance, particularly in a first half they utterly dominated.

Newport supporters were given a first look at new signings Alan Julian, Jake Thomson and Danny Crow from the get-go and there could be no question that it was Julian who most caught the eye, producing a string of saves.

There was nothing Julian could do when the hosts took an early lead, striker Jason Cave stroking home from close range as the Exiles were put to the sword.

It was one way traffic and it had already been a grim start for Newport with another new signing, defender Tony James, leaving the field after only eight minutes as a precaution following a bang to the knee.

The Exiles were struggling to find any rhythm and despite the appalling conditions it was an absolutely stunning acrobatic volley from a tight angle by Tom Hooper that put Undy 2-0 ahead. ‘Super Hooper’ is an ex-County academy graduate and he’ll rightly be a proud man today after his sublime strike.

Julian was continuing to keep the Exiles alive and on 30 minutes they pulled one back, substitute Andrew Hughes bundling home trialist Kerry Morgan’s centre.

Morgan appeared in tandem with another ex-Neath man, Chris Jones, and both did well.

The usual raft of substitutions followed with Newport changing most of their side, including the goalkeeper with former Merthyr man Ashley Morris given a chance to impress.

There was nothing Morris could do when Hughes deflected a cross into his own net and Ryan Charles’ ambitious freekick was the closest Newport came to a repost as the MacWhirter Welsh League, Division Two outfit deservedly hung firm.

Undy: Smallcombe, Sinder, Thompson, Heywood, A Evans, Stephens, Hooper, Cave, Barnes, Cullimore, Parry

Subs: Williams, Roberts, Lund, Gidney, Smith, Vers, Jarman,

County: Julian, Pipe, Sandell, Porter, James, Phillips, Thomson, Minshull, Crow, Morgan, C Jones

Subs: Cooper, Roden, Hughes, Binns, Evans, Fielding, Gwynne, J Jones, Charles, Hutson, Morris