NEWPORT County AFC gave manager Michael Flynn reason for optimism despite suffering a 2-1 defeat to Mansfield Town.

The Exiles were edged out at Field Mill with all the goals coming in the first half, George Maris and Ollie Clarke for the hosts either side of Robbie Willmott’s neat finish.

County started the season with victory at Oldham Athletic and then beat Ipswich Town 1-0 in the Carabao Cup to earn a tie with Premier League Southampton.

They may have suffered a first loss of the campaign but Flynn wasn’t too disheartened at losing to a well-drilled Stags side.

The manager fielded seven summer signings and was without stalwarts Matty Dolan and Mickey Demetriou through injury.

South Wales Argus: GOAL: Robbie Willmott levelled for CountyGOAL: Robbie Willmott levelled for County

“We played quite well against a strong Mansfield team and ultimately our poor defending on the two goals gave them the points, because I felt we were the better team,” he said. “They were two poor goals to concede from our point of view.

“We have a few injuries and had to change things around but the way that we played against a strong team has given me a lot of confidence, people came in and did very well.

“It’s the second game of the season, it’s been a long week and the boys gave me their all. That’s all I can ask of them.

“We are a work in progress. It will take us a while to get to our best and all three performances have been good. Not outstanding but good, they have been solid.

“There were a lot of positives to take away from that game and on a different day we defend better and win that 1-0.

“A couple of times our decision-making let us down – we crossed when we should have shot, we shot when we should have crossed – so it’s just about finding that right blend. We played some really good stuff and got in some very good positions.

“The boys did well, it’s a tough place to come and while we didn’t quite do enough to win it, we definitely shouldn’t have lost.”

Flynn, who opted against giving an injury update on Mickey Demetriou to keep next opponents Tranmere guessing, is relishing a week of graft ahead of the trip to Birkenhead.

“We have a lot of work to do on the training pitch and need to rest up as well for another tough away game at Tranmere,” said the manager.