NEWPORT County AFC were edged out 2-1 in a tight League Two clash with Mansfield at Field Mill.

The Exiles were behind when George Maris’ shot slipped past goalkeeper Joe Day but Robbie Willmott soon levelled when he lobbed in after racing onto a bouncing long ball.

However, the Stags led 2-1 at the break thanks to Ollie Clarke’s powerful finish from a flick-on.

County pushed in the second half but couldn’t level and suffered a first loss of the season.

Here are the talking points from Field Mill…

South Wales Argus: ENERGY: Chris Missilou drives forward for Newport CountyENERGY: Chris Missilou drives forward for Newport County


This was always going to a tough game against a Mansfield side who showed signs of being on the up under Nigel Clough at the end of last season before the experienced boss got a first pre-season in charge.

Don’t be surprised if the Stags are in the mix for the top-seven and County displayed enough to suggest they will once again be contenders.

This was a game that they should not have lost – a draw would have been a fair result.

County conceded two poor goals, a howler by Joe Day and then getting their shape all wrong for a long ball, but showed glimpses of what is to come.

They fielded seven players that joined this summer after the Wembley woe, with two more coming off the bench.

Calm midfielder Ed Upson looks set to be a hit while Finn Azaz, on loan from Aston Villa, looks an exciting prospect that can provide some guile further up the field.

Christopher Missilou will be kicking himself for an error in the build-up for the opener but adds energy to midfield while Cameron Norman and James Clarke are experienced defensive campaigners.

Timmy Abraham, played as a solo striker rather than out wide, is raw and his youth will lead to some poor decisions but has the pace and tricky feet to trouble defences.

It’s impossible to judge summer arrivals after three games but they have all shown why Flynn signed them, now they just need to settle and gel.

South Wales Argus: BATTLE: Centre-back James Clarke challenges Oli Hawkins for the ballBATTLE: Centre-back James Clarke challenges Oli Hawkins for the ball


County fans would have gulped at 2pm when they saw a line-up that did not include either captain Matty Dolan, who is hopefully going to return at Tranmere, or Mickey Demetriou, whose injury is being kept under wraps by Michael Flynn to keep his rivals guessing.

The absence of Demetriou was especially worrying – he missed just one game last season through suspension and is the only natural left-sided central defender.

The last League Two that the 31-year-old sat out through injury was Bradford on December 7, 2019.

Flynn went with three at the back rather than the flat four fielded at Ipswich and the new-look defence performed pretty well.

The goals were awful to concede but stalwart Scot Bennett was fantastic at the heart of the trio, flanked by Priestley Farquharson on the right and James Clarke on the left.

Bennett was captain and led by example with some telling contributions, both defensively and when staying calm on the ball to get County on the front foot.

Dolan and Demetriou are crucial if the Exiles are to have another promotion bid but the way that their teammates covered for them at Field Mill shows the occasional absence does not mean defensive chaos.

South Wales Argus: George Maris opened the scoring after a Joe Day mistakeGeorge Maris opened the scoring after a Joe Day mistake


Joe Day might not want media duties for a while. On Friday Flynn said he was the best goalkeeper in League Two and the birthday boy, now 31, said he had returned from Cardiff City a better player.

Those statements don’t change after 90 minutes but this was not the stopper’s finest game.

That he made a couple of important one-on-one saves highlights how hard it is to be a goalkeeper – Day will be judged by one early lapse.

Mansfield’s first goal was a shocker with Chris Missilou giving away possession to Maris, who was given too much time to have a shot.

It was pretty weak and should have been dealt with by Day despite an awkward bounce but he got his timing wrong and the ball went through him.

He responded well but will be feeling the heat after the error after the performance by Nick Townsend at Ipswich.

One error is probably not enough for Flynn, with the input of goalkeeping coach Jim Hollman, to make a change but he showed that he can be pretty ruthless last season when it was Tom King and Townsend.

There is stability between the sticks with one established keeper and a younger one but County have two quality contenders.

Competition drives standards up but it also means there is a decision to be made every time a clanger is dropped.

Day will probably hold on for Tranmere but there could be an opportunity for Townsend if he keeps the Carabao Cup spot against Southampton.


We're only into the third week of the campaign but the postponement of the Northampton game is timely because County have more days on the training ground and for the physios to work some magic.

Had the Cobblers game been switched rather than delayed then the August on the road would have been even tougher for a side who had a shorter off season than their rivals because of the play-offs.

County head to Tranmere and Salford either side of the home fixture against the Premier League Saints.

They are two more clubs that will surely be in the mix for the top seven so the Exiles can ill afford to be as generous as they were at Field Mill with the first-half goals.

Oldham, Mansfield, Tranmere and Salford away is as tough a start as they come, so Kevin Ellison’s late winner at Boundary Park was especially welcome to get points on the board.

In some ways this feels like a month to just get through unscathed, then County can really get going in September.

But if Flynn’s side pick up some more points in the north west of England in the coming weeks then it really gives them a platform.