WAYNE Hatswell has challenged Newport County AFC’s bright prospects to learn from Arsenal’s young guns after a thrilling seven-goal EFL Trophy encounter at Rodney Parade.

It looked like the Exiles were going to take the spoils when they led 3-2 in the closing stages, a score that would have put them into the last 32 of the competition with a group game to spare at Swindon.

However, Arsenal U21s snatched an equaliser with five minutes to go and then a winner two minutes into added time.

READ MORE: Full match report

It was a blow to an Exiles side that mixed youth with fringe players after goals from Jordan Greenidge, Timmy Abraham and Alex Fisher looked to have secured a win to bag some extra prize money from the competition.

The young Gunners left it late, and Hatswell admitted they deserved the triumph.

South Wales Argus: LIVELY: Arsenal's Omari HutchinsonLIVELY: Arsenal's Omari Hutchinson

“We were hanging on towards the end and full credit to Arsenal, they played some really good football in an entertaining game,” said the interim manager.

“The score could have been a lot higher than it was with chances at both ends, but credit to them and they probably deserved it.

“They had some good possession and some good players, we rode our luck at times and Nick Townsend made some great saves. It was a big learning curve for a lot of our players.

“This was a chance for some players to get some minutes under their belts and we managed to do that, with a few at different stages of their fitness.

“It was an opportunity for some to get back playing after being left out the squad. The group [that have been starting] have done well, so they need to keep their shirts and it’s up to the others to work hard to get into the team.”

County also gave youth a chance with Joe Woodiwiss, Louis Hall, Aneurin Livermore, Jake Cain, Lewis Collins and Greenidge given starts.

“It was a chance for them to pit their wits against players of a similar age at a top club,” said Hatswell, who also brought on youngsters Abraham and Lewys Twamley.

“I told the players that there was a lot to learn from that, to go away and watch the clips, how Arsenal move the ball, interact with each other, bounce passes and do things really quickly.

“You have to admire it from afar but we were a young side mixed with experience and we stayed in the game.”

County played with a flat back four with midfielder Chris Missilou playing as a makeshift central defender.

“We’ve lost Priestley [Farquharson to injury] and predominantly play with a three and I didn’t want to keep pushing them,” said Hatswell, who is likely to select James Clarke, Matty Dolan and Mickey Demetriou at Exeter on Saturday.

“I asked Chris on Monday if he could do it and he said he’d do his best, that’s all I can ask and needs must. I thought he played really well.

“We did it with Matty Dolan a couple of years ago at Brighton and he hasn’t looked back since. I’m not saying Chris is in that category but it was a really professional performance by him.”