THIS was a match that summed up the season so far for Newport County AFC – a shocking start, a few shoots of recovery and then more self-inflicted misery.

Manager Graham Westley will hope that the signs of fight late on show his men are not doomed to relegation already.

A Matt Godden hat-trick wrapped up the three points for his old team Stevenage after 62 minutes before substitute Dan Butler fired into the bottom corner on 89 minutes to complete the scoring.

It means the Exiles have lost eight on the bounce in League Two and remain five points from safety and it's 10 games in all competitions without a victory.

Westley named a starting XI that showed six changes from the defeat at Wycombe Wanderers and there were four debutants.

David Pipe, Sid Nelson and Mark O’Brien came straight into the defence alongside returning captain Scot Bennett, who started at left-back.

Ben Tozer returned from a stiff neck in midfield and Jaanai Gordon started up front with Aaron Williams.

Out went Darren Jones, Abdoulaye Meite and Paul Bignot, injured duo Sean Rigg and Josh Sheehan and striker Rhys Healey, who has returned to his parent club Cardiff City.

And after three minutes Westley was forced into another change as Jennison Myrie-Williams was forced off after a heavy challenge and replaced by Butler on the left of midfield.

With so many changes in personnel it was no surprise that it was the hosts who started quickest and they led in the ninth minute.

It was far too easy as Steve Schumacher played in Godden to beat the offside trap and the striker confidently stroked the ball past Joe Day.

Stevenage, who had lost seven of their last eight home games, looked full of confidence and they poured forward.

Day got down well to deny Tyler Walker, the son of former England defender Des Walker.

And Tom Pett, who has been a constant thorn in County’s side over recent years, tried a curler from the edge of the box but didn’t quite catch it as he wanted to.

Day also saved from Ben Kennedy before the Exiles managed their first real effort on goal.

It was Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, playing on the right of midfield, who tried his luck with a volley but the ball sailed over Jamie Jones’ bar and out of the ground.

The visitors gradually started to get into the game and new centre-back O’Brien headed just wide from a Mark Randall corner before Gordon’s attempted overhead kick was easily held by Jones.

But they shot themselves in the foot once again three minutes before the break as Day was severely punished for a horrible error.

The County stopper rushed out of his goal and tried to shield the ball out for a throw on the right touchline but Godden managed to keep the ball in play and then found the back of the net through a host of bodies as Day scrambled back to his box in vain.

Day saved well at his near post two minutes after the break to prolong Godden’s wait for his hat-trick.

But that wait only lasted another 15 minutes as Butler felled Kennedy in the box and Godden slammed home from the spot to kill the contest just after the hour mark.

Marlon Jackson came on and looked lively and Craig Reid also made a late appearance against his former side but neither could inspire a miracle.

Williams’ fine finish into the bottom corner was ruled out for offside to rub salt into the wounds and Butler’s 89th minute strike provided little consolation.

County: Day; Pipe, O’Brien, Nelson, Bennett; Barnum-Bobb (Reid, 71), Randall, Tozer, Myrie-Williams (Butler, 3); Gordon (Jackson, 55), Williams

Subs not used: Bittner, Meite, Wood, Owen-Evans

Booked: Bennett, Nelson

Referee: Rob Lewis

Attendance: 2,185

Argus star man: Williams