SO, HOW was the opening weekend of the season for you?

Saturday’s six-hour, 325-mile round-trip to Mansfield to witness a 3-0 defeat for Newport County AFC was not the joyous start to the campaign that I was hoping for.

And the reaction from a small section of County fans online – even before the final whistle at Field Mill – just added to the sense of doom and gloom.

As I updated our near 7,000-strong army of followers on Twitter a handful popped up to put their usual positive spin on things.

“Emabarssing [sic] yet again, be a success just to survive,” wrote one.

“We just need to hope there are 2 teams worse than us this season,” added another.

They are of course entitled to their opinion and their glass-half-full approach is as valid as anybody else’s view.

But neither attended the game and you have to question what they or anybody else was expecting from what was always going to be a tough examination at the home of one of the promotion favourites.

I was hoping for a positive result but was not at all surprised to see the Exiles return home empty-handed, as many other sides will when they visit the One Call Stadium this season.

Another supporter, who was presumably amongst the 320 in the away end on Saturday, took a different tack – blaming the performance and the result on what he perceives as the club’s poor pre-season preparations.

“Mansfield quicker, fitter, stronger,” said the Exiles fan.

“Our lads still in preseason mode. Stoke U23, Chippenham, Hereford; what a joke of a line up.

“Mansfield played Sheff Wed, Sheff United and Derby.

“No wonder they killed us.”

This argument is undermined by the fact that County also played Championship clubs Bristol City and Swansea City in pre-season, matches that resulted in a draw and a creditable 1-0 defeat for Michael Flynn’s men.

Admittedly they were behind-closed-door friendlies but County don’t have the luxury of being able to play three or four games at Rodney Parade during pre-season.

And that makes arranging matches against bigger sides difficult, as explained by former chief executive officer Alex Tunbridge at the last supporters’ meeting in May.

“Lots of people ask why we never play Premier League sides,” said Tunbridge, who has now departed for League Two rivals Stevenage.

“Unfortunately they play their games against lower-league sides early and then jet off to the Far East, America or Australia.

“They don’t want to be playing games towards the end of pre-season, which is when we can get on the pitch at Rodney Parade.”

A ground of their own is another advantage – as well as the bigger budget and the larger fan-base – that teams like Mansfield have over teams like County.

Let’s not forget, although no doubt most of us have tried, that the previous trip to Mansfield back in February ended in a 5-0 defeat.

County were again well beaten on Saturday but they at least showed some fight this time and, while the Stags could also have had more goals, Scot Bennet was close to breaking the deadlock early on and both Padraig Amond and Josh Sheehan could have scored at the death.

“It wasn’t as bad as last season – we could have lost 10-0 that night,” said manager Michael Flynn, who bristled at the mention of online critics.

“It’s easy to criticise when you’re not here and, to be honest, I’m not interested in any negativity.

“The boys dug deep and put a shift in and it was a 20-minute spell that cost us.

“I’m not going to overreact and I wouldn’t have overreacted if we’d won either.

“We’ve got to stick together and we go again.”

Joe Day echoed his manager when he was asked a similar question.

“No one wins or loses the season in the first game so we won’t get too down and, likewise, if the result had been the other way around we wouldn’t have got too carried away,” said the goalkeeper.

“You want those first points on the board as early as possible but this defeat won’t set any panic off in the dressing room.”

And neither should there be any panic in the stands at Rodney Parade – even if the first home game against Crewe Alexandra this coming Saturday doesn’t go to plan.

With 10 new signings to bed in, and possibly more to come before the transfer window closes on Thursday afternoon, it may be a number of weeks before we see this team’s true potential.

They certainly shouldn’t be written off after one game, particularly as it was away from home against one of the division’s strongest sides.

It may well prove to be a ‘long season’ as some have wearily predicted but it’s far too early to judge so, for now at least, let’s lay off the negativity and give the team the support they deserve.