NEWPORT County AFC manager Michael Flynn believes his new-look team have proved they can compete with the best in League Two after out-playing promotion favourites Mansfield Town.

An early goal from captain Joss Labadie and a penalty from last season’s top scorer Padraig Amond put County in charge at Rodney Parade on Saturday.

They could have been further ahead at the break but a sloppy start to the second half allowed Mansfield to level through Krystian Pearce and Danny Rose.

New goalkeeper Tom King, who was at fault for the second goal, then saved a Nicky Maynard penalty before Jacob Mellis was sent off for the visitors and Flynn’s men could have won it in the closing stages.

The Exiles boss was frustrated not to have taken all three points, but keen to take the positives after the match.

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“We went through everything at half-time, including game management,” he said. “I praised the players, tried to fire them up, and told them what to be aware of in the second half.

“But you can’t give Krystian Pearce a free header in the box. I thought it was a sloppy header from Mickey [Demetriou] that caused the free-kick, which he knows.

“We were also too deep as a back line so there were three or four errors that led to a goal.

“Tom [King] didn’t have much to do all game,” he added.

“I thought he should have saved the second one but his kicking was good, his communication with the back four was good and his penalty save was good.

“I thought Ryan Haynes was excellent too, but I thought they all did well. I’m not coming here and being all doom and gloom.”

King and Haynes were joined by fellow summer signings Kyle Howkins and Danny McNamara in the starting XI, while Corey Whitely and Tristan Abrahams also made their competitive debuts from the bench.

And Flynn was hugely encouraged by the performance of a team showing so many personnel changes.

“I thought we were brilliant for 90 per cent of the match,” he said.

“We worked our socks off and were by far the fitter team.

“We created the better chances and should have scored more goals. We could have been four up at half-time.

“And, after our poor second-half start, we were the better team as well. So it was a dominant second half but we shot ourselves in the foot.

“I thought we were really good and it’s just a shame that those errors have cost us an extra two points.

“It’s disappointing not to win due to two mistakes but the positive thing is we didn’t get outplayed, we didn’t get cut open, we didn’t have any alarming things we need to work on.

“That’s a lot of positives for a team with a lot of new additions. It goes to show that our recruitment has been right again.”

Read more: Newport County 2 Mansfield Town 2 - match report