IT WAS home to the first Roman fortress in Britain and, almost 2,000 years later, Colchester is still a hard nut for the Celts to crack.

Newport County AFC must be sick of the sight of Colchester United and the JobServe Community Stadium.

Michael Flynn’s men suffered a third successive defeat in the rain and the wind at the two-thirds empty new-build stadium to the north of Britain’s first city.

But County’s struggles in that particular corner of Essex go back much further with no win in Colchester since 1972.

Tristan Abrahams did at least score the club’s first goal there since Len Hill netted in a 4-1 defeat 46 years ago, but it was all downhill after that fifth-minute strike.

Abrahams justified his selection ahead of Jamille Matt as he raced on to Josh Sheehan’s perfect through ball and tucked his shot confidently beneath Dean Gerken.

For a brief period, it looked like the 180 travelling fans may get to witness an historic win with Sheehan, Robbie Willmott and Scot Bennett winning the ball in midfield and Abrahams looking a real threat up front.

But Colchester soon took control with Frank Nouble causing his former club plenty of problems, while Cohen Bramall, Courtney Senior and Luke Norris also clicked through the gears.

They forced the Exiles onto the back foot and soon they were defending far too deep with a 4-4-2 formation looking more like 6-3-1 at times.

Willmott and George Nurse, picked ahead of captain Joss Labadie, dropped deeper and deeper and Padraig Amond retreated into midfield to leave Abrahams isolated up front.

What followed felt grimly inevitable and sadly familiar for County fans who have made the long cross-country trek in the past.

Ryan Jackson took advantage of a slip by Nurse to level via a lucky deflection off Mark O’Brien and Ben Stevenson was also allowed too much space outside the area to find the top corner and put the hosts ahead three minutes before the break.

South Wales Argus:

Flynn tried to change things as Labadie and Jamille Matt replaced Nurse and Willmott after the interval.

“We changed the formation,” explained the Exiles boss. “I spoke to George. He looked a bit hesitant when he got in some really good positions. It was almost like he didn’t have the belief to carry it through so we changed it.

“We put Joss and Jamille on because we wanted to change the formation and try to get back into the game.”

It didn’t have the desired effect. The visitors had a go with Labadie missing two half-chances but they ended with only one shot on target and Senior wrapped up the points for Colchester with a fine solo goal 15 minutes from the end.

It was a turnaround that satisfied U’s boss John McGreal, who had seen his side beaten at home by struggling Morecambe eight days before.

He told the Colchester Gazette: “I thought we showed a lot of endeavour and character, after going behind after a few minutes after what happened last week against Morecambe we could have easily folded.

“We didn’t fold though – we got a goal back and we kept going, getting into the final third and getting our shots away so credit to the boys.”

For County it’s back to the drawing board as they prepare for a home clash with newly-promoted Salford City next Saturday.

Labadie will miss that match after picking up his fifth booking of the season at the weekend and Flynn may make other changes.

“We’ll have a look at it,” said the boss. “We’ll have a good full week of training and we’ll go again next week against Salford, minus Joss Labadie.”

At least they don't have to return to Colchester any time soon.

County: King; McNamara, Inniss, O’Brien, Haynes; Willmott (Matt, 46), Sheehan, Bennett, Nurse (Labadie, 46); Amond (Dolan, 76), Abrahams

Subs not used: Townsend, Whitely, Collins, Poleon

Booked: Inniss, Labadie, Haynes

Referee: James Oldham

Attendance: 2,955 (180 County)