NEWPORT County AFC suffered a third successive league defeat for the first time since last December as Dino Maamria came back to haunt his former employers again.

Zak Mills scored the only goal of the game in first-half stoppage time to earn struggling Oldham Athletic the three points at Rodney Parade.

And, while the Exiles have progressed in the Trophy and the FA Cup in recent weeks, their League Two form continues to concern.

This disappointing defeat, after the losses at Colchester United and at home to Salford City, means Michael Flynn’s men are now down to 11th in the table – albeit with two games in hand over most of their rivals.

There were two changes from Wednesday’s FA Cup win over Grimsby Town with Josh Sheehan suspended and Robbie Willmott not involved at all.

In came Danny McNamara, returning after making his debut for the Republic of Ireland under-21s, and Jamille Matt.

But the biggest surprise was a change that Flynn didn’t make, with Nick Townsend retaining his place in goal and Tom King remaining on the bench.

It seems King’s call-up to the Wales squad is no guarantee that he will be first choice in League Two.

Townsend had earned lots of praise from the manager as he kept a clean sheet in midweek and he was quickly in the thick of the action against Oldham.

The County defence was caught out by a cleverly-worked free-kick in the second minute and Townsend had to be alert to save a fierce shot from Filipe Morais with his chest.

The Exiles were slow to get going in the damp and drizzly conditions.

Ryan Inniss did skim the bar with a header from a corner in the 14th minute but, for the most part, they were frustrated by a well-drilled visiting side who pressed hard from the front.

Matt failed to test Latics goalkeeper Zeus De La Paz properly with a couple of headers and, in the absence of Sheehan, it was Corey Whitely who shone brightest on a dreary afternoon.

The former Ebbsfleet United forward, who impressed against Grimsby, was the main creative outlet and was the only man in amber to worry the Latics defence in the first half.

Maamria’s men were growing in confidence as the game went on and it was no great surprise when the took the lead in first-half stoppage time.

Townsend did well to keep out Jonny Smith’s effort but the rebound fell to Zak Mills and the County keeper could only palm it into the net.

South Wales Argus:

Things had to improve after the break, but it was still slow going.

Scot Bennett’s deflected shot was well saved by De La Paz on the hour but Flynn had seen enough and he quickly sent on Matty Dolan in place of McNamara.

Tristan Abrahams then toe-poked a shot over from the right of the six-yard box in the 64th minute.

Captain Joss Labadie and the tiring Whitely made way for Taylor Maloney and George Nurse, but the hosts failed to create anything of note in the closing stages, merely limping to another league defeat.

County: Townsend; McNamara (Dolan, 62), Inniss, O’Brien, Haynes; Bennett, Labadie (Maloney, 68); Whitely (Nurse, 77), Amond, Abrahams; Matt

Subs not used: King, Howkins, Jefferies, Poleon

Booked: Labadie, Abrahams, Bennett, Inniss

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 3,748 (207 Oldham)

Argus star man: Haynes