NEWPORT County AFC suffered a 1-0 defeat to Cheltenham Town in their EFL Trophy opener.

Manager Michael Flynn made nine changes to the side that stunned Swansea City 2-0 in the Carabao Cup.

He declared himself happy with the performance against League Two rivals Cheltenham despite the game being settled by Reuben Reid's header in the second half.


Ahead of Saturday's trip to Scunthorpe, here are the talking points from the clash at Rodney Parade.


Manager Michael Flynn gave a debut to 15-year-old Sonny Lewis in midfield and brought Lewys Twamley off the bench for a first taste of County action.

Lewis Collins and Joe Woodiwiss got the chance to impress as did Ryan Hillier briefly as a sub, while Callum Brain was back-up goalkeeper. Young loanees Brandon Cooper and Saikou Janneh also go the nod.

South Wales Argus: PROMISING: Joe Woodiwiss slotted in at the heart of the defencePROMISING: Joe Woodiwiss slotted in at the heart of the defence

That shows the value of the EFL Trophy and the youngsters, who are at different stages of their development, will get more opportunities against Plymouth and Norwich City U21s.

Flynn got the balance right with a smattering of older heads providing some guidance and the young talent can tap into the knowledge of the likes of Padraig Amond and Ryan Taylor both at Spytty Park and Rodney Parade.


County were mightily impressive when shutting out Swansea City in the Carabao Cup, when Matty Dolan marshalled the defence superbly in between Ryan Howkins and Mickey Demetriou.

From three centre-backs to a flat back four with on-loan Brandon Cooper partnering Joe Woodiwiss with Ashley Baker and Ryan Haynes as full-backs.

They made a slightly iffy start but settled and Flynn will be pleased by what he saw, especially after losing new defender David Longe-King to a serious injury in training.

Wales U21 international Cooper, borrowed from Swansea, was especially impressive and is an option for Saturday’s League Two opener at Scunthorpe.

Woodiwiss also did well and played some lovely passes; he is comfortable on the ball but, sadly, his height has to be a slight worry in a four.

South Wales Argus: Lewis Collins after a missed chanceLewis Collins after a missed chance


Flynn has some tough calls to make up front for Plymouth after his forwards impressed with their work rate and energy against the Swans before a new trio of Janneh, Taylor and Amond got their crack against Cheltenham.

All of them showed some nice touches with Janneh looking threatening when one-on-one with defenders and Taylor displaying good hold-up play as well as dangerous delivery.

It’s the finishing that will frustrate Flynn with Amond, County’s go-to man in that department, especially guilty of a poor miss from close range in the opening exchanges of the second half.

Combined with Cooper blowing an unmarked header from a corner, several blasted shots that didn’t trouble keeper Josh Griffiths and Lewis Collins firing high over the bar after working some space on his left foot in the closing stages, it was a disappointing evening.

Tristan Abrahams was at the double against the Swans but also missed two openings that he would have expected to bury.

County can’t be as wasteful in Scunthorpe.

South Wales Argus:


The EFL Trophy hardly gets supporters excitingly heading through the turnstiles but it was another eery encounter at Rodney Parade because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It's not really the football that I know and love behind closed doors,” said Flynn. “I miss the fans and the atmosphere is frustrating.

“The sooner that we are allowed fans back, the better because it’s a bit painful with no fans there.”

A crowd of 862 was allowed into Abbey Stadium to watch Cambridge United beat Fulham U21s in the competition last night.

South Wales Argus:

The U’s, County’s opponents next week in the Carabao Cup in Newport, have another pilot event this weekend when 2,500 are set to be allowed in for their League Two opener with Carlisle.

Aberdeen versus Kilmarnock and Ross County against Celtic will both have up to 300 fans in the stands this weekend as the Scottish government looks at bringing back crowds.

The Exiles will hope for similar in Wales in the coming weeks and months in order to at least get some socially-distanced supporters providing atmosphere.