NEWPORT County AFC's youngsters went down to a 3-1 defeat at Plymouth as the Exiles ticked off the EFL Trophy for another season.

County, whose starting XI had an average age of 22 despite the presence of 41-year-old forward Kevin Ellison, suffered a third Southern Group F loss on the spin after being downed by Cheltenham and Norwich U21s at Rodney Parade.

Ben Reeves and George Cooper struck for the Pilgrims either side of a Joe Woodiwiss own goal to put the League One side in command.

County responded with a cool finish by Padraig Amond, after good work by impressive teenage debutant Aneurin Livermore, but they could not set up a tense finale despite some good pressure.

The Exiles, beaten on penalties in the semi-finals last season, headed to Home Park knowing that they could not progress to the last 32, nor would that have bothered them in this condensed, hectic season.

As such they headed to Devon with very green side with the result not as important as the learning opportunity for academy talent.

Flynn said after the FA Cup win at Leyton Orient that he would make as many changes as possible for the dead rubber.

South Wales Argus:

The result was a mix of experience and the very, very young with Scot Bennett, Kevin Ellison and captain Amond charged with helping the prospects through the game.

Goalkeeper Callum Brain and diminutive, busy midfielder Livermore made their debuts, midfielder Callum Ryan-Phillips enjoyed a second appearance while left wing-back Lewys Twamley, 17, completed the set for this season’s EFL Trophy fixtures with a third outing.

Central defender Woodiwiss made his fifth senior appearance – all in this competition – while on-loan prospects Bradley Webb and Scott Twine were in the odd position of being relatively experienced despite being at the start of their careers.

Plymouth had the same approach to the fixture and made 11 changes from their 1-0 FA Cup win with former Exile Frank Nouble leading the line.

It was Argyle that started sharply as Brain was in action inside the first minute with a superb save to tip a left-footed drive from Ryan Law over the bar.

County then had to defend three corners as the Pilgrims put the pressure on.

The hosts' front duo of Nouble and Timmy Abraham, brother of Chelsea and England striker Tammy, were causing problems with their running.

However, Brain was not called into serious action and the Exiles grew into the game. County were neat and tidy in possession with most of their good work coming through the lively Twine while Livermore was composed in midfield.

Newport had settled, yet were behind in the 30th minute after a goal that would have disappointed Brain.

Plymouth worked the ball nicely for Reeves down the left and he fired in a drive from a tight angle that beat the teenage stopper, who went down a little early, expecting a drive across the face.

South Wales Argus:

The Exiles responded well and, after Ashley Baker’s touch had let him down when through on goal, came close to a leveller when Twamley did well down the left and the ball fell to Ellison, whose shot from close range came back off the post.

Bennett did not return for the second half and the even younger County team were soon 2-0 down when a whipped cross from the right glanced off Woodiwiss, over Brain and into the net.

It was 3-0 approaching the hour with a terrific goal by the Pilgrims with Abraham’s driven cross from the right flank coolly slotted home by the impressive Cooper.

It was now a test of character for the young Exiles and they responded impressively.

Amond reduced the deficit after 64 minutes with a calm finish from Livermore's through ball and County then enjoyed a period of pressure.

The Exiles nearly made it a nervy finish for their hosts when goalkeeper Luke McCormick’s atrocious clearance allowed Amond an opening that he uncharacteristically failed to take before Ryan Hillier prodded in from an offside position.

That was the final action as County now enjoy a rare weekend off before going again in League Two and FA Cup action.

Plymouth: McCormick, Wootton, Canavan (captain), Nouble, Telford, Reeves, Grant, Law, Abraham, Cooper, Pursall.

Substitutes, Ruddy, Watts, Fornah, Lolos, Craske, Mitchell, Crocker.

Yellow cards: Nouble

Goals: Reeves, Woodiwiss (OG), Cooper

Newport: Brain, Twamley, Webb, Bennett (Bright 45), Woodiwiss (S Lewis 53), Baker, Ryan-Phillips, Livermore, Twine (Hillier 67), Amond (captain), Ellison.

Substitutes: Ovendale, Devitt.

Yellow card: Baker, Woodiwiss

Goal: Amond

Referee: Brett Huxtable