WHEN the final whistle went at Home Park, seven of the Newport County AFC players on the field had not been born when Kevin Ellison made his solitary Premier League appearance with Leicester at Old Trafford.

The 41-year-old forward had been selected by manager Michael Flynn to provide some experience for the EFL Trophy fixture against Plymouth along with defender Scot Bennett and striker Padraig Amond.

Ashley Baker and Scott Twine, aged 24 and 21 respectively, were in the odd position of being relative veterans on an evening when the average age of the starting line-up was 22, a figure given a big lift by Ellison.

“Was great to play for the youth team! On a serious note though, all the young lads were quality. Some talent on show, the future is bright,” he Tweeted after getting 90 valuable minutes for his bid to be League Two starter for Flynn.

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Ellison has moved to Rodney Parade after a career that featured an appearance off the bench for Leicester City against Manchester United in March, 2001, when late goals from Dwight Yorke and Mikael Silvestre earned a win.

Familiar names in that Foxes side - Matt Elliott, Andy Impey, Gary Rowett, Darren Eadie, Dean Sturridge, Ade Akinbiyi, Steve Guppy - would receive a blank look from the majority Ellison's Tuesday night teammates.

Goalkeeper Callum Brain and midfielder Aneurin Livermore, both 17, made their County debuts.

Callum Ryan-Phillips, 16, made his second outing after featuring versus Norwich City U21s at Rodney Parade in October while 15-year-old Sonny Lewis, who became the youngest ever Exile when he started against Cheltenham, came off the bench along with 16-year-old Harrison Bright and 17-year-old Ryan Hillier.

Lewys Twamley, 17, and Joe Woodiwiss, 18, started at left wing-back and central defence respectively and a proud night for the County academy was completed by 16-year-old stopper Evan Ovendale being an unused substitute.

On-loan Bristol City defender Bradley Webb, 19, made a second EFL Trophy appearance but is yet to make his League Two debut.

With League One Plymouth fielding a more experienced line-up, boss Flynn was thrilled with the performance in a 3-1 defeat.

County fell behind after half an hour to a Ben Reeves drive and conceded two swift goals at the start of the second half, a Joe Woodiwiss own goal and a well-worked George Cooper strike.

At that stage a thumping looked possible but the young Exiles rallied and the impressive Livermore set up Amond for a consolation.

“They did excellently,” said Flynn. “The young boys that came in did very well and the old players were very professional against a strong Plymouth team who would cause problems to League Two clubs.

“We are disappointed with the goals that we conceded but the overall play and the way they tried to do it was first class.

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“I was a little but surprised by how strong Plymouth went if I am honest but that was invaluable experience for the younger boys and it was a good test for the older players to get them up to speed.

“We had 14 unavailable through suspension, call-ups or injuries, so I had to be careful with the team I picked and I was delighted with them.

“They were really good. I know that we lost but I am very pleased with the way they went about it.”

Plymouth also rang the changes and gave some prospects a chance but their XI featured EFL regulars in the shape of former Exile Frank Nouble, Scott Wootton, Niall Canavan, Luke McCormick, George Cooper, Ben Reeves, Dom Telford and Conor Grant.

“We have given plenty of debuts now and they won’t get a tougher test than that,” said Flynn. “It shows them the level that they need to be at.

“It gave them valuable experience and they acquitted themselves really well.”

County’s first team are enjoying a breather after a hectic start to the campaign because Saturday’s fixture at Grimsby was postponed because of Wales call-ups for Josh Sheehan, Tom King, Brandon Cooper and Aaron Lewis.

The Exiles, who will lose their League Two top spot if Cambridge beat Barrow, are next in action a week on Saturday when they welcome Port Vale to Rodney Parade.