AFTER a textbook performance at Tranmere, Newport County AFC finished their August on the road with a shambles at Salford in League Two.

The Exiles had been pulled apart by a Southampton side that showed their Premier League quality to score an unanswered eight in the Carabao Cup but shot themselves in the foot in the 3-0 defeat at Moor Lane.

Priestley Farquharson and Scot Bennett gifted away possession for first-half goals by Tyreik Wright and Ian Henderson either side of a Conor McAleny cracker.

The Exiles played with discipline before hitting the front at Tranmere on the hour seven days earlier but were a goal down after just 38 seconds in Salford.

The hosts had endured a start to the season that belied the quality in their side but were given a foothold by County’s sloppiness on the ball and sleepiness without it.

The clangers gave Salford a comfortable afternoon and no doubt ensured an uncomfortable debrief in the changing room by coach Wayne Hatswell in his final game deputising for manager Michael Flynn.

The performance was as worrying as the defeat – this could have been another loss that required brackets after the opposition’s score.

It was mistakes rather than quality that proved to be the telling difference on a grim afternoon up north despite the sunshine.

South Wales Argus:

The Exiles were as poor at Salford as they had been excellent at Tranmere. They didn’t make the Ammies work hard for their goals or chances.

Six points from a tough August on the road is a solid return but this display set alarm bells ringing and a respnse is needed at home to Leyton Orient next weekend.

County made one change from the starting line-up at Tranmere with Chris Missilou coming in for Finn Azaz, with the midfielder and striker Jordan Greenidge both absent after featuring against Southampton.

The Exiles were only able to name six substitutes, although this season only three are allowed to be used and coach Hatswell still had all bases covered.

Captain Matty Dolan had to be content with a place on the bench after returning from a calf strain against the Saints.

County reverted to the flat four that earned a clean sheet at Prenton Park but conceded inside the first minute at Moor Lane to a Salford side featuring former Exiles Tom King and Liam Shephard.

Farquharson was caught out in possession and Henderson put the ball through to Wright, who calmly finished left-footed past Joe Day.

Gifting Salford the opener was shocking given their iffy form leading into the game but the second was a quality finish by a player who is lethal at League Two level; McAleny fired across Day into the bottom corner from outside the box on the right.

The forward, who moved from Oldham in the summer, will feel he should have made it 3-0 after 22 when he instead struck the outside of the post when another through ball had County in all sorts of bother.

The Exiles nearly had a lifeline when Missilou slammed an incredible long-distance shot against Tom King’s right post, earning the applause of the home fans for the effort, but Salford were soon gifted their third.

Scot Bennett was way too short with his pass back to Day and Henderson rounded the keeper to score after half an hour, prompting chants of “we want eight” from the Salford supporters.

Hatswell was forced into a dramatic change, both of personnel and formation after the introduction of captain Dolan and forward Timmy Abraham for midfielders Robbie Willmott and Missilou.

The Exiles switched to three at the back with Dolan calling the shots while Abraham and Hylton were tasked with getting close to the isolated Alex Fisher.

They finished the half on top and should have got some reward only for Abraham to handle the ball into the net when Dolan’s corner looked set to go in, or at least be nodded in by Hylton.

County were close to chipping away at the deficit two minutes after the restart but Abraham and Hylton were denied on the counter before Bennett’s drive from outside the box was blocked.

The Exiles looked much better with Dolan at the heart of the defence but there was another rejig approaching the hour when Farquharson’s tough afternoon was brought to an end, forward Lewis Collins replacing the centre-back.

Fisher nearly made it 3-1 after good work by Abraham on 65 minutes but the striker shot straight at King after turning in the box.

Hylton wasted a chance to hit the target from a long throw but County had four quick escapes approaching 80 minutes.

Brandon Thomas-Asante’s deflected shot hit the inside of the right post, McAleny scuffed from close range, Matthew Lund sliced when well-placed and Henderson fired over.

County needed to get to the final whistle without any more damage, either on the scoreboard or injury/suspension. Thankfully they did.

Salford: King, Touray, Lowe, Eastham (captain), Ndaba, Wright, Lund, Morris, McAleny, Shephard, Henderson.

Substitutes: Jeacock, Burgess, Turnbull, Mellor, Golden, N’Mai, Thomas-Asante.

Goals: Wright, McAleny, Henderson.

County: Day, Farquharson (Collins 58), Bennett (captain), Clarke, Norman, Haynes, Upson, Missilou (Dolan 36), Willmott (Abraham 36), Hylton, Fisher.

Substitutes: Townsend, Lewis, Ellison.

Referee: Benjamin Speedie

Attendance: 1,687, (277 Newport)

Attendance: 1,687, (277 Newport)