EXPERIENCED striker Dom Telford’s wondergoal ensured that Newport County AFC’s kids got the EFL Trophy win that they deserved after a 2-0 success against Plymouth.

On a night for youth, it was the 24-year-old forward with plenty of Football League experience that provided the telling moment, curling in a terrific shot from outside the box after 57 minutes.

That was followed by the clincher in the closing stages by on-loan Fulham forward Timmy Abraham – another former Pilgrim – on an encouraging night at Rodney Parade.

Telford has been a fringe figure since arriving from Plymouth in January but this much-maligned competition presented a chance for him to remind manager Michael Flynn of the qualities that led to him signing on a one-and-a-half year contract.

He did that with a lively showing but it was the youngsters who were most impressive on a night when County kept a welcome clean sheet.

The Exiles may have suffered a pair of heavy losses last week – 8-0 to Premier League Southampton and 3-0 to Salford – but this wasn’t the time for panicking and hunting results.

Flynn, back in the dugout after testing positive for coronavirus, and coach Wayne Hatswell stuck with the plan of giving the next generation the experience of action under the Rodney Parade lights, aided by a smattering of experience.

South Wales Argus: Ollie Cooper on County debutOllie Cooper on County debut

The reward was clear with energetic Aneurin Livermore catching the eye in front of a defence that was well marshalled by Joe Woodiwiss in the second half, while full-back Harrison Bright was full of energy down the right.

Added to that were promising performances by deadline day loan signings Ollie Cooper and Jack Cain; the Swansea and Liverpool midfielders showed lively flashes after the registration came through for the swiftest of debuts.

As expected, County rang the changes from Salford to rest up ahead of the home fixture with Leyton Orien on Saturday.

Captain Matty Dolan continued his comeback from injury with a start in central defence, providing some experience along with goalkeeper Nick Townsend, full-back Aaron Lewis, winger Robbie Willmott and striker Telford.

The diminutive frontman has been down the pecking order, and it looked like he was likely to head for the exit, but formed a partnership with Abraham.

The duo both started last season’s fixture between the sides at Home Park for the Pilgrims but this time they were in amber for a side adopting a midfield diamond.

Livermore, so impressive in the Carabao Cup upset at Ipswich, was given responsibility in the holding role with Willmott and the new boys joining him in midfield.

It was an even start with both sides having their bright moments without troubling the goalkeepers.

Livermore was to the fore for the Exiles, helped by the talk of Dolan, while Cain and Cooper were keen to impress.

County’s first effort of note came after 18 minutes when Cooper and Telford combined nicely before Willmott fired over the bar from distance.

Abraham then came close twice, first having a shot deflected behind for a corner and then having one unconvincingly saved by Callum Burton.

It was then Plymouth’s Ryan Law who had a pair of quickfire chances.

First he drew a superb save from Townsend at his near post, the ‘keeper strongly keeping out a powerful drive with his right hand, and then he fired just wide from the edge of the box.

It was a case of nearly-moments for the Exiles with Cooper getting the ball stuck under his feet when put in on goal by a nice pass from young right-back Harrison Bright.

The teams traded efforts as half-time approached – Telford denied by a smart stop at the near post and Angel Waruih firing just over from distance.

The County striker finished a lively first-half display with a pair of efforts from distance but was unable to break the deadlock.

The Exiles, with one eye on Orient, replaced Dolan and Willmott at the break with Iestyn Evans and Zach Maher coming on for a taste of first team action.

The Pilgrims should have hit the front in the 50th minute only for Law to head wide from close range after a cross from the right.

South Wales Argus: OPENER: Dom Telford struck for CountyOPENER: Dom Telford struck for County

They paid the price for that after 57 minutes when Telford was given too much time outside the box and produced a wonderful left-footed finish from the right flank, the ball starting outside the post and curling in.

It was a magnificent goal but was nearly beaten by a wonderstrike from Evans, who shot from the sort of distance that you shouldn’t and was denied by an excellent Burton save with his fingertips.

County were good value for their lead but the Pilgrims came close to levelling when an burst by Swansea loanee Garrick, which earned Livermore a booking for a crude attempted challenge, led to Oscar Massey flicking a header just wide.

The Exiles were living a little dangerously and poor marking at the far post led to Townsend having to flick a header away.

Plymouth were on the front foot but County rode the storm and clinched it with a lovely counter in the 85th minute, Livermore sparking an attack down the left that ended with Abraham calmy side-footing in.

Victory was no less than this County side deserved on a night that would have pleased Flynn and Hatswell but delighted the academy staff.

County: Townsend, Bright, Dolan (captain, Evans 45), Woodiwiss, Lewis, Livermore, Cain (Hillier 60), Willmott (Maher 45), Cooper, Abraham, Telford.
Substitutes: Ovendale, Bullock, Stokes, Williams.
Yellow: Bright, Livermore.
Goal: Telford.

Plymouth: Burton, Tomlinson, Wilson, Pursall, Garrick, Law, Randell (captain), Waruih, Massey, Shirley.
Substitutes: Baker, Mitchell, Garside, Rutherford, Halls, Jenkins-Davies, Issaka.

Referee: Tom Reeves
Attendance: 1,032 (Plymouth 155)