NEWPORT County AFC suffered a double whammy at Rodney Parade after being beaten 1-0 by Northampton Two inn League Two and losing stalwart Scot Bennett to a serious injury.

It was a night when nothing went right for the Exiles, who trailed at the break after defender Jon Guthrie slammed home when a free-kick was not cleared.

County had failed to hang onto the ball, were going long despite the absence of targetman Alex Fisher and being outmuscled by a streetwise Northampton team.

The Cobblers sat with their banks of defenders after the break and challenged County, who are starting life without Josh Sheehan and were without his summer replacement Ed Upson, to break them down.

They tried to press against the limited visitors but did not create any real scares, failing to get the winning start they wanted on a run of five home games in the next six.

If a flat performance at Rodney Parade wasn’t bad enough, the Exiles also lost Bennett after he landed awkwardly on his left leg.

The defender/midfielder, always one of the first names on Michael Flynn’s teamsheet, was stretchered off and looks set for a lengthy absence.

South Wales Argus: Scot Bennett suffered a horror injuryScot Bennett suffered a horror injury

His teammates must now react with a big display against Walsall in Newport on Saturday in their bid to turn a strong start to the campaign on the road into an excellent start overall.

Flynn freshened up his line-up from the battling draw at Harrogate, adding some young legs to the starting XI.

Teenager Aneurin Livermore got the first EFL start that his cameo against Leyton Orient deserved while 20-year-olds Jake Cain, Lewis Collins and Timmy Abraham were brought in to add attacking threat.

It was a first proper start for Liverpool loanee Cain after the midfielder’s deadline day arrival was followed by a swift debut against Plymouth in the EFL Trophy while Collins, a mainstay of the run-in last season, was on from the first whistle for the first time since opening day.

County named their side at 6.45pm but the Cobblers, and the rest of us, had to wait another hour for the shape to be revealed.

The Exiles went with a flat four, as they had finished in Harrogate, while Scot Bennett provided the experience in midfield next to Livermore and Cain.

Robbie Willmott pushed up to get closest to the rapid front duo of Collins and Abraham, largely staying wide on the right.

It was County that were on the front foot in the opening exchanges, although admittedly it was not the most engrossing of starts.

Cain picked up some nice positions and drove one dangerous cross in from the left but neither ‘keeper was seriously tested.

South Wales Argus: CHANCE: Aneurin LivermoreCHANCE: Aneurin Livermore

If the Orient game was a terrific advert for League Two, the first half hour of this game would have had those watching on iFollow regretting their purchase.

Neither side were able to get a grip on the game and it was a case of sticking at it and not gifting away an opener.

Yet it was the Cobblers that got their noses in front just before the break with a very avoidable goal.

County were sloppy playing out from the back and Livermore gave away a free-kick that earned a caution for the teenager, and also yellow for visiting manager Jon Brady after he raced onto the pitch to protest despite his left foot being in a protective moonboot.

He certainly wasn’t hopping mad when the ball was swung in and Guthrie slammed it past Joe Day after it bobbled around.

County were no doubt read the riot act by Flynn and assistant Wayne Hatswell after a half that made their selection choices, and the style of play given those decisions, look daft.

The starters got another shot from the restart, although the manager would have been poised for changes if there was no reaction.

The Exiles wanted to get on the front foot but were pinned in by the Northampton attack and were getting little joy from going long.

Flynn called Kevin Ellison and Ollie Cooper back to the bench just five minutes after the restart but before they were introduced a dangerous free-kick was won by Collins after good work by Bennett.

Alas, Cobblers stopper Liam Roberts remained untroubled after Cain’s left-footed effort drifted a couple of yards wide.

It was his last action with the Liverpool prospect and Collins going off for Ellison and Cooper.

County finally got some encouragement in the final third but Willmott saw one drive from distance deflected over and pulled another wide.

But just as they were starting to press for a leveller they suffered the blow to Bennett, who landed awkwardly after Nicke Kabamba had forced Day into a superb stop from a downward header.

After lengthy treatment, Finn Azaz was chosen as the substitute and he prompted the first real test of Roberts with good work down the left and a cross that was headed at the keeper by Cameron Norman.

It was Azaz again that whipped in a dangerous ball that just eluded the Exiles forwards as the home start tried to salvage at least a point.

County got what they wanted when the referee announced there would be at least 12 minutes of added time but failed to build up a head of steam on a hugely frustrating night.

County: Day, Norman, Haynes, Farquharson, Demetriou (captain), Bennett (Azaz 71), Livermore, Cain (Cooper 56), Collins (Ellison 56), Willmott, Abraham.

Substitutes not used: Townsend, Dolan, Clarke, Lewis.

Yellow: Livermore Northampton: Roberts, McGowan, Sowerby, Guthrie, Horsfall, Hoskins, Kabamba, Pinnock, Koiki, McWilliams, Rose.

Substitutes: Maxted, Harriman, Connolly, Pollock, Flores, Etete, Ashley-Seal.

Yellow: Rose, McWilliams, Flores Goal: Guthrie Referee: Craig Hicks Attendance: 3,168 (161 away)