NEWPORT County bowed out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the first hurdle last night as their much-changed line-up was outclassed by League One Swindon Town.

Goals either side of the interval by Jon Obika and Andy Williams were enough for the visitors, County finishing strongly and pulling back a goal through Yan Klukowski but in truth second best in a cup competition that is far from a priority.

The Exiles made five changes from the side who drew back-to-back away games at Tranmere and Shrewsbury in League Two, only one less than the maximum of six permitted by the rules of this competition that is still seen by most as more of a hindrance than a help in an already congested campaign.

Edinburgh opted to blood youngster Regan Poole from the start – and the list of scouts coming to watch him currently amounts to a similar word count to a Tolstoy novel – with Adam Chapman surprisingly selected as an orthodox sweeper with Andrew Hughes suspended and Ismail Yakubu injured.

Chapman’s passing was a welcome addition to the County backline but he was missed from the midfield, especially in the absence of Mark Byrne and the visitors looked more familiar and more assured as the first half went on. County’s task was made even harder with Mike Flynn forced off by a hamstring injury inside ten minutes and youth team replacement Aaron Collins was also forced off after a smash to the face, a bad night for Newport worse still in the second half with Ryan Jackson the third player forced off injured.

The Exiles went close twice before the break – both chances falling to Christian Jolley who couldn’t take advantage – but there was little doubting the Robins deserved their slender half time advantage.

Former Spurs striker Jon Obika had already blasted a comedy effort to the corner flag from just 12-yards with the goal at his mercy and Jake Reeves had rattled the crossbar before County’s first major let-off, ex-Newport loanee George Barker seeing his goalbound effort cleared by Chapman almost off the line.

However, County cracked just before the interval, the League One side ahead when they Newport failed to clear a cross from the right, Obika able to provide the key touch to divert the ball home to the delight of the large away contingent that eclipsed the home attendance.

The Exiles sent for Joe Pigott at half time and boldly played both 4-3-3 and 3-4-3 as the contest wore-on, but there was little change to the pattern of play with the visitors comfortable enough.

County are learning the tough way that you must take your chances and they should have earned parity just before the hour, but Aaron O’Connor headed wide from Jolley’s pinpoint centre.

And it was a costly moment, the Exiles pushing further and further for an equaliser until they were inevitably hit on the counter attack, Andy Williams beating the offside trap and lobbing Day to secure the M4 bragging rights.

Joe Pigott headed inches over as Newport pushed as much as they could for at least a consolation and it came with two minutes to go, O’Connor’s cross tapped home by Yan Klukowski.

However, Newport couldn’t quite muster a leveller and might have conceded a third, had Barker not rattled the woodwork, before they nearly stole a penalty shoot-out twice in a frantic injury time, goalkeeper Tyrell Belford performing heroics to deny Pigott and then Jolley as the visitors just held firm.

Newport County: Day, Jackson (Zebroski 60), Poole, Sandell, Willmott, Flynn (Collins 9, Pigott 46), Chapman, Minshull, Klukowski, O’Connor, Jolley

Subs not used: Pidgeley, Owen-Evans

Booked: Klukowski, Zebroski

Swindon Town: Belford, Lelan, Thompson N, Turnbull, Byrne (Barker 13), Barthram, Reeves, Thompson L (Rodgers 58), Smith B (Waldon 70), Obika, Williams

Subs not used: Marshall, Foderingham

Booked: Rodgers

Referee: Patrick Miller

Attendance: 1822