NEWPORT County AFC concluded their pre-season preparations with a promising display in a 2-1 defeat against Justin Edinburgh’s Northampton Town at Sixfields.

Former Exiles boss Edinburgh greeted new County manager Michael Flynn and his one-time captain David Pipe with hugs before the match and the welcome was extended after the match kicked off with the hosts not creating a proper chance until the 32nd minute.

On that occasion Billy Waters turned and fired over from 12 yards after being picked out by Yaser Kasim on the right flank.

But otherwise County, lining up in a 5-3-2 formation, easily matched their League One opponents for much of the match.

Dan Butler, Mickey Demetriou, Scot Bennett, Mark O’Brien and David Pipe defended well in the first half, containing the threat of former Cardiff City striker Alex Revell.

Captain Joss Labadie made a nuisance of himself in front of the defence, picking up a yellow card in the second half for persistent offending.

And Matty Dolan and Sean Rigg looked to get forward at every opportunity to help out the front two of Robbie Willmott and Frank Nouble.

Dolan tried a couple of speculative long-range shots before the break but neither troubled former Wales under-21 international David Cornell in the Cobblers goal.

Rigg also tracked back to help out defensively and he denied Waters a shot at goal early on with some determined tackling on the edge of the Exiles box.

Flynn was unhappy that goalkeeper Joe Day didn’t release Nouble for an early one-on-one but the visitors were happy to knock the ball long as the first half progressed.

Nouble was engaged in a good battle with former County star Regan Poole and the 19-year-old, who is on loan at Sixfields from Manchester United, handled the physical front man well for the most part.

Nouble missed one good chance midway through the first half as he failed to get enough on Willmott’s cross and glanced a header wide from close range.

He almost took advantage of a defensive mix-up later in the half but his shot was easily held by Cornell and Rigg sliced a shot well wide from distance just before the interval.

Lamar Reynolds was not named on the team sheet but he came on for the second half in place of Bennett, while Jamie Turley replaced Pipe.

And both substitutes were immediately into the thick of the action as Turley saw a header superbly saved at point blank range by Cornell and Reynolds volleyed over after being set up by Nouble.

At the other end Day was at full stretch as he dived to his left to keep out a Matt Taylor free-kick.

Reynolds then missed a second chance as he curled over the top after being released into the right side of the penalty area.

But it was third time lucky for the 21-year-old as he cut inside from the right before beating his man and slotting coolly under Cornell to open the scoring in the 68th minute.

The lead didn’t last long, however, as substitute Chris Long marked his debut for Northampton with a stunning solo goal.

The striker, on loan from Premier League Burnley, ran round three or four players before bending a shot in off the post from the edge of the box.

Flynn brought on two trialists, a left-back and ex-West Ham winger Zavon Hines, amongst a raft of changes and his side lost a bit of fluency and concentration as a result.

The hosts’ winner arrived six minutes from time as defender Leon Barnett climbed above everyone to head powerfully past Day from six yards out.

County: Day, Butler (Trialist 1, 66), Demetriou, Bennett (Reynolds, 46), O’Brien (Foulston, 72), Pipe (Turley, 46), Labadie (Owen-Evans, 72), Dolan (Barnum-Bobb, 81), Rigg (Collins, 84), Willmott, Nouble (Trialist 2, 81)

Subs not used: Bittner, Press, Touray, Williams

Booked: Labadie

Referee: Darren England

Attendance: 1,346 (80 County)