NEWPORT County AFC look unlikely to progress beyond the group stages of this year’s Trophy after they were beaten 2-0 at home by League Two rivals Exeter City.

Exeter captain Matt Jay scored a goal in each half to earn the visitors a second successive win in the competition and condemn County to a second defeat.

Manager Michael Flynn will not be overly concerned by that, although a win over Cheltenham Town in the final group game next month could still be enough to make it through.

Flynn made 10 changes from Saturday’s last-gasp win over Carlisle United in League Two, with Matty Dolan the only player to keep his starting spot.

Dolan, who captained the side, was one of eight players who started last month’s 5-4 defeat to West Ham United under-21s in the same competition.

He was flanked by Taylor Maloney and academy player Elis Watts in midfield.

Saturday’s goal hero George Nurse started at left-back in a four-man defence alongside centre-backs Ryan Inniss, who was returning from his five-game ban for biting, and Marvel Ekpiteta and makeshift right-back Dom Jefferies.

And Corey Whitely lined up just behind front two Tristan Abrahams and Dominic Poleon, who was making his first start for the club.

The trio linked up well in an entertaining first 45 minutes but they didn’t make the most of the chances that came their way.

Abrahams dragged a shot wide in the 10th minute before Poleon shot straight at Exeter goalkeeper Jonny Maxted after being released through the middle.

The deadline day signing then expertly brought a high ball under control in the box but stabbed his shot wide.

Inniss headed straight at Maxted from a corner and the Exeter stopper also denied Maloney, Poleon and Abrahams before the break.

The visitors, who also made 10 changes from their weekend draw at Crewe Alexandra, started slowly and didn’t threaten the Exiles at all in the opening 20 minutes.

But they soon got into their stride and Inniss had to be alert to block a Jayden Richardson shot before Nigel Atangana headed wide from the corner.

Nick Townsend made his first proper save in the 38th minute when he tipped over a header from Alex Fisher and two minutes later the County goalkeeper was picking the ball out of his net.

Grecians skipper Jay played a neat one-two with Atangana before firing low past Townsend from the edge of the area to break the deadlock five minutes before half-time.

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Ryan George replaced fellow youngster Watts for the second half and the debutant slotted in at right-back, allowing Jefferies to move into his preferred midfield role.

Exeter almost extended their lead four minutes after the restart but Townsend tipped another Fisher header over the bar.

At the other end, Nurse tried another long-distance piledriver from a similar spot to his spectacular weekend winner but lightning didn’t strike twice and his effort was blocked.

Dolan almost converted a tempting cross from Jefferies but his shot was deflected just wide of the post by Ben Seymour.

Nurse clearly fancied being the hero again and he came mighty close to levelling with another long-range effort that was well saved by Maxted.

The Bristol City loanee then volleyed wide from the corner as County pushed for a deserved equaliser.

But Jay settled the contest with another quality strike as he fired into the top corner 18 minutes from time.

County: Townsend; Jefferies, Ekpiteta, Inniss, Nurse; Maloney (Evans, 75), Dolan, Watts (George, 46); Whitely; Poleon, Abrahams (Hillier, 77)

Subs not used: King, Haynes, Bennett, Amond

Referee: Lee Swabey

Attendance: 635 (47 Exeter)

Argus star man: Jefferies