NEWPORT County AFC suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time since December as they went down 1-0 at home to Cambridge United.

County were unfortunate to lose after putting in an impressive performance at Plymouth Argyle last week and they probably deserved a point from this game, though they were certainly far from their best on a frustrating afternoon at Rodney Parade.

Manager Michael Flynn made four changes from the midweek win over Leicester City under-21s in the Leasing.com Trophy with Tom King, Ryan Inniss, Joss Labadie and Jordan Green all returning to the starting XI.

Out went Nick Townsend, George Nurse, Matty Dolan and Tristan Abrahams.

Nurse and Dolan were not in the matchday squad but Townsend and Abrahams took their place on a strong looking bench that also included Padraig Amond, Billy Waters and Otis Khan.

Nurse’s absence and last week’s injury to Ryan Haynes at Plymouth meant Mickey Demetriou was deployed at left-back in a 4-3-3 formation.

Up front, Jamille Matt was flanked by Green on the right and Robbie Willmott on the left.

But, in practice, the wide men were dragged too deep and Matt was left isolated up front as 4-3-3 became 4-5-1 at times.

Both sides struggled to create anything of note on the poor playing surface in a tedious first 45 minutes.

County’s half chances came mostly from the long throws of Demetriou or free-kicks and corners from Willmott, with Green dragging a shot wide, Labadie heading off target and Inniss twice failing to test Cambridge goalkeeper Callum Burton.

An injury to Josh Sheehan, who was helped from the pitch with blood seeping into his sock after a heavy challenge, prompted Flynn to change things and he sent on Amond to offer Matt more support.

Matt tested Burton in stoppage time with a low drive that the keeper saved with his legs, but the best opportunity of the first half fell to the visitors on 32 minutes.

Kyle Knoyle’s whipped cross was headed back by George Maris for Victor Adeboyejo, but the striker stabbed a volley wide from only six yards out.

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County started the second half with more purpose and a tempting cross from deep on the left by Demetriou was almost bundled in by Kyle Howkins, but Harrison Dunk snuffed out the danger.

Labadie then lashed a shot over the bar after Matt appeared to be dragged down under a high ball in the area, before Green saw a shot blocked following an almighty scramble in the box.

There was another reshuffle on 65 minutes as deadline day loan signing Khan made his debut off the bench.

The Mansfield midfielder replaced Dan Leadbitter, meaning Willmott was switched to right-back, and Cambridge took advantage of a momentary lapse at the back to break the deadlock against the run of play on 68 minutes.

King could only parry a long-distance effort from substitute Paul Mullin and Adeboyejo turned the loose ball back for Liam O’Neil to fire into the bottom corner.

Abrahams soon replaced Howkins and he hooked a shot just wide 15 minutes from time as County cranked up the pressure, roared on by their frustrated fans.

But Mullin, making his U’s debut after a loan move from Tranmere Rovers, almost curled in a second for the visitors 10 minutes from the end.

And the expected late charge from the Exiles amounted to very little as they slipped to only their third home defeat of the season in League Two after Labadie stabbed wide in stoppage time.

County: King; Demetriou, Inniss, Howkins (Abrahams, 73), Leadbitter (Khan, 65); Sheehan (Amond, 26), Bennett, Labadie; Green, Matt, Willmott

Subs not used: Townsend, Woodiwiss, Gorman, Waters

Referee: Lee Swabey

Attendance: 3,336 (129 Cambridge)

Argus star man: Bennett