INJURY-HIT Newport County AFC drew a blank for the fourth consecutive league match as they went down to 1-0 defeat at Mansfield Town.

County have now played almost seven hours of League Two football without scoring and they’re down to 16th in the table after a third defeat in four games.

The number of players sidelined made life extremely difficult for Michael Flynn’s men, as did the extremely blustery conditions and saturated playing surface.

But they failed to hit the target all afternoon and one defensive error allowed lowly Mansfield to chalk up a morale-boosting victory in their battle at the wrong end of the table.

With Dan Leadbitter injured and Otis Khan ineligible against his parent club, Robbie Willmott and Padraig Amond returned to the starting XI.

And Flynn, who was also without Mark O’Brien, Ryan Haynes, George Nurse, Ashley Baker, Josh Sheehan and Nick Townsend, opted to replace Jamille Matt with Tristan Abrahams.

Matty Dolan was the one man to make it out of the treatment room to join Matt on a five-man bench for the Exiles alongside Kyle Howkins and youngsters Lewis Collins and Joe Woodiwiss.

County started quite brightly on a grim day in the East Midlands, forcing a corner that the hosts struggled to clear in the first minute.

Mickey Demetriou, Jordan Green and Dale Gorman then all tried their luck from outside the area without hitting the target as the visitors enjoyed most of the play in the opening 20 minutes.

Green then wasted a golden opportunity of a breakaway goal as he pounced on a sliced clearance from Harry Charsley but ignored Abrahams, who was free on the left, and was crowded out in the middle as he went for glory on his own.

That proved costly five minutes later when a mistake from Demetriou led to the opening goal for the hosts.

Demetriou miskicked horribly as he shaped to float the ball into the Mansfield box and the hosts broke upfield quickly.

Demetriou got back to block the initial shot from Nicky Maynard but the ball broke for Danny Rose on the edge of the area and he hammered it low and hard to beat Tom King.

The Stags, who looked there for the taking before that moment, soon grew in confidence and began to dominate proceedings.

King, a virtual spectator for the opening quarter, had to be alert to deny Rose on two occasions and Maynard before the break.

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Abrahams looked lost on the left wing and he was replaced by Collins for the start of the second half.

Inniss, who had been County’s best performer in the first 45 minutes, was booked for a robust challenge five minutes after the restart and Flynn’s men were glad to see Will Tomlinson’s free-kick sail high over the bar.

King again got down well to keep out a Krystian Pearce effort just before the hour and then dived at full stretch to his right to stop Rose’s header as Mansfield continued to make most of the running.

Flynn withdrew Billy Waters, who had started up front alongside Amond, and his replacement Matt almost made an instant impact as he teed up Gorman for a shot that was just wide of the mark from 15 yards.

County didn’t let the Stags rest on their laurels in the closing stages, but they rarely looked like ending their barren run in front of goal and one was enough for the hosts to take all three points.

County: King; Willmott, Inniss, Bennett, Demetriou; Green, Gorman (Dolan, 78), Labadie, Abrahams (Collins, 46); Amond, Waters (Matt, 58)

Subs not used: Howkins, Woodiwiss

Booked: Inniss, Dolan

Referee: Dean Whitestone

Attendance: 3,653 (111 County)

Argus star man: King