Exeter City’s bid to make it four successive wins on home soil ended in failure as they were beaten 2-0 by Newport County.
Not since 1999 had the Grecians opened a campaign with four wins from four at homeand the early signs were encouraging against the Welsh side.
But once Conor Washington opened the scoring on 23 minutes, the Grecians never really recovered and Harry Worley added to their misery with a second goal 20 minutes from time.
The Grecians made two changes to the side that won at Northampton. David Wheeler came in for Jimmy Keohane, who dropped to the bench, while John O’Flynn started in place of Sam Parkin, who missed out with a hamstring injury.
Newport included two former Grecians in the shape of goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley and Billy Jones, who started on the left wing following his goalscoring debut for the Welsh side last weekend.
Exeter started brightly with O’Flynn firing a volley wide in the opening minute, but Newport responded straight away with Connor Washington’s shot deflected behind. Jones was given warm applause as he went to take the corner, but it went over everyone and drifted behind.
O’Flynn felt he should have had a penalty when he appeared to have his shirt pulled, but nothing was given. Exeter continued to pile on the pressure though with Gow shooting into the arms of Pidgeley.
The Scot had an identical effort seconds later which led to the same outcome, but if it was a highly energetic start Paul Tisdale wanted from his side, he certainly got it.
Harry Worley was the first player booked, for a cynical foul on Gow, while City had a huge let off when Bennett’s poor back header fell straight at the feet of Chris Zebroski, but he lobbed the ball wide of goal.
However, the deadlock was broken on 23 minutes. Exeter failed to deal with a long throw which fell at the feet of Washington and he lashed the ball past Krysiak from close range.
Exeter responded with a long-ranger from Sercombe that Pidgeley pushed behind for a corner, which the Grecians – not for the first time – took quickly and completely wasted.
However, it wasn’t as wasteful as Gow, who then spurned a glorious chance to equalise. O’Flynn did superbly to get free down the right and pull the ball back to Wheeler. His shot was brilliantly saved by Pidgeley, but with the goalkeeper on the floor and the goal at his mercy, Gow headed against the post and wide.
The Scot was certainly in the thick of the action and saw another shot deflect over the bar after a neat one-two with O’Flynn, while Michael Flynn shot straight at Krysiak with a great chance for Newport 12 yards out and right in front of goal.
It was a harsh half for the Grecians, who had performed well for long spells. The only thing lacking was a goal, although it was Newport that started the second half strongest. Harry Worley almost made contact with a deep corner kick, but the ball hit him and went behind.
Robbie Willmott stung the palms of Krysiak with a shot from distance and Adam Chapman saw his shot come back off the inside of the upright with a superb effort from 25 yards. Exeter had not got going after the break with an hour on the clock.
It was no surprise when Jimmy Keohane replaced Wheeler on 62 minutes and shorty after O’Flynn had fired a chance into the side-netting. However, things got a whole lot worse for Exeter on 70 minutes when they again failed to deal with a deep cross and Worley was left unmarked at the back post to smash into the roof of the net.
The response from Tisdale was immediate. Off went the disappointing Davies and Gow and on came Jordan Moore-Taylor and Jamie Reid as the Grecians switched to three at the back. Reid’s first involvement was to cross for O’Flynn, who failed to make contact, nor could Bennett at the back post.
Oakley curled a shot over the bar following City’s best move of the second half and Sercombe was also off target as time ticked away.
Bennett saw an effort cleared off the line in stoppage time, but in truth, the Grecians rarely looked like getting back into it after a poor second half.
Exeter City (4-4-2): Krysiak; Baldwin, Bennett, Coles, Woodman; Wheeler, Sercombe, Oakley, Davies (Moore-Taylor 72); Gow (Reid 72), O’Flynn. Substitutes (not used): Pym (gk), Doherty, Dawson, Grimes.
Newport County (4-4-2): Pidgeley; Pipe, Yakubu, Worley, Hughes; Chapman, Willmott (Naylor 69), Flynn, Jones (James h-t); Zebroski (Crow 77), Washington. Substitutes (not used): Stephens (gk), Burge, Jackson.
Goals: Washington 23, Worley 70.
Bookings: Worley, Chapman, Willmott
Referee: D Bond