Cambridge United suffered a frustrating 4-2 defeat at Rodney Parade, as Jamille Matt inspired Newport County to a fightback in Sky Bet League Two after Reggie Lambe had given the U’s a two goal first half lead.
The U’s lined up with three changes as Liam O’Neil, Louis John and Jabo Ibehre moved into United’s starting eleven, with captain Gary Deegan missing through suspension.
Joe Dunne’s men got off to the best possible start, as Lambe received the ball in an advanced position after a driving run forward by Jake Carroll, before the Bermudan international cut inside on to his right foot and picked out the bottom right corner from 18 yards out inside five minutes.
Newport were forced into a very early substitute as Mark O’Brien suffered a hamstring injury and was replaced by Charlie Cooper, who came close to stabbing in an equaliser 12 yards out on ten minutes for the hosts, only for a combination of George Taft and Louis John to deny him.
The U’s continued to look promising and on 21 minutes Lambe produced a magnificent solo run, dancing himself into a shooting position before caressing a shot beyond Newport keeper Nick Townsend to double the advantage and his own tally for the first half.
George Maris went close to a third and potential game winning goal for United when his free kick had Townsend scrambling towards his near post, but the shot zipped fractions wide of the mark.
The U’s looked to have done enough to protect their two goal advantage until first half stoppage time when Liam O’Neil was penalised for pushing over Charlie Cooper inside the box, and former U’s loanee Mickey Demetriou converted by sending David Forde the wrong way to pull a goal back for the hosts.
It took just four minutes for the Exiles to find an equaliser after half time with Newport danger man Padraig Amond turning in a whipping cross from Antoine Semnyo at close range.
The Welsh outfit completed the comeback on the hour mark when substitute Jamille Matt ran across Taft before directing a diving header beyond Forde to find the net and give the hosts the lead for the first time in the encounter.
It quickly went from bad to worse for United, as Matt converted his second header in as many minutes on the end of Dan Butler’s free kick to increase the Exiles’ advantage in what proved to be an unsalvageable position.
As a frantic period of the match continued, Reggie Lambe was millimetres away from pulling a goal back for the U’s, as his shot one-on-one took the slightest but most telling of nicks off the keeper to see it trickle away from the target.
It proved to be the only opportunity for the U’s, as the hosts saw out the remainder of the game with their advantage fully intact.
Newport County: Townsend, Butler, Franks, Amond, Bakinson, Sheehan (Matt, 40 mins), Bennett, Forbes, O’Brien (Cooper, 2 min), Demetriou, Semenyo (Pring, 85 mins)
Cambridge United: Forde, Halliday, John, Taft (Lewis, 65 mins), Taylor, Carroll, O’Neil (Corr, 83 mins), Maris, Lambe, Brown (68 mins), Ibehre
Attendance: 3,104 (111)