Cambridge United fell to a hugely disappointing 0-3 home defeat at the hands of Newport County, as goals from Padraig Amond, Jamille Matt and Harry McKirdy punish the U’s for a flat display in Sky Bet League Two.
Colin Calderwood made three changes as Harrison Dunk, Gary Deegan and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy returned to the starting eleven.
United found themselves on the back foot quickly when former U Robbie Willmott curled a cross from the right on to the head of Amond, who made no mistake in registering the opening goal after four minutes for the Exiles.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy ran off the shoulder of his marker on 20 minutes and was played through by Jevani Brown, but Newport keeper Joe Day was equal to the striker’s near post attempt.
Alex Jones was forced to leave the field with an injury and was replaced by David Amoo on the half hour mark, with United looking more lucklastre as the first 45 minutes continued.
And Newport took advantage by doubling their lead when Dan Butler picked up possession inside the U’s area from an Exiles corner, and the full back’s drilled shot was flicked on past Mitov by Jamille Matt from six yards out.
Reggie Lambe was on the end of an intricate spell of play around the Exiles area but having squeezed a shot through bodies couldn’t find the target from 18 yards, as the U’s went down the tunnel at the break with it all to do.
The U’s continued to struggle to create much in front of goal up to the hour mark, but were denied a strong claim for a penalty when Rushian Hepburn-Murphy looked to have been bundled over ten yards out. Referee Ross Joyce was unconvinced though.
The Villa youngster was United’s best threat as the half progressed and he forced a fine save from Day at the Newport keeper’s near post with a snapshot from 18 yards in the 66th minute. Brad Halliday tested the Exiles keeper too with a shot on his left foot, but Day was again equal to the effort as the U’s looked to be limping towards a disappointing home defeat.
Dimitar Mitov was required to ensure the U’s did not fall further behind with eight minutes to play, when the Bulgarian stayed tall to deny Amond a second of the game and keep the U’s small hopes of a fightback alive.
Those hopes were extinguished minutes later though when substitute Harry McKirdy ghosted onto the ball inside the U’s area before slotting in a third and wrapping up a miserable afternoon for United on 88 minutes.
Cambridge United: Mitov, Halliday, Taylor, Taft, Dunk, Doyle-Hayes, Deegan, Lambe (Coulson, 62 mins), Brown, Hepburn-Murphy, Jones (Amoo, 30 mins)
Newport County: Day, Butler, Willmott, Dolan (Crofts, 60 mins), Amond, Matt, Sheehan (McKirdy, 88 min), Kennedy (Bennett, 75 mins), O’Brien, Poole, Demetriou
Attendance: 4,294 (181)