Hayes & Yeading United returned from South Wales disappointed with the margin of defeat against Newport County, but will take heart from the fact that the team's performance was not deserving of a four goal deficit.
Manager Nas Bashir made two changes to the starting line up, giving a debut to midfielder Luke Williams and promoting Nathan Elder from the substitute's bench and Williams's performance in particular offered plenty of encouragement for the coming months.
United could, and probably should have opened the scoring first, in the sixth minute when Diak John marauded down the left and his low cross was sliced by Ismail Yakubu straight into Pierre Joseph-Dubois's path but the forward miss-hit his first time shot putting the ball wide of the post.
Newport responded when Tom Miller seized upon Mark Bentley's headed clearance but his long shot bounced past Steve Arnold's left upright.
Joseph-Dubois had a chance to make amends for his earlier miss on twelve minutes when he controlled Tom Cadmore's long diagonal ball well and bore down on goal before shooting straight at Danny Potter. Williams' rebound shot was deflected wide by Miller.
Within a minute, the home sdie had taken the lead with a rather simple goal as Baker sent in a dangerous cross which Scott Rogers raced onto and he headed the ball past Arnold unchallenged.
Newport were buoyed by their goal and twice went close to extending their lead soon afterwards, first when Paul Rodgers shot wide from 30 yards and then when Yakubu headed Danny Rose's cross just past the far post.
However, United rode the pressure and settled the game down successfully. Although Elliott Buchanan hit a speculative snap shot over the bar for County, United finished the half strongly. Cadmore, who had just been booked for moving the ball at a free kick, then drove the kick goalwards, causing Potter to pat the ball up in the air before recovering to collect the ball. Then in first half stoppage time, Williams and Richard Pacquette exchanged passes before releasing Elder beyond the defence but Potter was able to block his shot with his legs. From Louie Soares's resulting corner, Bentley glanced the ball inches wide of the far post.
United started the second half as well as they ended the first. Williams and Joseph-Dubois played a one two before the former shot just wide of goal. Then minutes later, Soares sent over another corner which Pacquette met with a goalbound header which was deflected over by Miller.
Again, County responded instantly from a defensive scare with a goal against the run of play. John couldn't quite deal with Felino Jerdim's throughball and Buchanan capitalised by planting a left footed shot past Arnold, and the ex-United striker showed respect to his former club with a muted celebration.
This goal really had a profound effect on the game as County played with a lot more freedom afterwards and they quickly raced into a four goal lead within a devastating thirteen minute spell. Danny Rose got both of their remaining goals in quick succession, rising to head home another Baker cross to make it 3-0 before seeing his shot deflect just inside the far post off Cadmore after Buchanan had dispossessed Bentley and sent in a cross.
Thankfully the home side were unable to make things worse for United although they came close on a number of occasions as Yakubu headed Rose's cross just over, Miller's long shot was held by Arnold and with just minutes to go, Arnold and Sam Argent excelled themselves with some remarkable defending to keep out Sam Foley as the striker twice thought he had scored following a cut back from Buchanan.
And in the final minute, United were denied a consolation goal when Williams, who was full of running all night, crossed for Soares, but his header was straight at Potter.
Report by Nick Bell.
United Man of the Match: Luke Williams.
Photos by Ryan Hiscott, Newport County, above showing Lee Hermitage presenting former United striker Elliott Buchanan with his 2010/11 Hayes & Yeading shirt as a momento.