Exeter City 1, Newport County 0
Michael Flynn was left frustrated after his Newport County team suffered their first League Two defeat of the season.
Padraig Amond netted for County, heading in from a Mickey Demetriou long throw, only for his effort to be disallowed by referee John Brooks because of a foul elsewhere.
Newport were then punished for a defensive error midway through the second half.
“It was a massive decision by the referee in the first half to disallow a goal, there was nothing wrong with it,” said Flynn.
“Then we go and gift them a goal near enough by not putting the ball out of play, so I’m really frustrated.
“We took the game to them today and missed too many chances during the first half.”
Lee Holmes scored an individual goal to take all three points and keep Exeter top of the table. Newport failed to clear the danger when they had an opportunity.
Reuben Reid was too strong for Demetriou and when he pulled the ball back Holmes cut inside and curled his shot beyond goalkeeper Joe Day.
Newport were the better team during the first half, but were unable to score the goal they needed.
Amond fired over when he had an outstanding chance, while he had an effort cleared off the line.
Robbie Willmott shot over from a good opening before Holmes netted the winner, producing a curling finish to shoot low past goalkeeper Joe Day.
Frank Nouble hit the inside of a post from 25 yards, but there was no way through for Newport at St James Park.
Flynn will take positives from the performance of his team, who competed hard and can feel hard done by.
Dan Butler and Sean Rigg were called into the team with David Pipe and Reece Cole dropping out, while Joss Labadie passed a late fitness test on his injury.
Rigg operated just behind Nouble and Amond, causing Exeter plenty of problems.
Teenage defender Ben White was Newport’s man of the match, while Flynn sent on Tom Owen-Evans and Cole for Matt Dolan and Mark O’Brien as Newport worked to score an equaliser.
Newport County: Day, O’Brien (Owen-Evans 77), Demetriou, White, Willmott (Tozer 86), Labadie, Dolan (Cole 77), Rigg, Butler, Nouble, Amond. Subs not used: Bittner, Pipe, Bennett, Jahraldo-Martin.
Referee: John Brooks.
Attendance: 4,193 (343 County).