Cheltenham Town completed the Checkatrade Trophy campaign for the season with a confidence-boosting 2-1 win over Newport County at Rodney Parade.
Brian Graham and Harry Pell scored within the opening 15 minutes of the cup fixture while Jerell Sellars also rattled the crossbar in the first half in Wales.
The dangerous Lamar Reynolds prodded home for County after the restart as Newport grew into the game as it wore on.
But Cheltenham held firm with Pell almost grabbed a second, hitting the base of the post with a low drive.
Neither team could qualify from the group stages, but manager Gary Johnson looked for the group tie to give his Robins a lift before the weekend clash with Luton Town at the LCI Rail Stadium.
And he used the game to look at several formations and options ahead of the return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday.
Johnson called up Sellars, Daniel O’Shaughnessy, Freddie Hinds and Will Boyle to the starting line-up. Danny Wright and Jordan Cranston missed the game as they served suspensions, while Joe Morrell was on Wales duty.
Young frontman George Lloyd was named among the substitutes after scoring nine goals in two games for the Under-18s.
The Robins made a dream start by taking the lead after just 71 seconds as Kevin Dawson reacted first to collect a cleared cross and lofted the ball to the back post where Graham looped a header over James Bittner.
Reynolds looked to inject some life into a slow Newport start with a clever run winning the hosts the first corner of the game while Tom HiIlman was denied by O’Shaughnessy after a weaving dart.
But it was Cheltenham who extended the lead on 11 minutes as O’Shaughnessy’s long throw cause confusion, Boyle saw a shot blocked and Pell reacted first to rifle home a right footed strike.
Midfielder Sellars was inches from extending the lead further when, after neat interplay between Carl Winchester, Dawson and Graham, he picked up the ball and rattled the crossbar from 25 yards with Bittner well beaten.
Cheltenham were in control as Taylor Moore launched a counter attack from deep with a superb tackle, but Graham’s shot was deflected to take the sting out of it.
Newport looked for a way back into the encounter with Lewis Collins heading wide and Hillman lofting over. The tricky Reynolds continued to look a threat down the left wing for the hosts.
At the other end, Sellars looked to provide the spark for the Robins, dropping deep to pick up possession and looking to play the final ball to an always eager Freddie Hinds before the break.
Striker Mo Eisa entered the fray at the break but it was home wide man Reynolds who got County straight back into the game when he got in behind and confidently slotted the ball home.
Newport forward Joe Quigley twice went close with shots blocked while Eisa whistled a drive wide and Pell headed over from O’Shaughnessy’s intelligent reverse ball.
Scott Flinders was called upon to deny Evan Press from point blank range after Cheltenham failed to clear a deep corner to the back post.
A bright end to the game saw O’Shaughnessy fling himself at the ball and head just wide on 72 minutes, after Pell stood up a fine cross to the back post.
Pell then hit the base of the left hand post with a low drive from the edge of the box as the Robins saw out the game in South Wales.
NEWPORT COUNTY: Bittner, Butler, Reynolds, Jackson (Taylor 70), Bennett (c), Foulston, Collins, Rigg, Quigley (Amond 80), Press, HiIlman. Subs not used: Day (Gk), Pipe, Tozer, McCoulsk, Demetriou.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: Flinders, O'Shaughnessy, Grimes, Boyle, Moore, Sellars, Pell, Winchester, Dawson, Graham (Eisa 45), Hinds (Storer 67). Subs not used: Flatt (Gk), Atangana, Bower, Davey, Lloyd.
REFEREE: Simon Hooper
ATTENDANCE: 540 (39 from Cheltenham)
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