Owen-Evans strike gives Newport County the points at St James Park
A wonder strike from Tom Owen-Evans sent Exeter City to their first defeat in five games as they lost 1-0 at home to Newport County AFC.
City had the better chances in the first half, with David Wheeler going close on a few occasions, but struggled to create any clearcut openings in the second half after falling behind despite the introductions of Matt Oakley, Jack Stacey and Ollie Watkins from the substitutes' bench.
Grecians manager Paul Tisdale made two changes to the side that had beaten Mansfield Town last time out. Into the starting XI came Reuben Reid, who scored a 97th-minute winner at Field Mill, along with Jordan Tillson. Those changes saw Watkins and Stacey both drop to the bench.
In an even first half it was City who went close to opening the scoring first as a ball fell kindly to Ryan Harley in the area and he fired towards goal. However, former teammate Scot Bennett was in the right place to head clear with Joe Day beaten in the County goal.
Three minutes later Dan Butler, who got forward well from left wing-back, hit an angled drive towards the near post that warmed the gloves of City keeper Christy Pym.
Wheeler was City's most potent threat in the first half as he headed a Lloyd James cross and corner on target. However, he had neither enough direction or power in either effort to worry Day too much in the County goal.
Reid then headed another corner just over before the half ended with Ryan Bird glancing a cross off target for the visitors.
Newport County had the first chance of the second half as Pym spilt a high cross into his six-yard box and Owen-Evans hooked a shot over the crossbar. Two minutes later and the same player got a sight at goal from 30 yards and gave Newport County the lead by curling and effort into the bottom corner of Pym's net.
That saw Tisdale turn to his bench and bring on Watkins for Tillson. A minute later and City had strong appeals for a penalty turned down as Reid went over in the box. Then on 57 minutes the ball fell to Jake Taylor on the edge of the area but his volley was high and wide.
The chances kept coming City's way as two minutes later Wheeler sent a low cross along the edge of the six-yard box, but Reid couldn't get a foot to the ball to turn it home.
Oakley then replaced James in the 64th minute and set up a nice passing move that ended with Watkins having a shot from range that was well held by Day.
City kept pressing forward in the closing minutes looking for a way back into the match but they were hampered by some time-wasting tactics from the visitors and some poor deliveries into the box. It took them until the final minute of the match to register another shot on target as Troy Brown's header was stopped from going into the top corner by Day.
Exeter City: Pym; Sweeney, Brown, Moore-Taylor (Stacey, 45), Croll; Taylor, James (Oakley, 64), Tillson (Watkins, 54), Harley; Wheeler, Reid. Subs not used: Olejnik, Grant, Oakley, McAlinden, Ampadu, Stacey
Newport County AFC: Day; Pipe, O’Brien, Demetriou, Butler; Samuel (Myrie-Williams, 90), Bennett, Rose, Owen-Evans; Randall (Jones, 75), Bird (A Williams, 63). Subs not used: Bittner, Barnum-Bobb, Jones, Nelson, Williams, Gordon.
Booked: Randall, Jones