Pete Wild pointed the finger at referee Craig Hicks for not blowing up as George Edmundson lay prone while Newport scored their opener against Oldham.

The Latics slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Rodney Parade, with the hosts’ Mark O’Brien finding the net twice, but injury was added to insult as Oldham lost both centre-backs to injury.

Skipper Peter Clarke was pole-axed near the end of the first half in a collision with goalkeeper Zeus de la Paz and then Edmundson went down in his box with a leg injury as O’Brien opened the scoring.

Oldham manager Wild thought that match official Hicks should have intervened and the goal should not have stood.

“The ball was 30 yards away and the referee should have blown and sorted out George,” said Wild, whose side ended the night 13th in the League Two table. 

“But for some unknown reason, he let play carry on and they scored from it. 

"That is a really disappointing decision and probably had an effect on the game.

“It’s nothing to do with Newport County. If that is any of the other game in 45 games of the season, he would have stopped it.

“I told the referee that I was disappointed he didn’t stop the game because it is not good enough.  It wasn’t as though the ball was still in the box. 

“The ball had gone 30-35 yards out of the box and the referee looked at George on the floor and let play continue.”

After colliding with his own goalkeeper, Clarke received almost five minutes of treatment before being carried off on a stretcher, while Edmundson was face down in front of his own goal as home skipper O’Brien finally broke the deadlock with a thunderbolt of a shot from 15 yards to give the Exiles the lead.

O’Brien then deflected home another effort in the second half to round things off for Newport.

Oldham got off to a confident start and forced two corners within the opening two minutes – although neither created a goal threat. 

Wild’s Latics were heeding their manager’s pre-match request to “remain professional” and to “finish the season strongly” – and they played with freedom and purpose from the off despite their play-off hopes having ended.  

They gave County a taste of their own medicine when a Tom Hamer long throw in the 10th minute was headed just over the bar by Edmundson but it didn’t take long for the home side to retaliate.

A low cross from the right by Robbie Wilmott was met on the turn by Matt Dolan, and his shot forced Zeus de la Paz to make a great save low down to his left to concede a corner. 

There were some further nervy moments for the Latics as Newport began to pump the ball forward to their twin target men of Padraig Amond and Jamille Matt.

Johan Branger and Gevaro Nepomuceno both had chances in the box on 34 minutes after another sloppy County pass gave them an opening but only the former forced a save out of Joe Day.

And a minute later, De La Paz came strongly to punch clear a free-kick from the left and not only succeeded in clearing the ball, but also downing his skipper Clarke. 

He left the field on a stretcher after receiving four minutes of treatment on the ground.

Oldham showed moments of quality moving forward on the break after half-time, and Afolayan headed just over shortly after being booked.

Then came a superb half-volley strike from the right edge of the box from Willmott, which diverted in off O’Brien on its way past De la Paz for the second goal on 79 minutes.