Opportunity knocked for Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup. But while Latics failed to push the door wide open, and instead had it closed on them in the contest this year, in a performance sense Micky Mellon took a degree satisfaction from leaving it ajar.

The new Latics manager and his players had spoken in the build-up about how their first round tie at Newport County was a chance to test themselves against a League Two team and see how they measure up.

As far as barometers go it was not inconclusive, but the nature of the game meant it was perhaps not a realistic assessment either.

In his post-match press conference, Mellon said he felt the game was lacking a spark that the competition often delivers.

"It was a very flat game on the whole I think, considering it was the FA Cup," he said.

But while there were moments that reinforced what he needs to work on to improve his team - most notably passing, finishing and the first of Shaun McLoughlin's two goals - there were parts that he was pleased with.

And he felt he had seen enough to reassure him that the gap between Latics and Newport was not wide.

"I can be honest and say I didn't think there was a massive amount between the two teams," he reflected.

"I'd have said we probably had the better chances but what I will say is that I want my eventual Oldham team to be better. I want to grow it and make it better. I want to improve it, I want to make it better, and that's why I've been brought in, to either improve it by making the players better or making the team better by bringing players in.

"I didn't think there was much between the two teams but I do expect moving through the months that the team will improve. I want to see more."

Had they scored first it might have been a different outcome.

James Norwood was presented with the opportunity after getting a sight of goal from outside the area but put it wide.

Five minutes later, Newport were ahead when McLoughlin perfected a training ground move when he met a cross at the far right post and fired across Mat Hudson.

There was an opportunity for Joe Nuttall to equalise before the break, and Alex Reid after, but Nuttall's header was well saved by Nick Townsend, who denied Reid just after the hour - two minutes after he had replaced Nuttall.

Omar Bogle proved to be a menace to the Latics' backline, but it was McLoughlin who sealed the tie with a low, long-range strike into the bottom left corner 10 minutes from time.

"If we keep giving away that first goal and you're not clinical when you get the opportunities you're going to make it difficult for yourself," said Mellon.

"But what I was most disappointed with was the passing. I thought that we never strung any passes together really until about 10 minutes before half-time and then we looked like we were progressing up the pitch and looking a bit threatening.

"It never enabled us to put a real dent in them, although I keep saying I think we had some good chances.

"I know they're ifs, buts and maybes but they're the opportunities you've got to take if you're going to give yourself any kind of momentum going on from that."