Mike Flynn says there are numerous positives to take from yesterday’s game at Leeds United, despite seeing his side suffer a first defeat of the season with a 5-1 loss in the Carabao Cup at Elland Road.
On 33 minutes, Exiles captain Joss Labadie gave the side a deserved lead, firing underneath Leeds goalkeeper Rob Green from 25-yards.
But two goals either side of half-time from Kemar Roofe swung the tie back in favour of the home side.
His first came with just 90 seconds of the first-half remaining, rifling a shot through numerous bodies after County had failed to clear a corner. Roofe’s second came on 49 minutes, coolly placing a shot into the top corner after Joe Day had earlier denied Stuart Dallas.
Roofe completed his hat-trick just after the hour-mark with a fine overhead kick, before substitute Samu Saiz and Ronaldo Vieira completed the scoring late on.
But Flynn says the Exiles must take the positives from the performance, noting the amount of chances that the side created as a cause for optimism.
“I thought the score-line was a bit flattering if I’m honest,” he said.
“We’ve just seen the quality that a Championship side has got where they take their chances and anticipate things in the box.
“We had a lot of chances tonight, good chances and we didn’t make the most of them.
“We’ve gone 1-0 up, then conceded before half-time and straight after half-time.
“The chances we had to extend the lead and then get back into the game is frustrating but the players put in a good shift.
“At 2-1 down, we had more than enough chances to get back in it. That is the difference in quality between a Championship team and a League 2 team.
“Even when the score was four or five to one we still created a lot of good chances and they kept going to the end and that’s all I can ask for.”
As with any defeat, Flynn says he wants the players to learn from certain mistakes made at Elland Road.
“There were some things that concerned me and I’ve told the players that,” he added.
“However, we played some fantastic football as-well and we created a lot of good chances.
“We need to be on our toes and be prepared to put our neck on the line to get on the end of one of those chances.
“You can’t have that many chances away at a Championship club and only score one and expect to win.”
Kemar Roofe, seemingly always a thorn to the County side, even from his Oxford United days, was a huge factor in the outcome of the game, staking a clear claim for a starting spot at Elland Road.
And Flynn was impressed by Roofe and his strike-partners.
“The quality they had in the final third was exceptional,” he added.
“Roofe is a fantastic player for a Championship level, he’s worked his way up and he’s gone to show that he’s moved on as a player from his days in League 2. He proved tonight he is a Championship player that’s for sure.”
“I hope the boys take it on board and learn from it because there were one or two things that disappointed me, but also overall I was really happy with some of the performances and the amount of chances we created.”
A further positive for County was the return of Ben Tozer after a long injury lay-off.
Tozer came on in place of Sean Rigg for the final twenty minutes, his first appearance for the Exiles since January’s defeat to Stevenage.
And Flynn was encouraged to see the midfielder return to first-team action.
“I’ll be honest and say I wouldn’t usually have made that sub. It was unlikely that we were going to get back in the game at that point, and I thought it was useful to get some minutes in his legs. It was great to see Ben back on the pitch.
“You can see the smile on his face, he’s bulked up as-well, he’s looking stronger and he just needs those minutes in his legs now.”
The squad won’t have too long to dwell on the result, with Chesterfield next up on Saturday in what will be the Exiles ‘Homecoming Game.’
And Flynn is excited at the prospect of finally returning home and playing at Rodney Parade.
He continued: “At the Chesterfield game, if the fans make half as much noise as the 600 did tonight, I’ll be more than happy.
“I thought our fans tonight were just outstanding, they sang from the warm-up until the end and to come up here on a Tuesday night, I can’t thank them enough.
“We’ll be ready for Saturday, at home, hopefully 5,000+ and we’ll be looking to repay the efforts they have put in for us over the last few weeks."
He added: “The pitch will be in pristine condition on Saturday and I’m really looking forward to being back at Rodney Parade, it will be a special occasion.
“The WRU are a professional outfit so there will be a big improvement and hopefully the players go and enjoy it and play football on the new pitch.”