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POST-MATCH | Mike Flynn reflects on defeat at Forest Green in Checkatrade Trophy opener

30 August 2017

Mike Flynn insists the Exiles must take the positives from defeat at Forest Green Rovers, after seeing his side slip to a 2-0 reverse in their opening Checkatrade Trophy Southern Section Group E encounter.

The home side took the lead on 21 minutes, when left-sided midfielder Dan Wishart fired under James Bittner from just outside the area for his first goal of his season. 

The Green Devils then secured victory late on, ex-Peterborough man Luke James also getting off the mark for this campaign, rifling home from just outside the area on 84 minutes.

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But Flynn was quick to point to the encouraging signs from his side.

“I knew the risks of what could potentially happen tonight but there were some positives tonight,” he said.  

“A lot of the players got some minutes under their belt, Ben Tozer being one of them so it was good.

“We’ve come here, give it a go, come up short but there were some positives tonight.”

Flynn elected to make eight changes to the side that beat Chesterfield on the weekend, allowing some players to get much needed minutes for the side.

That saw midfielder Ben Tozer make his first start in an Exiles shirt since suffering a knee injury at Stevenage in January, as defender Jazzi Barnum-Bobb got his first minutes of the season when coming on as a half-time substitute.

Fellow defender Calaum Jahraldo-Martin started his first competitive game for County after only making substitute appearances thus far this campaign, as goalkeeper James Bittner made his own first appearance of the season.

And Flynn believes it was the right decision to make wholesale changes to the side.

“It’s never nice when you lose a football match but I think the best team won tonight,” he added.

“Having said that, I’d still do the same again because I need to look at the bigger picture. I need to give boys minutes who maybe haven’t had as many yet this season and it told me a few things that I needed to know.

“In terms of the goalkeeping, I’ve got to do that because firstly, I’ve got to see how James Bittner can handle it if something does happen to Joe Day and secondly the freshness for Saturday might not kill anybody.

“I’ve got to look at the bigger picture and make sure that the boys are prepared for Saturday because I’d say that if we win Saturday then the next home game is worth more than the £10,000 on offer tonight.”

Another positive was that the Exiles didn’t pick up any further injuries on the night, with Flynn confirming the double substitution at half-time was tactical as opposed to enforced.

He continued: “A little knock again for Pipey but nothing to be concerned about and I was careful with Robbie because he’s played a lot of games recently so I was a little worried about Robbie getting a burn-out.”

The Exiles have a quick turn-around before their next match, as they go on the road again to visit Exeter City at St James Park on Saturday.

A victory against the league leaders will see the Exiles leapfrog them into top spot.

But Flynn isn’t concerned by that fact at this early stage of the season, preferring to take it game by game in the opening encounters of a 46-match season.

He commented: “I’m not looking too much at the table at all, all it would go to show is that we’re currently on a good run.

“I just want to keep concentrating on what we’re doing, keep getting points, keep putting in good performances and see where we are a lot later in the season.”

Some early team-news for the trip to Devon sees several Exiles players requiring late fitness tests.

Flynn confirmed that injuries picked up at the weekend and in training this week are not too serious, although couldn’t put an instant time schedule on the absentees.

He said: “Shawn McCoulksy was out, Lamar Reynolds was out, Joss Labadie was out and Mark O’Brien was out tonight.  

“I hope it won’t keep them out at the weekend, I’ll be honest with you and say that I’ll know more Thursday, I will definitely know more Friday but I’m hoping to know more Thursday and fingers crossed that they won’t be out for long.

“Mark O’Brien felt his hamstring tightening up and we were worried that if he carried on then he’d do something more serious. For the sake of half-hour or whatever it was against Chesterfield then I didn’t want it to turn into six weeks on the side-lines.

“Other than that, no more concerns. I thought Mickey Demetriou needed a night off and it was more beneficial for him, especially with having a new-born last week, so I thought it was more beneficial to leave him out for this one.” 

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