Exiles defender Dan Butler says the side were more than worthy of a point against Lincoln City, after playing resolutely against the Imps with ten men for 35 minutes in the 0-0 draw at Rodney Parade.
Mark O’Brien was dismissed early in the second-half for a late challenge on Lincoln striker Matt Green, who was trying to get past the defensive line and into the area.
But the Exiles defence stood firm following the red card to secure a point, with Joe Day making a stunning save on 51 minutes to deny Luke Waterfall with a one-handed stop.
And County could have also won the game at Rodney Parade, as Shawn McCoulsky twice came close in the first-half with attempts that narrowly went past the post.
A point means County will spend Christmas Day in 11th place in the League 2 table as the Exiles continue their packed Christmas period.
Post-match, Butler spoke exclusively to iFollow Exiles about the draw with Lincoln, his thoughts on facing Wycombe Wanderers on Boxing Day and how he will be spending Christmas with his family this year.
On the Lincoln game…
“I thought we played really well.
“We were on top for a large amount of the game but obviously the sending off changed the game.
“Whether it was a sending off or not, I’m not sure personally, but we still held in there and showed that we have a lot of spirit and work hard for each other.
“We could have nicked it at the end as-well, they also had some opportunities but that will always happen when you are down to ten men.
“We didn’t win the game, but I think that was down to the circumstances.
“I think if we had kept eleven men on the pitch, then I think we would have gone on to beat them and been ahead of them in the league table.
“We’ll make sure that we take this into Boxing Day and hopefully we can get a good result down there.”
On the mood of the squad after the draw…
“I wouldn’t say we’re happy with a point.
“We’re not over the moon and jumping around in the changing rooms but you have to look at the circumstances I think.
“We were down to ten men, they are a physical team, but I thought we matched them if not bettered them in that department.
“We played well when we had the ball so it’s unfortunate to not win the game. I think we showed today that we are capable of going at it with anyone, even with ten men.”
On the defensive unity shown by the Exiles throughout the game…
“We have a small squad.
“We all know each-other really well and if someone goes out, we know that we are bringing in someone else who is just as capable.
“Benno is one of the most professional people that I have ever met, and I think every time he plays, he does a really good job whether he starts or comes off the bench.
“To be fair, the whole team is like that. Every single person on the bench could have come on and done a job like that so it’s good for the squad.”
On County reaching the half-way stage of the season…
“Obviously there has been a lot of games but I still feel we could have picked up a lot more points.
“But you have to look back to this time last year. We were in a bad, bad place but we are looking up now instead of down.
“And we’ve played all the teams above us away, so I don’t think they’ll want to come here and play us. Hopefully, that means it will be a good second half of the season.
“Hopefully we can go to Boxing Day, get another win and be even further up the table.”
On facing Wycombe Wanderers on Boxing Day…
“Every single game in this league is the same I think.
“There are no easy games but there are no extremely difficult games either. We are all very even and we’ve just got to keep the same mindset going into that game as we have done all season.
“If we do that, then I’m sure we will do well.
“I don’t think [Akinfenwa] is too dissimilar to Rhead who played up-top for Lincoln today. Very physical, likes to pin you and is very good in the air.
“But our centre-halves dealt with that extremely well, so I think it will be exactly the same as that.”
On his first Christmas as a father…
“I’m going to have to get up and do some form of exercise on Christmas Day. But that’s not a problem, it will only take 45 minutes to an hour which is fine.
“But then you obviously don’t drink, don’t eat a silly amount of food or a silly amount of chocolate because we have a game the next day.
“I’ll get to see my family which is all that matters to me. And I can’t wait. My daughter is still little, bless her, so she probably won’t remember it.
“But I’ll be there for her which is the most important thing.”