Mike Flynn has admitted he was left feeling frustrated by the manner of the goals conceded by his side following the 2-0 defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.
Goals in either half did the damage for the Chairboys at Adams Park, as Nathan Tyson grabbed the opener with just fifteen minutes of the match played.
It was the product of a lively start for the home side and came after some quick passing through the middle in a move that saw nearly every player touch the ball.
Adebayo Akinfenwa eventually received it and played the ball back inside for Luke O’Nien, who was making his 100th appearance for Wycombe on the day, before playing it across the box for Tyson to cutback past Ben White and coolly dispatch the opportunity from just inside the penalty area.
But the Exiles fought back the longer the match progressed, Frank Nouble and Matty Dolan both having efforts saved in the first-half.
And within 22 seconds of the restart, the Exiles were mightily unlucky not to force an equaliser.
The ball sat up invitingly for Joss Labadie to try his luck from 25 yards, only to see the chance cannon back off the crossbar and clear of the danger area.
But the Chairboys put the result beyond doubt with just twelve minutes remaining as Akinfenwa got in on the scoring for his 12th goal of the season in all competitions.
Left-back Joe Jacobson, whose deliveries had been causing havoc all afternoon, floated another inviting free-kick into the area, which Akinfenwa chested down with such poise before unleashing an unstoppable volley past a helpless Joe Day.
The Exiles weren’t done there, however, and came extremely close to a route back into the game shortly after, although substitute Padraig Amond saw his goalward header cleared off the line.
To make matters worse for County, Labadie was dismissed with a minute to go for a second bookable offence, of which the last of the yellow cards came for a late challenge on O’Nien just outside the penalty area.
Despite the result, the Exiles actually gain a place in the League Two table after leapfrogging Swindon Town on goal difference and up to tenth.
And Flynn was happy to get another away game against a play-off occupying side out of the way and remained adamant post-match that the scoreline flattered the home side at Adams Park.
“There wasn’t two goals difference in that game,” he affirmed.
“We had some good opportunities without creating any chances if you know what I mean.
“We got into some good positions and I’m not even including Labadie’s shot right at the start of the second-half because he made that virtually out of nothing.
“The boys got wide, we got into some good areas and put some good crosses into the box and across the front post.
“It wasn’t a 2-0 game but if you concede two poor goals like that then it makes it a very tough game to win.”
The most disappointing factor for Flynn during the game was the slow start to proceedings made by his side.
That was compounded by Wycombe finding an opening goal, and Flynn has challenged his players to eradicate that in earnest ready for the remaining fixtures over this festive period.
He stated: “When you start as badly as we did for the first twenty minutes, a goal down, then it’s tough against a strong Wycombe team.
“The two goals we conceded were not good enough and that is what has cost us the game.”
But Flynn did take encouragement from the fightback shown by his side until Akinfenwa’s deciding goal, as the Exiles created a host of opportunities in that period of the game.
“We were the better team in the middle period,” he added.
“I thought after the first 15 minutes, for about 20 minutes afterwards we were the better team and then it evened out again.
“And then in the second-half, we came out and started really brightly. But then we went and conceded another goal which is not up to the standard that I want.”
Akinfenwa’s goal was his fourth against the Exiles, following the three he scored past County during his time at AFC Wimbledon.
And while Flynn thought the County defence coped with the striker adequately for the majority of the game, he did acknowledge that you cannot afford a player of his quality to have any chance at goal.
Flynn commented: “We all know what he is. Don’t gamble on him and don’t try to fight him.
“If you keep him with his back to goal, then you tend to do your job nine times out of ten against him. But we did switch off and tried to gamble which is unfortunate.”
The Exiles now have a few days to rest and recover before going back out on the road to face Cheltenham Town at the LCI Rail Stadium on Saturday.
They will head to Gloucestershire without Mark O’Brien and Joss Labadie who are both suspended, while Sean Rigg, Marlon Jackson and Calaum Jahraldo are all expected to miss the game with their respective injuries.
And Flynn confirmed his substitutions during the game with Wycombe were purely down to tactical decisions whilst trying to chase the game.
“No more injuries,” he confirmed.
“I just wanted to go for it. We were being positive and trying to get back into the game. We got into some promising positions without really doing anything.”
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