Exiles midfielder Robbie Willmott has admitted that the squad were left feeling “disappointed” after failing to secure all three points in the 3-3 draw with Carlisle United.
It was Willmott’s delivery that led to County having a half-time lead at Rodney Parade, with Shawn McCoulsky eventually firing home after a scramble in the box.
But twice in the second-half, the Exiles had to fightback to get their point.
Away captain Luke Joyce and Kelvin Etuhu had put Carlisle in-front on 53 minutes, only for Matty Dolan to score a stunning free-kick to get County back on level terms.
And after ex-Exile Tom Miller had reinstated the Carlisle lead, Dolan again produced the goods with an even better free-kick with twenty minutes remaining to ensure the points were shared.
Dan Butler almost got the winner for County with the final kick of the game, although away goalkeeper Jack Bonham produced a save of the season contender to preserve a point for his side from their 564-mile round trip to South Wales.
Post-match, Willmott spoke exclusively to iFollow Exiles about the exhilarating game at Rodney Parade, his thoughts on all three County goals and the trip to his former employers Cambridge United on Saturday.
On the Carlisle game…
“The gaffer said before the game that it was probably one of the biggest tests this year.
“I wasn’t here last year but he said that they played us off the park and they almost always make the play-offs.
“It was a big test, but I think everyone who watched today will know that we should have got all three points so it’s just frustrating that we couldn’t get into the play-offs today.
“I think we played well and dominated the game apart from the first ten minutes.
“Then, it was just three bad mistakes that have cost us, and we haven’t been like that previously. That isn’t in our nature and we just have to rectify that in training this week.
“It is a disappointment because we were in a winning position at half-time.
“We were controlling the game, controlling the tempo in the midfield so it is a tough point to take.
“But, it’s still a point. We would have liked all three but there are some positives to take from today. We’ll carry that form on into the next game and see what we can do.”
On playing in a different position during the game for the Exiles…
“I mean the gaffer put me in a different role today to screen and to sit as a two with Matty Dolan.
“It’s not my usual position, I think everyone knows that now I’m not going to play in a usual position.
“I’m happy though, I get on the ball and try to make things happen. I try to destroy any creativity they have and that’s what I had to do today.
“For me it’s just about staying 100% professional, keeping my head and doing a job for the team.”
On Shawn McCoulsky’s ninth goal of the season…
“He’s just a poacher. He’s just a very good goal scorer and is always in the right place at the right time.
“He put it in nicely and we are very pleased with that because it was from another set play and everyone knows we’re dangerous from set plays.”
On Matty Dolan’s two free-kicks at Rodney Parade…
“I think the first one is a good free-kick and the second one is unbelievable.
“People might not have noticed that one of their players ran back from the wall, but he’s still managed to get it over the wall and over the player on the line into the top corner.
“It’s unbelievable – obviously people don’t get to see us in training, but he does those sorts of things in training every day.
“I think people have seen him take a few free-kicks recently and got frustrated with them, but we knew he had the quality to do that.”
On the squad’s trip to Mo’s boxing gym and fitness academy last Monday…
“It’s just a change of scenery really. You don’t want to come in every day and be doing the same thing.
“It was like a second recovery day so instead of having a light jog and stretch, the gaffer put us in the boxing gym and it was good.
“The two coaches were brilliant with us, there were a couple of circuits for us lads that didn’t play which was tough. It was hard – you felt it the next day that’s for sure.
“Pipey is decent at it. I think he goes in there a few times a week so he’s decent and picked up the technique.
“But I think it’s between Calaum and Frank Nouble for the worst. I’ve never seen technique like it in my life, it was like they were trying to swat flies.
“Labz was videoing him in the ring so there is a bit of footage and it was really funny. Labz is his own man so it may come up on the group chat, you never know.”
On the trip to Cambridge United next week…
“It’ll be a tough place to go.
“It would be great to win because they always put a decent team in. They always seem to just miss out and at the end of the season they always seem to put a bad run of form together and they miss out on the play-offs.
“But they’ve got good quality and I think it’s like any team in this division, if you click on the day then you can beat anyone.
“It’s like us, if we click on the day then there is no reason why we can’t go to Cambridge and win 3-0.
“I’ve just seen that Uche Ikpeazu has got sent off so if he misses out, that’s another positive for us.
“Obviously, I’ve played there previously in my career so it’s a tough place to go, they are a physical side. The crowd make it hostile for us and I’m sure I’ll get a bad reception, so I look forward to that one!”