Manager Mike Flynn says he was “extremely happy” with his side’s performance despite suffering a 2-1 defeat to Northampton Town in what was the Exiles final pre-season game ahead of the start of the new League 2 campaign.
Summer signing Lamar Reynolds gave County the lead on 68 minutes with a fine strike from 12 yards after a decent run into the area, before Northampton’s latest arrival Chris Long equalised just two minutes later.
Another new addition at Northampton, Leon Barnett, headed home the winner for the hosts from a Matt Taylor corner with seven minutes remaining.
But despite that defeat, Flynn insists his side learnt a lot from the game.
He said: “I was extremely happy with what I saw to be honest but it’s what we do from next week that matters and I’m not going to get too carried away.
“We were solid; we were the better team for large parts of the game.
“Because I was happy with what I had seen I was more concerned about injuries so that is why we made a few changes - so I could protect some players for next week.”
The result sees County finish their seven-game pre-season schedule with a record of three wins, two draws and two defeats.
The games have allowed the team to gain useful fitness and vital match experience – as well as allowing the new additions to settle in, something Flynn has taken encouragement from.
“I thought Frank was a handful, Matty Dolan was brilliant again, Joss was excellent,” he added.
“Robbie Willmott played in three different positions and I thought he was outstanding. He played wing-back, up-front, and in the central-midfield area and he did really well in each position. I said he was a utility man and he proved that clearly today – his set-pieces were superb too.
“Lamar took his goal really well; Dan Butler was very good today so I thought there were a lot of good performances.
“However happy I am; I am always looking to improve to become an even better team. We did concede two goals today so it’s something to work on.”
One extra player that Flynn will have ahead of the trip to Stevenage is new signing Shawn McCoulsky.
McCoulsky, who joined the club on Friday on a loan-deal from Bristol City, will join up with his new team-mates for the first-time on Monday – something Flynn is looking forward to.
“Shawn is really quick, he’s a goal scorer and he’s very well thought of at this level so we’re really lucky to get him. I’m looking forward to seeing him Monday.”
The arrival of the 20-year old will come in plenty of time for the League 2 opener next week at Stevenage, and Flynn says his attentions have already turned towards that game.
He commented: “We’ll have a normal week now in preparation for Stevenage. We may have an 11v11 against each-other but mainly it’s about coaching and gearing up for Saturday.
“At the moment it’s just Ben Tozer and Marlon Jackson who are out so hopefully it stays like that.”
The game with Northampton presented County with a chance to re-unite with Justin Edinburgh.
During his four-year spell with the club, Edinburgh managed both current County manager Mike Flynn and assistant manager Wayne Hatswell – as well as both Robbie Willmott and David Pipe.
And Edinburgh says it was good to see some familiar faces.
He said: “It was great to see some good faces, none more so than Mike and Wayne, David Pipe too. I’m really happy to see Robbie Willmott back at the club, he will be a big asset for the football club and he showed it today.”
Speaking of yesterday’s match specifically, Edinburgh was delighted to get the victory and with the test County provided his side.
“It was a great test for my team today, Newport will find themselves extremely unlucky to have lost the game.
“I had a fantastic time at the club and they helped get me where I am today and I’ll never forget that.
“I had Frank Nouble at Gillingham and I would speak very highly of him. He’s a good lad to work with and I think he will be a real asset to Newport this season.
“You can’t look too far into pre-season but I think from what I’ve seen today then I have no doubt Newport County will more than hold their own in League 2.”
Thank you to Huw Evans Photography for the images.