Mike Flynn admits he was left feeling frustrated after seeing his side concede a late equaliser against Port Vale at Rodney Parade.
Shawn McCoulsky had an effort cleared off the line by Valiants defender Tyler Denton as he went in search of a league goal at Rodney Parade for the third successive game, in what was really the only clear-cut opportunity of the opening 45 minutes.
But the game suddenly sprung into life throughout the second-half, with both sides having spells of dominance and possession, as the opening goal of the night came just nine minutes after the break.
It was the product of a swift counter-attacking move by County, that saw Man of the Match Robbie Willmott sublimely split both the away midfield and defence, before slotting a pass into Matty Dolan’s path, who fired through the goalkeeper into the middle of the goal from just outside the area.
That was Matty's first goal for the Exiles since joining this summer and he may have had another shortly after, only for a timely block from defender Nathan Smith to prevent the shot testing away goalkeeper Ryan Boot.
But when the away side launched their own breakaway move, that saw them grab their equaliser, as manager Neil Aspin’s half-time substitution and subsequent formation change ultimately paid dividends.
After Boot had done extremely well to hold a Frank Nouble cross-shot, Port Vale broke with intense speed, before launching a ball into the area that found substitute Anton Forrester completely unmarked, who controlled the ball with an inch-perfect first touch, before coolly dispatching the chance into the far corner to get his side a point.
That means the Exiles remain in 8th place ahead of the other League Two fixtures this afternoon, following a second-successive home league draw.
But it was the goal that the Exiles conceded that ultimately played on Flynn’s mind post-match.
He said: “We were the better team without being at our best and we’ve just given them one of the softest goals I’ve seen.
“They’ve scored straight from our cross, no talking from the defenders, player free in the box, just no good really, poor.
“I’m frustrated because it’s two points thrown away.”
Flynn was, however, encouraged by the fact that he felt the Exiles deserved more from the game.
He affirmed: “Yeah I think we deserved the three points but you don’t get everything you deserve in football. We didn’t create enough clear-cut chances and if you concede like that then maybe you don’t deserve the three points so look, I’m frustrated.”
Against Port Vale, County were coming up against one of the in-form players of the division. Valiants striker Tom Pope won the October Player of the Month award for League Two on Friday morning, after netting six goals from Vale’s five league outings.
And Flynn was encouraged by how well his defence dealt with Pope’s threat throughout the entirety of the game.
He commented: “I thought they came for a point and they got it, fair play to them.
“We’ve drawn a game of football, we were the better team, knew how they were going to play.
“They wanted to make it horrible, ugly, hit it up to Tom Pope and try and get second balls from that.
“To be fair, the boys dealt with him very well because he is a handful, strong boy in this league and like I’ve said, it’s a shame that we conceded the goal we did.
“If one of their players puts one in the top corner from 30 yards then you have to take it on the chin but not that.”
Exiles midfielder Robbie Willmott also came in for some individual praise from Flynn post-match, after his fearless performance merited him the man-of-the-match award from match sponsors Henry Howard Finance as-well as the fans poll.
Flynn added: “I thought Robbie was excellent and I thought he did very well against Walsall as-well.
“All the tracking back he did, broke up a lot of play and he did everything I asked of him against Walsall.”
Flynn was also pleased to see Dolan net his first goal in County colours.
“It’s nice to see him get his first goal for the club,” he stated.
“But I don’t care who scores, as long as we win and I’m just frustrated by conceding such a poor goal.”
The Exiles now have a full week to prepare for their next league outing, when they make the tough trip to play-off occupying Accrington Stanley.
And Flynn has challenged his players to show him a reaction at the Wham Stadium.
“It’s a point, we haven’t lost,” he continued.
“The boys’ effort was fantastic, work-rate was good and it’s just a shame that we conceded such a poor goal.
“We were the better team, I’m not concerned about what position we’re in at the moment because we’ve started well and I know I will get a reaction next week.”
NEXT UP| We head to Accrington Stanley on Saturday 18th 2017. Get tickets here.
NEXT UP AT HOME| We face Barnet on Tuesday 21st November. Buy Tickets here.