Mike Flynn hailed an “excellent” team performance as crucial to County’s stunning 1-0 victory at Swindon Town.
The first-half came and went without any real chances of note, both defences holding firm throughout, as the two teams were limited to having shots from outside the area.
Harry Smith and Ellis Iandolo both came close as Swindon seemed to start the second-half better, Dan Butler doing particularly well for the Exiles to clear away the danger with Keshi Anderson lurking at the far-post awaiting an Iandolo delivery.
But Ben Tozer, who had performed superbly in two different roles throughout the game, ensured it would be County heading away from the County Ground with all three points, as his header twelve minutes from time was ultimately the match-winner.
It came from a trademark Matty Dolan corner-kick, with Tozer able to power a header unmarked past a helpless Reice Charles-Cook in the home goal.
That was Tozer’s first goal since 25th October last year and just rewards for his man-of-the-match display in Wiltshire.
But the game wasn’t done there, however, as Swindon piled on the pressure towards the County goal in search of an equaliser.
Mickey Demetriou was required to head an effort off the line in the second minute of the four added on at the end of the game, with Matt Preston hitting the crossbar with 30 seconds to go.
County’s rear-guard stood firm this time, securing a first league win since the one at Forest Green Rovers on October 14th in the process, their first in seven league outings.
And Flynn was delighted to finally get back to winning ways.
“I did enjoy it,” he affirmed.
“Look, we had a kick in the teeth at Accrington when we should have won the game. We threw the game away on Tuesday, which was another kick in the teeth.
“But we addressed some problems and the boys have responded and done exactly what I asked them to do. It was a very excellent away performance.”
Flynn was also pleased for his players to get a first win in over a month, the first time they had been through that long of a winless run since he took charge of the club.
“They handle it in their stride,” he said.
“You can’t keep everybody happy and if I’m honest, we’ve had a blip and we’ll probably have another blip.
“There’s dignity in defeat and calm and collectedness when you win.
“I’m not getting carried away after one win because it’s going to be very tough. We’ve got a good bunch and an honest bunch and I’m very positive in what we can do.”
A clean sheet ensured County halted a run of conceding in the final ten minutes of games, something they had done in the previous three matches, and another thing that pleased Flynn post-match.
“They did put us under pressure late on,” he added.
“It’s football, like I’ve said before, it has nothing to do with fitness. Sometimes you switch off, but I’ll be honest and say that there have been errors, a lot of mistakes over the last three games where we have conceded.
“But I think you saw today that the boys didn’t make many at all. I thought they were outstanding, every single one of them.”
Asked on whether a County victory was the correct result from the game, Flynn confirmed he felt it was just rewards for his side’s tireless away performance.
“100%, of course it was,” he stated.
“They hit the crossbar at the end, but I can’t remember another shot they had really.
“A couple of the times as-well where Frank was causing them mayhem, running down the sides of them, cutting inside. Labz had a few shots, I thought we were the better team by far today.”
Joss Labadie returned to the starting-fold in Wiltshire, his first appearance from the off since tweaking his hamstring on October 17th in the home game against Colchester United.
And Flynn again thought his captain proved why he is so vital to the Exiles moving forward.
“I think you saw for yourself how big he is for us,” he commented.
“We are a different team with him in it and he’s a big loss when we haven’t got him.
“But every one of them was excellent today if I’m honest.”
Tozer also came in for some individual praise post-match, not just for his goal, but for fitting in so assuredly to the defence when moving back from the midfield upon Scot Bennett’s departure through injury.
He continued: “He’s utility and he’s exactly what I want from the players.
“They have to be able to do specific jobs when needed, we lost Mark O’Brien before the game, Scot Bennett had to come off, Robbie Willmott is out.
“I’ve had to put two academy boys on the bench, one of which played last night, so that’s where we are at the minute and that’s why the win is so much more special.”
The only negatives from the encounter were the injuries sustained to several members of the squad.
And Flynn was left ruing his luck at having to make more enforced substitutions during the game.
He said: “I try not to make excuses but again I had to make two enforced substitutions today.
“That’s seven now in four games so it’s not ideal, but listen the boys were switched on for 95 minutes today and they were excellent.”
The Exiles now have eight days recovery time to get back from their respective injuries in-time for the Emirates FA Cup Second Round tie with Cambridge United at Rodney Parade next Sunday.
And Flynn was able to provide an update on two of his injured players post-match.
On Mark O’Brien: “It’s a different one with Mark – it wasn’t his foot.
“That’s okay and it has improved but he got clattered on Saturday and his shin was swollen. He got kicked on it again Tuesday night and in training yesterday it wasn’t right, so it wasn’t right to play him, and it would have been in his mind all game.”
On Scot Bennett: “He’s just tweaked his adductor (thigh), so he’s got a week to recover.
“I’m positive about that one because Benno has been very consistent lately.”
NEXT UP| We face Cambridge United in the Emirates FA Cup. Back the boys as they look to secure a place in the Third Round. Get tickets today.
AFTER THAT| We welcome Carlisle United to Rodney Parade on 9th December. Join us there!