Mike Flynn heaped praise on his whole squad after seeing his side secure their place in the Emirates FA Cup Second Round with an impressive 2-1 victory over League 1 Walsall at Rodney Parade.
In-front of the S4C cameras, Frank Nouble opened the scoring for the Exiles with his first goal since August 26th on 18 minutes.
It all came from a Joe Day long-ball that Nouble controlled with ease inside the Walsall half, before turning his two markers and firing a shot towards goal from 30 yards.
And although it did take a deflection off Saddlers defender Jon Guthrie, Nouble will be credited with the goal as the Exiles went in at the break ahead.
It was no more than the Exiles deserved for a resilient display in the opening 45 minutes, and they were duly rewarded again for their performance with the second goal within 26 seconds of the restart.
After Ben White had made a marauding run from the heart of the County defence, he played a delightful through ball into the path of Shawn McCoulsky, who sent his man the wrong way before firing across goal into the far bottom corner for his eighth goal of the campaign.
Walsall substitute Amadou Bakayoko did halve the deficit from a looping header with twelve minutes remaining, to set up a tense finale in South Wales.
But despite Walsall bombarding the County penalty area late on and trying to force a replay, the Exiles defensive unit stood firm to secure a superb victory.
It is the first time the Exiles have beaten a higher division opposition in the Emirates FA Cup since the 2001/02 season, when County, who were in the Southern League Premier Division at the time beat Conference outfit Woking 3-1.
And Flynn says that goes to show how resolute his side had to be throughout the game to secure the victory.
“It was an outstanding and disciplined performance,” he affirmed.
“We knew they were going to have a lot of the ball, the boys worked on it Thursday and did a session where we had an overload against us and had to keep our shape because we knew the situation we were going to be in.”
“So we worked on it Thursday, the boys were excellent and had a really good week’s training. They took everything on board and I think you saw that today.
“Like I said, the discipline and the defensive unit was spot on because it didn’t faze them that Walsall were going to have a lot of possession.”
And although he had an enormous amount of pride in his defensive unit for their tireless performance, Flynn did admit he was left frustrated at conceding a goal during the game.
“It was almost a perfect defensive display,” he stated.
“I can’t really remember a save that Joe Day had to make up until the goal.
“I’m a little bit disappointed with the goal we conceded because we’re 2-0 up against a League 1 side and my centre-half decides to start sprinting up the pitch and then starts sprinting back, picks up a niggle and can’t get the right side.
“You know, Mickey was outstanding tonight, but it was just those little things which we need to cut out and we’ll be a very good team.
“But look, I’m absolutely delighted with the result and the performance and obviously glad Frank has got on the scoresheet and ended that drought.”
Nouble’s goal was his first in 13 appearances.
And Flynn was delighted to see his striker break his goal-drought with such an important goal.
He said: “I don’t think Frank ever suffers with confidence if I’m honest.
“He’s a very confident person, he’s a handful and you saw that again today.
“He was running rings around League 1 players and that’s the potential that he has got.
“If he does get more goals then I’ll struggle to keep hold of him so I’m glad he went through a drought if I’m honest!”
McCoulsky took his tally up to eight goals for the season with his predatory finish in the second-half, ensuring he stays as County’s top scorer for the campaign.
It came on only his second start since September and although Flynn did have some critiques for his front-man, he also had a huge amount of pride in McCoulsky for rising to the big occasion.
“I thought he started slowly if I’m totally honest,” he commented.
“I need him to get hold of the ball a little bit more. From the first half, you’ll see when we got hold of the ball further up the pitch, we were able to attack.
“That’s what he’s got to learn but I thought he grew into the game.
“He took his goal excellently, it was a great finish and a real mature finish.
“I was buzzing for him and obviously for Frank for breaking his drought.”
Flynn was also full of praise for the Exiles fans post-match, following their tremendous vocal support in a cup tie against higher opposition.
“The fans were outstanding,” he stated.
“They were making loads of noise; the fireworks were going off and it’s been a good weekend.
“Those fans deserve to go home happy and that’s what they’ve got today.”
The victory ended a run that saw the Exiles draw one and lose two of the three previous matches.
And Flynn says it can only be taken as a positive for statistics like that to be brought up so quickly.
“I take that as a compliment that its getting mentioned,” he said.
“It’s something I obviously don’t want to happen very often as I want to win every game.
“It’s a great way to bounce back and get into the next round of the cup as it brings some important finances for the club.”
Wales manager Chris Coleman oversaw County’s terrific display alongside Kit Symons.
And Flynn was delighted to secure a victory from such an elevated level of performance in-front of the pair.
He added: “I interviewed Chris before the game and I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“He’s a gentleman, a leader and he’s the best manager I think the country has ever had.
“I’m very proud to know him and I’m glad we put on a good defensive performance like he would have been proud of and get the victory in-front of him.”
The only negative note for the Exiles during the game was the injury sustained by Mark O’Brien.
But Flynn doesn’t feel it should be too serious for the Irishman.
“He’s okay,” he confirmed.
“It’s one of these injuries that you have to manage. He’s going to stay off his feet, it’s not ideal but you saw how important he is to us out there and I just couldn’t risk it anymore.
“I didn’t want it to go completely so we had to be careful with that one.”
Flynn also had a development on Paul Hayes’ move to the club.
He commented: “There’s been a problem with the ITC (International Transfer Certificate) for Paul Hayes so I’ve been told.
“That’s as much as I know and I’m waiting to find out exactly how long that is going to take.
“We only found out late yesterday that there was a hold up, so I’ll be honest and say I don’t know the whole thing at the moment.”
Flynn and his players will now prepare for the second-round draw, which is live on BT SPORT and BBC2 tomorrow from 7pm. They will be ball number 4.
County are ball number four in the draw and Flynn was making it no secret post-match that he wanted another home tie.
“I hope so,” he affirmed.
“I’m praying for one because we’ll give anyone a game at home.”