Mike Flynn has again called on his players to bounce-back from defeat after the 2-1 reverse to Colchester United at Rodney Parade.
And all three goals on the night came in the final 15 minutes after a first-half that produced just one shot on target.
On that occasion, Joe Day made a stunning low save to keep out Brandon Hanlan, although he could do nothing to prevent his former County teammate Ryan Jackson from giving the visitors the lead on 72 minutes.
Jackson rifled a shot through the legs of Mickey Demetriou and past Day when found in the area by striker Mikael Mandron – the player to double the U’s advantage just five minutes later.
A Sean Murray free-kick seemingly evaded everyone in the area to creep into the far post, although Mandron was claiming he got the faintest of touches on the ball to guide it on its way.
Exiles substitute Shawn McCoulsky reduced the deficit with five minutes to go with a header from a Dan Butler cross, but the Exiles couldn’t find the equaliser they desired late-on as they slipped to a fourth league defeat of the season.
On all bar one occasion this season, County have responded with a win following a league defeat and Flynn wants them to respond again this Saturday.
“It was a really frustrating night,” he said.
“I can’t fault the effort of the players because they were fantastic, kept fighting until the end but I just felt we were a little too open in the second half and we were punished for the chances we missed when it was 0-0.
“The boys were trying to do the right things at the end there, they were brilliant throughout the game and we just have to bounce back on Saturday.”
Defeat at Rodney Parade means the Exiles long unbeaten home record is over after 213 days.
And Flynn found it somewhat ironic post-match that the run had to end on his 37th birthday.
“If it was going to happen, it was going to happen on my birthday let’s not dress it up," he commented.
“It’s done now, the monkey is off the back so to speak and now we have to make sure we go on another long run and that starts on Saturday.”
Flynn also heaped praise on the visitors for their tireless display at Rodney Parade.
He affirmed: “I thought Colchester worked very hard, they matched us up and made it very difficult for us.
“I said to the players before the game and at half-time that the first goal was going to be crucial and it’s unfortunate for us that they got it.
“It’s frustrating because I thought we had the best chances and missed them.”
The Exiles did outnumber their opponents in terms of chances created, having 17 opportunities throughout the game.
That saw the Exiles have three of those shots on target including the goal, with away keeper Sam Walker making a good save to deny Padraig Amond on the hour mark.
But Flynn wouldn’t apportion blame to his striker post-match for that missed opportunity with the scores level at the time.
“I don’t think there were too many others looking to follow it up either,” he commented.
“It wasn’t just that chance, Scot Bennett hit the post second-half, Joss missed the one early-on.
“Then when Joss pulled his hamstring straight after you do start to wonder whether it was going to be your night and it obviously wasn’t tonight.”
Exiles captain Labadie was forced to withdraw on the quarter-of-an-hour mark with a hamstring strain.
And while Flynn couldn’t provide an initial prognosis immediately after the game, he did feel it looked bad for the midfielder.
“I’m not too sure at the moment,” he confirmed.
“It doesn’t look good but we’ll find out more around Thursday when it settles down and it stops bleeding.
“He’s a big miss because we missed him as soon as he went off.”
Some positive news for the Exiles on the night saw ex-Wycombe Wanderers striker Paul Hayes sign for the club until the end of the season.
The 34-year old and Flynn had been contacting each other on LinkedIn before the transfer, and Flynn was delighted to get the deal over the line.
“I’ve known Paul for years in playing against him,” he added.
“He’s always been a good player, good professional and I’m pleased to get him in because it gives us more competition up-front.
“I don’t think the big occasion fazes him and Paul fits the bill of the sort of people that I want at this football club.”
Asked specifically on what Exiles fans can expect from their new front-man, Flynn commented:
“He’s going to bring experience, a good attitude around the place and a hungry desire to the side. He will bring quality because like I’ve said I want more competition up-front.
“I’ve brought him here for his experience, his game management and to put the chances away that we put into the box on a regular occasion.
“If anything happened to Big Frank Nouble then we haven’t really got that physical presence up there. Paul suits that role, gives us the competition for places and Shawn McCoulsky is coming in too and putting pressure on them both.
“He’s been training with Charlton recently and he only left Wycombe five weeks ago. If you’re asking me is he going to run the channel for 90 minutes straightaway, then no because I haven’t brought him here for that.”
Nouble did come in for some individual praise from his manager post-match.
The striker has now gone ten games without a goal since winning the League 2 player of the month award for August, although Flynn has been pleased with the output from his summer addition despite the goalless run.
He said: “It probably is weighing on his mind but I don’t think it affects him. If his left-foot strike goes in which he put over the bar, then everyone is saying Frank is back to his best.
“I thought Frank created a few good chances for his team-mates tonight and I’m sure he will be back on the goal trail himself sooner rather than later.
“He’s a handful, they had to double up on him because he’s always keeping the opposition on the back foot.
“He had another assist on Saturday so his attitude has been spot on. I’ll start worrying about him if he stops putting a shift in but he’s been brilliant recently.”
WATCH AGAIN: Watch the full interview with Michael Flynn here.
NEXT UP: We play Mansfield Town on Saturday. Get tickets here.