Mike Flynn says he thought the Exiles were “outstanding” in the tough conditions at Rodney Parade as they battled to a 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town.
On an afternoon where the wind and rain played a huge part in the outcome of the game, the away side took the lead with their first opportunity on 22 minutes.
When County failed to clear a Will Atkinson delivery, the ball sat up perfectly for striker Danny Rose to get his 8th of the season with a predatory volley into the far corner from 10 yards.
But from that moment on it was one-way traffic from County, and the Exiles finally got their just rewards with the equaliser in the 69th minute.
And just like in the previous two league encounters, it was super-sub Shawn McCoulsky to get it.
The Bristol City loanee got in-front of his marker from a Ben Tozer long-throw to stab home from just outside the six-yard area.
That meant McCoulsky scored for the fourth successive game in all competitions, making him County’s top scorer for the campaign in the process with his 7th goal.
Frank Nouble, Padraig Amond and Ben Tozer all had chances saved by visiting goalkeeper Conrad Logan as County battled hard to find the winner late on, although had to settle for a well-deserved point, keeping the Exiles in 6th position in the League 2 table.
And Flynn was proud of the performance from his side.
“We were by far the better team,” he commented.
“I thought that their goalkeeper was man-of-the-match. I’d love to see the possession stats and the amount of chances we created.
“Second half there was only one team in it. We were outstanding.”
Flynn was also pleased to see his side get something from such a battling performance, after failing to pick up any points in mid-week from a similar level of performance.
“I’m so made up for them today,” he affirmed.
“You may say it was only a draw but it was the manner of the draw.
“It is better than nothing. And I wish we’d have taken a point on Tuesday as-well because that’s better than a loss.
“The crowd have clapped the boys off today, gone away happy and they’ve seen their team dominate a game of football.”
Discussing improvement points for his side going forward, Flynn has challenged the team to be more alert in the defensive areas.
“I thought we were the better team first-half as-well,” he said.
“But, I’m disappointed with the goal that we conceded if I’m honest.
“I just think we were a little flat footed, waiting for something to happen and I think the change of shape worked very well in the second half.”
Flynn did, however, heap praise on attacker Frank Nouble post-match, who won the fan’s man-of-the-match poll for his performance.
He added: “There were some really good performances but Frank Nouble was unplayable second-half.
“I just wish he hadn’t have tired towards the end there because I think a fully-fit Frank Nouble at the end would have won it for us.
“He was unplayable today, Mansfield had to double up on him, had to foul him as-well. He was running through people, put some good crosses in, had shots tipped over the crossbar and he was just unplayable.
“I also think David Pipe was brilliant, Mark O’Brien was a rock at the back. Joe Day didn’t have too much to do which was positive.”
Flynn also felt substitute Sean Rigg showed his true capabilities when coming on late in the second half.
He said: “I’ve just told Riggy that I thought he did more in 20 minutes when he came on today than he did in the whole of the 80 minutes on Tuesday.
“That’s not me having a go at Sean because that’s what I know his levels are. I know he can be that good and that’s what I want from him.
“He wasn’t bad Tuesday but he wasn’t as effective as he was today.”
And Flynn also admitted Shawn McCoulsky must now be considered for a starting-berth in the team.
He stated: “I’ve told him that’s he’s knocking on the door for a start now and I’ve also told him the reasons why he hasn’t been starting at the moment.
“Seven goals now, club’s top scorer and he’s scoring goals for fun. Fair play to the boy, I’ve got a lot of time for him because he works hard and what he did today when he came on was be good with his back to goal and that’s what we needed from him.
“He got hold of the ball, set things up and he was outstanding when he came on.
“He’s scoring goals against defenders in League 2 and he’s scoring goals quite regularly at the moment. He’s really giving me food for thought.
“If he carries on at this rate I think he’ll have 17, 18 or 19. He’s going to be up there and that’ll be outstanding because we haven’t had that for a good few seasons now.”
The Exiles now have a full week to recover before another tough away test, with a trip to 2nd place Notts County.
And Flynn revealed post-match that his side will be boosted by the fact that Joss Labadie’s injury is not as bad as first feared.
“We’ve had a bit of good news,” he confirmed.
“It’s not as bad as we first thought. He’s going to be out for a few weeks, I don’t want to put an exact timetable on it but it’s not as bad as we first thought and that’s good news for me.”
NEXT UP: We face Notts County away on Saturday. Join us there.
NEXT UP AT HOME: It's the First Round of the FA Cup vs Walsall. Ticket information here.