Mike Flynn believes the Exiles were punished for not taking their opportunities in the 2-1 defeat to Swansea City U23s at Rodney Parade.
County had the majority of possession during a goal-less first half, visiting goalkeeper Gregor Zabret making a low save to deny Sean Rigg mid-way through the opening 45 minutes.
But Swansea took the lead in the 70th minute with one of their few openings of the night.
Kenji Gorre was the man to get it and the goal came via a swift counter attack from the away side. The ball eventually made its way to Gorre just inside half-way, with the winger capitalising on a mistake from Ben White to coolly dispatch an effort into the bottom corner from around 10 yards after a waltzing run into the area.
But the Exiles wouldn’t be down for too long, however, levelling the scoring just five minutes later. And there was nothing Zabret could do to stop Shawn McCoulsky grabbing his first goal since August 8th, as the striker guided an inch-perfect cross from Scot Bennett into the back-of-the-net from eight yards.
Then, just as the game appeared to be heading for extra-time, Jay Foulston unfortunately diverted a Swansea cross into his own net, as the visitors took all three points from this group-stage encounter.
The result means the Exiles are now out of the competition, the second successive year they have fallen at the group-stages, although they do have an opportunity to get some points on the board when they face Cheltenham Town in the final group game on 7th November at Rodney Parade.
And Flynn thought the Exiles needed to be more ruthless in-front of goal to get past a determined Swansea side.
“I thought we played some really good football at times,” he said.
“We cut them open, created 2v1’s, played through the middle of them but again, the frustrating thing is that we’re having to create 15 to 20 chances to score one.
“We’ve really got to get more ruthless in-front of goal because it’s starting to get on my nerves now.”
Swansea’s match-winner came courtesy of the inadvertent deflection from Foulston. But Flynn was pleased to see the defender make his first professional start for the club, after only being used as a substitute so far during the campaign.
He affirmed: “The goal has come off young Jay Foulston who I thought was outstanding tonight.
“He’s a 16-year-old who had his first start in professional football and I thought he was brilliant, as were a lot of the players tonight.
“There was a lot of good performances out there tonight but we’ve lost to an own-goal and a counter attack so that did disappoint me.”
Flynn did, however, admit that the Exiles could be proud of the way that they controlled the game for a large majority.
“I never want to lose football matches,” he continued.
“There’s money at stake for the club and I think you’ve seen from the performance and the amount of first-teamers that did play that we took the game seriously.
“I am disappointed because I thought we were the better team by a long way tonight.”
Flynn made seven changes to the side from the 2-0 victory over Yeovil Town on Saturday, with only Joe Day, Ben White, Scot Bennett and Dan Butler retaining their places.
But it was one of the players brought back into the starting line-up, Lamar Reynolds, that caught Flynn’s eye over the course of the game.
“I thought Lamar was unplayable first-half,” he added.
“I said this about Matty Dolan on Saturday, but I’d be fuming if I was Lamar tonight that I didn’t get four assists.
“He was a little bit quieter second-half but he still put in a lot of decent crosses. He impressed me tonight because he hadn’t been at that level for a while now. He works hard, has a good attitude, wants to listen and that’s not always easy to do.
“He’s so quick on his feet and when he runs at people he doesn’t give them a chance. He can go right or left, puts crosses in, gets shots away and now he’s got to keep doing what I’m asking.
“It’s been a big step up for Lamar, it’s going to take time but he will get minutes. What he showed in pre-season and at places like Southend or Leeds is that he can step-up a few levels.
“He’s got it in him so I just need him to focus and realise that his career is at a stage where it can go one of two ways now. He can either go up and up or he’ll quite quickly go backwards.”
The Exiles now turn their attentions to the relatively short trip across the Severn Bridge to face Forest Green Rovers.
And Flynn says the squad are already prepared for another tough League 2 test.
He commented: “I don’t think they will need picking up because I’ve got six or seven of them to come back in.
“It’s just about taking our performance and momentum from Saturday against a team who will be fighting because they are down towards the bottom of the table.”
Some early-team news for that game surrounds Calaum Jahraldo, who had to withdraw after 53 minutes of the Swansea game with a nasty looking hamstring injury.
And while Flynn couldn’t give an immediate reaction to the injury, he did admit that he may require a lengthy stay on the side-lines.
“It’s a hamstring problem,” he confirmed.
“It didn’t look too good but this is again why I needed to shuffle the pack.
“We had a few tired bodies, a few injuries, David Pipe, Robbie Willmott, Mark O’Brien and Joss Labadie are all ruled out so I couldn’t name anybody else on the bench.
“I wanted to give the boys as many minutes as possible and obviously it’s a little bit unfortunate that Calaum has got injured but that’s the way it goes in sport.”
Ben White also seemed to be struggling late on in the game, although Flynn allayed those fears post-match.
“He is fine,” he confirmed.
“He went over a little uncomfortable on his ankle so I was a little bit worried.
“He oozes class and was phenomenal again tonight so I’m really pleased after speaking to him that he’s fine and we have no concerns over Ben.”