Mike Flynn says he was proud of a “magnificent” Exiles display, despite seeing his side suffer a 1-0 defeat away at league-leaders Exeter City.
County created several chances in a first-half which they largely dominated, exploiting a weakness down the Exeter City right-hand side.
But the Grecians reinvigorated themselves at half-time, and got the winner when Lee Holmes struck in the 58th minute.
Holmes, scoring his first of the campaign, was set up on the edge of the area by striker Reuben Reid. The 30-year-old then skipped past two Exiles challenges before curling a shot into the bottom corner.
Frank Nouble hit the post as County searched in vain for an equaliser, Tom Owen-Evans also coming close with a shot late-on.
The defeat is the first of the league season for the Exiles, but Flynn was happy with the display against the perennial promotion challengers.
“I’m not going to overreact because the boys have put in a magnificent effort,” he said.
“We created a lot of chances again today, there were some kind words from Exeter manager Paul Tisdale at full-time where he said that he thought we were a very good team.
“I’d have rather got the points and then said that to him, but we’re moving forward, it was a good performance but a poor result.
“It’s frustrating because I thought we deserved a little bit more today but you don’t always get what you deserve in football.”
Padraig Amond came closest to scoring for the Exiles in the first-half, as he attempted to add to his debut goal last weekend.
Home goalkeeper Christy Pym twice denied the Irishman after he had flicked on from superb Sean Rigg deliveries.
He also had a goal disallowed on 34 minutes, after the referee adjudged there to have been an infringement on the goalkeeper in the build-up to Amond having a free header at the far-post.
Then, four minutes before the break, Amond looked for all the world like he had expertly headed back across goal to score, only for Grecian defender Troy Brown to somehow clear off the line.
And Flynn was pleased with the striker’s performance.
“He will – he’ll score,” he added.
“He gets to the right place at the right time and more often than not he’ll score. I’m gutted for the lads, they’ve put in a very good performance against a very good League 2 team.
“Of course there are a lot of positives today – I’m just disappointed that we didn’t take our chances today.”
The Exiles more than matched the home side in terms of chances created.
Flynn’s men created 15 chances to the Grecians 13 opportunities, with four of those County attempts being on target.
And Flynn has challenged his players to get a ferocious strike-rate in-front of goal.
He commented: “I like the word ruthless – if we were on our toes just that little bit more in the first half then we would have converted some of the chances that we created.
“It’s football, if you don’t take your chances then it’ll come back and haunt you.
“We’ve come to Exeter who lost in the play-off final last season, took the game to them and I just feel like we missed too many good chances first-half.”
As with any goal conceded, Flynn wants his side to learn from the mistakes ready for future games.
He continued: “I was unhappy with the goal we gave away.
“I’m not convinced it could have been a foul on Mickey Demetriou if I’m honest. I thought he just should have put the ball in the stand. It’s a mistake but one we’ll hopefully learn from.
“I think you’ve seen today why I changed the team quite a lot at Forest Green because the boys needed to put that effort in today and okay, it hasn’t worked, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
“I’m not going to moan because if we’d have taken our chances first-half then we would have won the game quite comfortably.
Asked to reflect on the first month of the season, Flynn said he was contempt to have a league record of two wins, two draws and a defeat.
“Of course I’m happy with the start that we’ve made,” he said.
“We are going forward and that’s not just on the pitch, it’s off the pitch as a football club.
“I don’t want to just come in and affect what’s on the pitch, I want to affect the football club as a whole and make sure it’s in a good place.”
The Exiles now have a full week to prepare for their next game, where they host a Wycombe Wanderers side currently occupying 4th place in the table.
And Flynn says his players will be ready for another tough test.
“The effort from everyone was unbelievable today,” he continued.
“Like I’ve said, league tables don’t mean anything at this stage, it’s two home games now so let’s see how it goes.”
Some early team-news for the game at Rodney Parade could see the return of Shawn McCoulsky and Lamar Reynolds.
The strike-pair, along with fellow attacker Marlon Jackson, missed the Exeter game through injury.
Flynn confirmed post-match that both were not quite ready to play, although he is hopeful of a return next weekend.
“Joe Quigley is on international duty and the other three are injured,” he confirmed.
“Shawn McCoulsky got injured in training and Lamar has got a slight niggle. It wasn’t worth risking them because it’s a recipe for disaster if you play anyone when they are not quite right.
“At the end of the day, I’ve missed them for one game but it means I won’t miss them for six or seven.
“I hope they’ll be back [next week], I thought one of them might have made it today so we’ll have to wait and see on that.”
NEXT UP: Wycombe Wanders, 9th September at Rodney Parade.