Mike Flynn says he expects a response from his Newport County AFC side on Tuesday night after what he described as a “disappointing” performance in the 2-0 defeat to Barnet at the Hive.
The Bees boosted their own faint survival hopes with the victory, the side now sitting just four points adrift of getting out of the relegation zone, and they scored with the first chance of the contest after nine minutes.
Shaquile Coulthirst benefitted from some intricate passing play by ex-Exile David Tutonda and Simeon Akinola, with the latter’s delivery into the area expertly controlled by the striker before a neat finish into the bottom corner from ten yards.
That opener at the Hive almost produced an instant response from County as they looked for an immediate equaliser, although Matty Dolan saw his header cannon back off the crossbar before Dan Butler volleyed over.
Butler and Ben White both had to be alert before the half-time whistle to clear attempts from Akinola and John Akinde away from the goal-line, while two fine saves from Joe Day to deny Richard Brindley and Akinola kept the deficit to one at the interval.
The half-time introductions of Paul Hayes and Frank Nouble did give the Exiles some more ascendency in the contest, although they were constantly being thwarted by a solid Barnet defence who knew that they would be relegated if County could overturn the scoreline.
The Bees were certainly showing the know-how required to get themselves out of trouble and they confirmed the victory with nine minutes of the contest remaining.
Defender Ricardo Santos, who returned from a recent injury problem to start the game, rose highest from a corner-kick to send a header into the far corner and give Barnet a glimmer of hope in their quest for survival.
A victory also saw Barnet become just the second team after Colchester United to beat the Exiles home and away this season, and that figure will stay at two as County picked up positive results in the reverse fixtures against the four sides still left to play this season.
Defeat at the Hive also sees County’s mathematical hopes of reaching the League 2 play-offs come to an end following a late winner for Lincoln City in their game, slipping two places in the table and down to 14th in the process.
And Flynn expects his side to respond to dropping out of the top-half in the table during Tuesday’s encounter with Accrington Stanley at Rodney Parade, a game which sees the league leaders needing just a point to secure the Sky Bet League Two title.
He affirmed: “I can’t take anything away from this football match, so the players owe the fans of this football club a good performance. That was no-where near good enough today.
“Everything needs to change for that game on Tuesday and they’ve got to do that themselves [bounce back.] Some of them are playing for contracts and some of them are playing to impress me going into next season.
“The players have to get up for it, simple as that really.”
The defeat in the London Borough of Harrow was the first loss on the road for the Exiles in just over two months.
A total of 240 County fans made the trip to the game, and Flynn cited that as one of the reasons that he was so disappointed that the Exiles had slipped below the expected standards during the game at The Hive.
He added: “I can’t handle that kind of performance if I’m honest. We prepared as usual and I don’t think anybody would have seen that performance coming.
“It’s the fans who I feel sorry for that travelled here – that performance was something that I will not put up with going forward.
“We can all have bad games but the most disappointing thing for me was that we didn’t have any fight. That’s what I can’t handle.
“I’m really, really upset by that performance.”
Barnet continued their unbeaten streak against County in the Football League with a morale-boosting victory, although the game could have been so different if Dolan’s header had found the back of the net.
That chance was the best created by the Exiles and Flynn felt the scoreline reflected the true manner of the game as a whole.
He continued: “I thought it [the second-half] was better, but it wasn’t hard to improve on that first-half. Like I said, we didn’t really create anything in the game.
"It’s unbelievable really [compared to last week’s victory over Swindon Town.]"
Three points for Barnet does now set up an interesting finale in the League Two battle to avoid the drop.
The Bees travel to Morecambe next weekend, the team directly above them in the table, although there is a four-point cushion between the sides and Morecambe also have a game in hand.
Another three sides could yet be dragged into the mix during the next few games, while Chesterfield are still in with a mathematical route out of the drop-zone – although it would require an overturn of 19 goals in just three matches.
And Flynn wanted to praise Barnet manager Martin Allen for the job he has done since taking over the club last month.
He confirmed: “They’ve got a chance, haven’t they?
“They play to their strengths, Martin has been in this situation before and he’s a person who I have a lot of time for.
“I hope he does what he has done previously and keeps Barnet up because he’s a top bloke and a person who I do really have a lot of time for.”
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