Mike Flynn has described Newport County AFC’s second goal in the 4-1 win at Cambridge United as “probably the best scored under my reign.”
It was a passage of play worthy of the final of the Carabao Cup let alone the First Round, which saw nine players involved in a 14-pass move that covered virtually every blade of grass on the pitch.
Debutant Nick Townsend started the move off before some quick interchange between Fraser Franks, Tyreeq Bakinson and Tyler Forbes saw the Exiles advance into the Cambridge half and Matty Dolan and Josh Sheehan combined to get the ball out wide to Dan Butler.
Butler played a one-two with Jamille Matt before sending a pass back inside for Bakinson, the midfielder’s quick reactions getting the ball back to Matt who split the defence and set Padraig Amond away, the Irishman doing the rest with yet another clinical finish.
That came on 22 minutes, but the Exiles were already a goal to the good at that point after Amond had broken the deadlock four minutes earlier, the Irishman reacting quickest to Harry Darling’s mis clearance from Matt’s flick on to fire home first-time past Dimitar Mitov.
Matt then got in on the goals himself when netting his first in County colours just after the interval, looping a header over the Cambridge goalkeeper after an inch perfect delivery into the box from Matty Dolan.
Substitute Antoine Semenyo then put the result beyond any question when netting his first ever professional goal with four minutes remaining, dancing his way through the defence before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the far corner from the edge of the area.
Cambridge did find a way to at-least grab a consolation at their Abbey Stadium when Ade Azeez calmly dispatched a penalty in stoppage time, but not even that goal could dampen the mood of Flynn post-match who was in no doubt about just how good that second County goal was.
He affirmed: “That second goal we scored tonight was probably the best goal that we’ve scored under my reign and definitely a few other reigns too.
“It was an outstanding goal. It was just unbelievable, and Fraser Franks has come out of it looking like Franz Beckenbauer. He started the move off and it was an unbelievable bit of football.
“I’m just glad they managed to finish it at the other end. 14 passes, nine players involved and let’s be honest, it was a great finish by Padraig.”
The second goal epitomised everything that has been good in the County performances even at this early stage of the campaign, and highlighted just how good the Exiles were in Cambridgeshire.
Every player played their part in a convincing away victory against their League Two counterparts and stretches County’s winning run against Cambridge to four matches across all competitions.
Asked where this performance would rank since he was appointed manager of the club, Flynn stated: “We’ve had a few good performances since I have taken charge.
“The Leeds game, Walsall game, Tottenham game, the Forest Green away game when we won 4-0 are just a couple off the top of my head.
“We’ve had some good performances and look; the performance tonight was pleasing. It was pleasing to score the four goals and to take those goals in the manner we did.
“Some of the football we played tonight was unbelievable.”
He continued: “I thought it was an absolutely outstanding performance. Professional, clinical and ruthless – which is something I’ve been asking for.
“It was just unfortunate that Tyler managed to slip at the end to concede the penalty. That’s the standards that we set – that’s what we’ve got to be about, and we’ve got to keep those standards.
“I’m definitely not getting carried away, a cup game, Cambridge had a few missing and we’ve just got to keep that going.”
Another pleasing attribute was that County embodied the clinicality that Flynn had requested following Saturday’s victory over Crewe Alexandra at Rodney Parade.
They probably could have had a few more as-well but found Dimitar Mitov in relatively inspired form in the Cambridge goal, who denied Matt twice with point-blank saves and a smart one to deny Amond what would have been an unprecedented seven-minute hat-trick.
And Flynn couldn't contain his pride towards the Exiles attacking unit.
“I thought the finishing tonight was first-class,” he added.
“Podge is an outstanding professional and I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“It’s massive for Jamille [to get his first goal for the club.] I thought he was a handful today and I thought he made a nuisance of himself. He was awkward, he kept hold of the ball well, linked the play and the first goal also comes from him.
“That bit of confidence will be massive – maybe could have had a second one with the header that just went wide. But it was a good night.
“I’m absolutely buzzing for Antoine. It’s his first professional goal, he’s as strong as an ox, he’s hardworking and he’s humble.
“He has a desire to learn so I can’t speak highly enough of him. He’s got to keep doing that week in week out and he’s going to have a bright future ahead of him.”
Before the game, Flynn made four changes to the side from Saturday and handed goalkeeper Nick Townsend and midfielder Tyreeq Bakinson their debuts for the club.
Matt and Tyler Forbes also came back in as the Exiles kept to the 3-4-1-2 formation that worked so effectively on the weekend.
And Flynn believes it will be a key aspect for County this season that he can make changes to his side but not feel that he has weakened the team in any way.
He continued: “We make changes for the good of the team and not just to make me look like I’m a good coach or anything like that.
“We make changes to freshen things up and get ninety minutes in – Tyreeq Bakinson has got 90 minutes in his legs and I thought he was excellent. I thought he tired a little bit towards the end but that’s only going to make him stronger.
“Like I said, I thought it was an excellent performance by the whole team. It’s one of those things that I’m really happy about – but is it one of those things which I will get carried away by?
“No, because we have a tough game against Exeter City on Saturday. We’ve got to go down there and show the same grit, the same determination, the same professionalism and take our chances.
“We’ll be a game for anybody on that form. Look, I thought they were excellent and I’m not even getting downhearted on the last goal. It was a slip, wasn’t anything silly and it’s just one of those things.”
Flynn will now have several selection headaches to mull over before taking the side on the road again to face early pace setters Exeter City on Saturday.
A further pleasing aspect for Flynn was that everyone came out of the Cambridge game unscathed and he is expecting to have near enough his full side available on the weekend.
Only Mark O’Brien is expected to miss the trip to St James’ Park and Flynn explained: “Everyone has come through tonight which is good. Hopefully Crofty, Robbie and Pipey will be fit and raring to go on Saturday as-well.
“Mark O’Brien will probably be the only one still to be out on Saturday. He’s got an impact injury, there was a bit of swelling so he’s had an injection to settle it down.
“It was that one [at Hereford FC in pre-season.] It’s not serious at all, the injection was just to settle it down so we’re talking a few days now rather than a few weeks.
“But I just think Saturday will be too early for Mark.”
We are on the road at Exeter City