Mike Flynn says it was frustrating to not see his Newport County AFC side score more goals at Rodney Parade but he couldn’t hide his satisfaction at another resolute defensive display in the 1-0 success over Grimsby Town.
The Exiles controlled proceedings from start to finish – having 20 shots in total – but could only convert one of them into a goal.
When it did arrive, however, it was a strike worthy of winning any game in League Two.
Matty Dolan – after ballooning a free-kick over the crossbar just before this one – picked his spot to perfection and curled one over the wall from 25 yards into the far corner that left Grimsby goalkeeper James McKeown motionless in the away goal.
Before that match-winner, McKeown had done well to repel attempts from Dan Butler and Tyler Forbes, whilst Padraig Amond was denied by a last-ditch challenge from Akin Famewo.
In the second-half, Tyreeq Bakinson almost found the top corner following a powerful run from midfield, and after his usual effervescent performance, Mark Harris hit the side netting from an acute angle.
McKeown reacted sharply to divert Josh Sheehan’s cross-shot over the top of his crossbar – meaning the Exiles had to settle for a solitary goal in South Wales but it was enough for all three points.
At the other end, Alex Whitmore came closest to anything for Grimsby when seeing a header blocked by Mickey Demetriou on its way through, but the Mariners ended proceedings without registering a shot on Joe Day’s goal.
And those statistics left Flynn with mixed reactions post-match – pleasure at seeing his side secure all three points with a confident defensive display, but rueing the fact his side couldn’t find more goals in a comfortable performance.
He affirmed: “Yeah it was [a fantastic home performance.] Look, I’m never going to stop saying this, we should have scored a lot more and we should have killed them off.
“But, we’ll always take a 1-0 result at home. It’s a clean sheet and I thought it was a very, very good performance.
“I have got an outstanding group of players in there who have bought into this football club. Believe me, it means a lot. This is a special club for me.”
Flynn continued: “Yeah we were [the dominant factor in the game.] We were really good today.
“First ten minutes was probably quite even if I’m honest, Grimsby have improved this season and I’d say Michael [Jolley] has done a good job there."
Flynn again challenged his side post-match to show that extra bit of clinicality in-front of goal when the chances are created.
He continued: “Look, nobody ever misses a chance on purpose. It’s just one of those things.
“Grimsby made a couple of good blocks as-well, we maybe should have had a penalty in the first-half. If we had have scored again then I think it would have opened the game up, and we could have got a few more.
“Podge should have scored in the first couple of minutes. So yeah, the chances were there. But we did the next best thing and that was win 1-0.”
The most pleasing thing for Flynn was the defensive solidarity shown when Grimsby Town pressed late on for an equaliser and threw everything at the Exiles.
Last season, County dropped 15 points from winning positions at Rodney Parade but twice in the opening three home fixtures, the Exiles have been able to hold on quite easily for 1-0 victories.
And Flynn couldn’t contain his pride towards his side for again making sure that no points were dropped in South Wales.
He said: “I wasn’t nervous in the fact they didn’t create anything through it, but they do have some very good players. It only takes a ricochet, a slip or anything like that when the game is 1-0 - you can always get dragged back to a draw.
“It’s something I’m always careful about and you know, it’s good to [prevent a comeback] and get the three points.”
When the goal did arrive, it gave Matty Dolan the chance to get up and running for the 2018/19 campaign.
The midfielder can add that textbook free-kick to the two set-pieces he netted at home against Carlisle United last season, and he is now up to four in County colours.
On the goal, Flynn affirmed: “Matty’s free kick – look, he’s had five attempts before it I think. He had a bit of a stiff groin before the game so I know he was a bit cautious in taking the free-kicks.
“But how he’s hit it, believe me, he practises that and he does it regularly in training. He probably should be hitting the target with at-least of those free-kicks out of the five.
“But it’s a great free-kick, it was a piece of quality and I’m glad he’s off the mark [for the season] as-well.”
A former Mariner, Padraig Amond also has to take some credit for Dolan being allowed to bury the free-kick into the far left corner.
Only four people remain from his spell with Grimsby back in the 2015-16 campaign, one of which is the goalkeeper James McKeown, who Amond has remained good friends with.
The Irishman certainly made it difficult for McKeown to set his wall before Dolan struck and Flynn commented: “That’s what Padraig Amond is about.
“He’s busy, loves football, knows the Grimsby goalkeeper well and he knows how to get into his head.
“Didn’t do anything wrong, he was being a pain in the backside shall we say. Look, he’s brilliant. He’s great to have.”
Amond again linked up well with Mark Harris from the first whistle and the pair were again a constant problem for the opposition defence with their tenacity and speed.
Harris came off with 18 minutes remaining in Flynn's first substitution of the afternoon, and fellow attacking options Jamille Matt and Antoine Semenyo both came on and also had an impact on proceedings.
Speaking about his attacking unit, Flynn continued: “Yeah [Podge was a pain for Grimsby] and so was Mark Harris as-well.
“I thought Jamma [Jamille Matt] and Antoine Semenyo did very well when they came on and even though I don’t think Charlie Cooper touched the ball, he kept his shape, his position was good so at-least we can see that they are taking things on board.”
Despite Dolan being the match-winner, Flynn couldn’t help but praise the exploits of his midfield partner Tyreeq Bakinson.
The Bristol City loanee was slick on the ball throughout, used his intelligence and trickery to good effect in the middle of the park and was perhaps unlucky not to find the target after a near-perfect individual performance.
Flynn stated on the 19-year old: “I thought he was absolutely outstanding. If he could shoot, then it really would be the deal of the century.
“He’s a great kid, wants to learn, he’s talented and we just need him to hit the target a couple of times now as-well.”
After accumulating 10 points from the last 12 available in League Two, the Exiles can now turn their attentions to Carabao Cup action on Tuesday when hosting Oxford United.
During the game, County will be trying to reach the Third Round of the competition for the first time since the 1962/63 campaign – when they lost at home 2-1 to Manchester City at that stage.
Speaking about the game, Flynn confirmed he might rotate his squad by saying: “I possibly might do yes [make some changes.]
“It would allow me to get a couple of people up to speed and there are a few decisions for me to think about now. The game will give one or two the chance to impress and it will give me the opportunity to rest one or two that might need a rest.
“Look, we want to be successful in every game we play so let’s have a go against Oxford United on Tuesday.”