Mike Flynn says he will demand a response from his players on Tuesday night against Wrexham AFC in an Emirates FA Cup Second Round Replay after the Exiles suffered a third successive away league defeat in a 2-1 reverse at Swindon Town.
The swirling conditions certainly hampered proceedings throughout the entirety of the contest – but Swindon had the benefit of those conditions in the first-half and capitalised upon them.
To put that into context, Joe Day’s goal kicks were blowing back 25-yards every time and passes that looked straightforward were being blown 10 yards off course.
Swindon managed to turn that into an advantage and took the lead after just 61 seconds. James Dunne and Kyle Knoyle combined down the right-side to beneficial effect, the initial delivery looked a bit too heavy but talisman Michael Doughty brought it down and fired across goal through Joe Day.
The menacing presence of Elijah Adebayo was also causing problems, he had two shots drift wide, and midfielders James Dunne and captain Matty Taylor both saw several speculative efforts not go too far past the posts.
County managed to battle back and get into the break just a goal down and with the wind now firmly in their sails for the second-half, found an equaliser just as fast as Swindon scored in the first-half.
Dan Butler, Antoine Semenyo and Tyreeq Bakinson all combined for a neat exchange of passes, the latter eventually made some space and when his cross found Padraig Amond in the area, the result was never in doubt and Lawrence Vigouroux could only guide the ball on its way.
You could sense County were edging themselves into the ascendency but couldn’t create too many other chances of note, Vigouroux and his imposing defenders happy to deal with any further pressure pumped into their danger area.
The introduction of experienced midfielder Jermaine McGlashan helped Swindon create some chances as the game ticked towards its conclusion – and the 30-year old was instrumental in their match winner nine minutes from the end.
His menacing run down the right caused County all manner of problems and when he won his side a throw-in, they worked the move expertly to put the returning Kaiyne Woolery through on goal – he took it around Joe Day and fired into the empty net.
Some commanding defending saw the home side hold on for their third successive league victory under new manager Richie Wellens – and Flynn admitted another poor start made the game extremely difficult for his side.
He affirmed: “We just didn’t start at all really. To concede a goal after 61 seconds is poor, inexcusable really. The amount of time he [Doughty] had to bring the ball back, face the goal then get the shot off without even a challenge on him wasn’t good enough.
“We’ve not started very well lately away from home and it’s getting on my nerves a little bit if I’m honest. I’ll make sure we address that.
“We had to change it because it really could have been 3-1 – Josh Sheehan missed a sitter – and we probably could have conceded three.
“It wasn’t good enough first-half. Got the reaction in the second-half but it doesn’t really mean anything when you still go and lose the game.
“I think the conditions helped that [the change in momentum] as it helped them in the first-half.
“We did improve a lot second-half and we should have killed the game off but that’s why we’re where we are and not at the top because we’re not ruthless at all.
“We let in sloppy goals today as well and we didn’t hit the target or make the goalkeeper make a save when we’ve got good opportunities.
“The amount of chances we put over the crossbar, sliced or missed the target is poor.”
Such was the domination from Swindon in the early stages of the game that Flynn decided to gamble and change personnel – and formation – after just 26 minutes.
On came Antoine Semenyo in a change from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 and just like against Wrexham AFC last weekend, the Bristol City loanee impressed with his energy and at times, the Swindon defence just couldn’t control his movement.
Flynn said: “I wanted to change the way we were playing. Like I said, we could have been three down early on and I had to change something. We looked a lot better after we did that.
“I thought Antoine was absolutely excellent after he came on.
“He’s a young kid, 18, and he took a lot of responsibility on his shoulders today and I thought he was absolutely outstanding.
“He was a bright spark and I had to put him on – we needed something going forward.”
The result saw County drop two places into sixth position in the League Two table – but they are still safely in the play-off positions and not too far away from the automatic promotion places.
Flynn continued: “We’re a good team and we’ve got some good players – that’s why it’s more frustrating for me.
“There were a couple of positives – Antoine was a positive, Podge getting his 11th of the season and it’s nice to have Joss back in the league and you could see how influential he was after he came on.
“I’m a realist. I don’t get carried away when we’re flying high and on an unbeaten run and I don’t get too down when we lose.
“I’m passionate and I want to do well for Newport County AFC. I want the players to get what they deserve out of the season.
“Yes, I get upset and things like that, but it’s calculated.”
It’s now important for County to quickly dust themselves down ready to go again at home to Wrexham AFC on Tuesday night.
The winners of the Second Round Replay in the Emirates FA Cup will be at home to former Premier League Champions Leicester City and the game would definitely be live on BBC One.
He affirmed: “I want a reaction now from the players because overall, we weren’t good enough today despite being the better team second-half.
“We weren’t anywhere near where we should be or where we can be. I want a reaction.”
Ahead of the Welsh derby, Flynn was able to provide positive news in terms of players returning – but had to counterbalance that with the hamstring injuries picked up by captain Andrew Crofts and Mark O’Brien.
He stated: “It’s huge for both teams. If we’re not at it, we’ll lose, simple as that.
“It’s a real tough month of fixtures going to the 5th/6th of January. It’s a tough run of fixtures but if we come out of it positively, it gives us a chance for the rest of the season.
“Matty Dolan was fit today but he only had one day of training [leading up to the game.] We had a session into him today, he’ll get another session into him Monday and he’s into contention for Monday.
“I thought Benno was brilliant when he came on, absolutely outstanding.”
NEXT UP | We face Wrexham AFC in the Second Round Replay of the Emirates FA Cup on Tuesday night. Get your tickets online now.
AFTER THAT | We welcome League Two pace setters MK Dons to Rodney Parade. Get your tickets online here.
AWAY TRIP | Our final game before Christmas sees County travel to Lincoln City on 22nd December. Ticket details can be found here.