Mike Flynn says his Newport County AFC side must perform a lot better in the replay if they are to get passed Welsh rivals Wrexham AFC and progress to the Third Round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Both sides will do battle again at Rodney Parade in nine days’ time after a 0-0 draw at the Racecourse, in a game where both sides had chances to settle the contest on the night.
The hosts controlled most of the play in the first-half when coming out of the traps with intent, although they cleared the crossbar on several occasions when in positive positions.
Wrexham’s best chance came on 36 minutes when not for the first time this season, County had to rely on Joe Day’s heroics to keep them level.
Paul Rutherford – the main threat of the night for the home side – squirmed his way through David Pipe and Fraser Franks into the area, playing a one-two with Stuart Beavon, before teeing up Bobby Grant who smashed at goal, but Day somehow got a strong hand to it.
County improved from there but couldn’t capitalise on the chances created in the second-half, Antoine Semenyo forcing a saw from Rob Lainton before he and Tyreeq Bakinson both wasted free headers.
Day once again had to come to County’s rescue to ensure they remained in the Emirates FA Cup when pulling off a tremendous double save with 17 minutes remaining.
Brad Walker was found at the far post from a corner-kick, he produced a smart save from Day, before the Exiles shot stopper had to react quickly after the ball bounced back off Jamille Matt and he had to scoop it off the goal line.
That meant despite the highly contested battle at The Racecourse, the teams couldn't be separated – with Flynn pleased the Exiles remain in the competition.
He affirmed: “The positives are a clean sheet and we’re still in the cup. The negative is the performance we put in tonight wasn’t very good so I’m a little bit disappointed with that.
“Look, if you’re not very good but still come away with a clean sheet and still in the cup then there must be positives. Wrexham did create some good chances but we created some good chances as well, but we missed the target.
“The two headers we had second-half, they have to be in the back of the net and goals. Not to even hit the target is poor.
“But I thought Wrexham did very well tonight and I have to give them some credit as well. The crowd were right up for it, very noisy and got behind their team.
“The Wrexham players seemed to rise to that and fair play to them, they turned a negative into a positive [Manager Sam Ricketts not being in attendance] and that’s a good sign for them going forward.”
Wrexham AFC will now travel down to Rodney Parade in nine days’ time for the replay, with County still having to play two matches before that return tie.
“Possibly you could say that [we’re favourites in the replay,]” Flynn added.
“But we won’t be taking anything for granted, it’ll be a tough game and we’ve got a few games before that anyway. Hopefully we’ll have a few more players back from injury as well.
“It’s tough on us at the moment, six or seven out injured, and four or five of those are potentially starters. It’s a bit frustrating, bit hard going on the boys and I think it all caught up with them tonight – there were some tired legs out there.
“We’ll be back at Rodney Parade for the return leg and hopefully we can finish them off.”
One player to come in for some individual praise from Flynn post-match was Antoine Semenyo, who certainly made an impact after his second-half introduction.
Flynn continued: “We didn’t have a shot on target until he came on and that basically summed up us. We didn’t string any passes together, our clearances were poor, and our decision making was poor.
“But we defended very well, the players stood up and handled themselves with everything Wrexham threw at them.
“It wasn’t a good performance but look, we’re still in the cup and we kept a clean sheet. If we can still be in the cup with a poor performance, then there has to be a few positives.”
The games show no signs of easing up and County only have a quick turnaround before travelling to Cheltenham Town in the first knockout round of the CheckaTrade Trophy on Tuesday night.
But Flynn doesn’t feel any of the walking wounded will be able to return and he’ll make a decision very late as to what team he elects to field in Gloucestershire.
He admitted: “I doubt it [any players will be able to return.] It’s a bit frustrating but we’ll see – I might have to play a couple of the youngsters.”
Newport County AFC face Wrexham AFC in a home replay. Ticket information will be released as soon as possible.
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