Mike Flynn has affirmed that the 5-0 defeat to Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium will be the first and only time that his players “let themselves down professionally” this season.
The home side had the first two of their goals within the opening nine minutes.
CJ Hamilton and Malvind Benning both used their pace to cause problems down the Mansfield left-hand side and create the early goals, crossing for Danny Rose to tap home from five yards on six minutes, before doing the same for Alfie Potter to fire into the top corner from 12 yards out three minutes later.
Exiles captain Joss Labadie had an effort ruled out for offside after 22 minutes following Matty Dolan’s blocked free-kick, before Mansfield scored a further two goals before the break.
Potter was certainly making the most of a return to the Stags starting line-up by finding his second on 28 minutes, calmly dispatching another menacing cross from the left-hand side after Rose had watched his original attempt cannon back off the crossbar.
You would have to say that Mansfield looked threatening every time they had possession and they duly found their fourth with ten minutes of the half remaining.
This time Alex MacDonald found his name on the scoresheet, firing through a host of bodies from the edge-of-the-area after Potter’s corner was only half-cleared to the midfielder.
Joe Day made two stunning saves to deny Rose and debutant Adam King early on in the second-half, but was powerless to prevent Potter completing his hat-trick right on the hour-mark.
Hamilton was again causing problems with another threatening run, this time picking out Potter with an inch perfect cross to volley home from 15 yards via a slight deflection off Ben White.
The Exiles remain in 12th following the defeat, although slip a point further back from the play-off positions and are now seven points adrift of the top-seven.
And Flynn admitted the performance wasn’t good enough from his players in Nottinghamshire.
He affirmed: “Let’s not dress it up, six nights ago at Wembley I was one of the proudest managers in the country and unfortunately I’m ashamed tonight.
“Maybe with the team selection, I could go back and do something different.
“But when you concede the goals in the manner that we did tonight, it was the first time and it will be the last time that the players let themselves down professionally this season.”
The result means the Exiles have now lost their last three League 2 games, the first time that has happened so far under Flynn’s guidance.
And Flynn admitted that he wanted his side to go back to basics and become the hard to beat side that they had made themselves into over previous months.
“We’re in it together and they have given me everything,” he stated.
“It’s almost coming up to a year [since I took charge] so the boys who are here now and the new players as-well have given me absolutely everything.
“We’ve just got to get back to basics and make ourselves tough to beat because that wasn’t a Newport performance tonight.”
A magnificent vocal support of 57 away fans made the trip to Nottinghamshire for the game.
And Flynn wanted to place on record his apologies to the fans who travelled all the way to the One Call Stadium on a Tuesday night.
He added: “We win and lose as a group and we’re all very disappointed.
“I have to be honest, I feel sorry for the fans who travelled up.
“None of us want to be tarred with that kind of brush and we’ve just got to put a reaction in on the weekend for them and get a positive performance.”
Flynn had been contemplating making some changes for the game, admitting he almost certainly would have made changes had the Forest Green match on the weekend gone ahead.
And Flynn believes that goes to show no one involved with the playing squad was completely faultless for the result.
“We were poor tonight as a whole group,” he admitted.
“That’s not me singling out the players, it’s us as a whole group.
“I’m not going to make any excuses, the boys had the rest on the weekend, we all had a rest mentally as-well, so like I said I might have gone with a different team on Saturday.
“I wish I had stuck with my hunch so that shows none of us are blameless.
“We’ve got a game to prepare for on Saturday now because like you said, after the first 10-15 minutes it was always going to be an uphill struggle.
“We have to think of when we can put it right and that comes on Saturday.”
The Exiles have four days to rest and recover before trying to put the defeat behind them with a home tie against fellow promotion hopefuls Notts County.
And Flynn says he will certainly be thinking about making changes to his side ahead of the visit of the Nottinghamshire outfit.
“There will definitely be one because Benno is injured,” he confirmed.
“We’ll have to take a good look at it – I’m not going to make any rash decisions tonight and we’ll have a look when they are back in training tomorrow.”
NEXT UP| We take on Notts County at home on the 17th February. Get tickets here.