Mike Flynn says he was pleased to see a “tough, battling” performance from his Newport County AFC side as the Exiles secured a 0-0 draw with Notts County at Rodney Parade.
Such was the fighting spirit on show from both sides, that chances came somewhat at a premium throughout the entirety of the contest in South Wales.
In-fact, the major chances from the game came within the opening five minutes.
Positive work from Dan Butler and Robbie Willmott down the left-hand side afforded Padraig Amond with a sight at goal within the opening 30 seconds, although the Irishman could only fire over the crossbar when on the turn.
Clever work down the Notts County left-hand side from Carl Dickinson created the chance for the away side, striker Jon Stead sending the effort narrowly wide of the near post when connecting to the cross from four yards.
That was all for the attempts in South Wales up until the 70th minute when Joe Day had to make a strong save to preserve a point for the Exiles.
The chance again came from the Magpies left-hand side, Lewis Alessandra eventually trying his luck from 20 yards, only to be denied by a powerful hand from Day.
But despite the lack of chances created at Rodney Parade by the Exiles, Flynn was happy with the reaction from his players following the midweek defeat to Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium.
“It was a great reaction from the players,” he affirmed.
“I knew I would get one. It was a game I thought we edged, but let’s be honest, it wasn’t a very good spectacle.
“It was a tough, battling performance and it was something that we didn’t do on Tuesday night.
“I’m very pleased with the reaction I have got from the players and it is our first clean sheet for a while, so I am also delighted with that.”
The draw halts a run of four successive defeats for the Exiles across all competitions.
And Flynn says the season so far must be considered a success when you look at the campaign as a whole.
He stated: “I said in January when we almost went unbeaten [throughout the month] that there would be another bad run.
“I’m realistic – we’re a football club who just about survived on the last day of the previous season. When we had the bad run in October/November, we had a bad run then, but I knew it would be fine.
“I knew I would get a reaction from the players, but I also don’t get carried away.
“With our squad we will be up and down. But the boys have been fantastic, so I can’t praise them enough.”
Flynn made three changes to the team that suffered defeat to promotion chasing Mansfield Town in midweek, the first of which was enforced through Scot Bennett’s hamstring injury.
The players coming back into the side included Shawn McCoulsky making his first start since Boxing Day, while Mark O’Brien and Ben Tozer also returned to the team.
And Flynn confirmed that it was never even a question of making wholesale changes to the side from Tuesday night.
“I made three changes of which one was forced,” he added.
“I haven’t got enough players to go and change nine, so I’ve got a very good group of players who have done a fantastic job this season overall.
“Just because we lost one heavily, I’m not going to hang them out to dry. They have been fantastic for me.
“We’ve lost a couple of games of football [recently], but it’s a damn sight better than the last two seasons.
“It’s a massive improvement on and off the pitch for the football club – we’ve got to keep going, and not get carried away.
“And let’s not dress it up – Mansfield, Lincoln and Colchester are three very, very tough away games.”
Those changes did see the Exiles alter their formation from 4-3-3 to the 3-5-2 system that had worked to good effect earlier on in the season.
And Flynn went on to explain why he reverted back to the three-man defence for the tie with the Magpies.
He confirmed: “When we go to a 3-5-2, we are a lot more solid but we’re not as good going forward.
“I want to play a nice brand of football and sometimes you have to go back to basics.
“You’ve got to go back to basics and get a point on the board or maybe three points on the board.
“Let’s be honest, either one [formation] we’re comfortable with, I’m just pointing out the differences and we do tend to rely on set pieces when we go to a three at the back.”
The draw kept the Exiles in the top half of the League 2 table and in 12th position, while it did take the side one point closer to the play-off positions and just six away from the top-seven.
But Flynn insisted that he wouldn’t be reading too much into the table from now on, preferring to take each game as it comes and seeing where it left County at the end of the season.
“I’m just taking one game at a time now,” he continued.
“I’m not getting carried away, we’ve got our targets which we have had all the way.
“One game at a time, we’ve got to go on a good run now and we’ve got to be prepared to battle as hard as we did today.
“We just need that little bit more quality when going forward.”
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