The 5-0 defeat to Mansfield Town was just an “anomaly” in an otherwise strong season, according to Exiles striker Marlon Jackson.
County suffered their heaviest defeat of the season at the One Call Stadium and the Stags had their first two goals within the opening nine minutes of the contest.
Danny Rose and Alfie Potter both finished from close range to give the home side a healthy lead, after Malvind Benning and CJ Hamilton had put the initial work in to set up the chances with bursting runs down the left-hand side.
Potter had his second of the night after just 28 minutes, another threatening cross from the left doing the damage to the Exiles, with the winger finishing the chance off at the third attempt after Rose had slipped and hit the crossbar with the first two opportunities.
Alex MacDonald then found his name on the scoresheet with ten minutes of the first-half still left to play, drilling a low attempt into the bottom corner from the edge-of-the-area after Potter’s corner could only be cleared into his path.
Mansfield looked threatening every time they had possession and they duly finished their scoring as Potter completed his hat-trick on the hour-mark.
More good running from Hamilton again created the opportunity, his inch perfect cross being met by Potter from a tight angle, who volleyed into the bottom corner with the help of a slight deflection off County defender Ben White.
Post-match, Jackson spoke exclusively to iFollow Exiles about the defeat in Nottinghamshire, how the squad must find a response against Notts County on Saturday as-well as his return to league action for the first time since May following several injury concerns.
On the defeat to Mansfield Town…
“It’s hard to sum up the game tonight really.
“Obviously, the game was called off on the weekend, so we had some time to rest and refresh our legs after a really tough game against Tottenham the other day.
“We couldn’t really see that result coming, the lads have been absolutely brilliant the whole season so far, and hopefully that’s just a one-off.
“We’ve had a little discussion in there with the lads and we know that is just not good enough.
“That’s not what we are, that’s not how we play, and it shows that we’ve not had a day like that since the gaffer and Hats have come in.
“We need to draw a line under it, got a massive game on the weekend against Notts County, every game is getting bigger and we just have to fight really.
“We’ve got to make sure that this never happens again.”
On the five goals conceded at the One Call Stadium…
“Our defence is always brilliant.
“We are always in games which is a credit to the defence, usually it’s just one goal or maybe two goals maximum that they give away.
“It was a strange game. We weren’t played off the park but every time they came forward, they seemed to either score or have one cleared off the line.
“This is just an anomaly, that is not us and we’ve got to draw a line under all of that.
“The defence has been brilliant all season so I’m sure they will get back to that on Saturday.”
On making his long-awaited return to league action…
“From a personal note, obviously I’m buzzing to be back and that the gaffer had the faith to put me on at half-time when things weren’t going right.
“Obviously, I tried to get involved in the game as quickly as I could, but it was hard. It was a difficult game, we weren’t at the races today, but I’m just really pleased to be back.
“It would have been nice to get on the scoresheet but that would have just been 5-1, it would have been overshadowed by the result and the result is the main thing really.
“The level that we train at means that I have a good level of fitness. Obviously, I played 45 minutes straight off the bat tonight, ninety minutes is a different story [against Notts County] and it will depend on how the game goes.
“Each game is different, if the gaffer puts faith in me then I will give it my best. If I get tired, he will take me off but all you can do is give your best really.”
On whether the play-offs are still a realistic aim for the Exiles…
“There’s 14 games to go.
“We were written off last year so there’s no point ever writing off Newport. We will never say die, so the club can do anything.
“It’s massive [to have a lot of home games.] We couldn’t play at home the first couple games of the season, so it could work in our favour.
“The crowds we have been getting lately could be our 12th man for us so of course we could still do it.”
On the 57 away fans who made the trip to Nottinghamshire on a Tuesday night…
“Even last year when we down at the bottom of the league, for example Morecambe away, the fans still came up there.
“They are brilliant, home games have been selling out, gone to Wembley, come here tonight.
“It’s expensive as-well, we couldn’t do it without the fans. It wouldn’t be a club without the fans, so it is brilliant that they still come and support us.
“The plan is to give them a win now. We’ll have a couple of days hard training now which we always do on the back of a result like this.
“The boys will be up for it [on Saturday] so we just have to keep on fighting.”
On facing Notts County at Rodney Parade on Saturday…
“They are a big, strong team.
“Obviously, we played them the last game of last season and let’s be honest they wanted to relegate us.
“So we do have a bit of aggression towards them and we need to beat them.
“They are quite similar to us in many ways, had a good cup run and it’s come crashing to an end and their league form has dipped like ours.
“We’re both in the same boat really, so it’s a massive game for us. If we win that, we’ll be back where we want to be and that is around the play-offs.”