Newport County AFC still have the credentials to make the League 2 play-off positions despite suffering back-to-back league defeats for the first time this season, according to Exiles midfielder Ben Tozer.
County slipped five points behind the top-seven following the 2-0 defeat to Colchester United on Saturday, a game where the home side scored both of their goals in the second-half.
Debutant Ben Stevenson got the first goal just ten minutes into his Colchester career after coming on as a substitute, coolly finishing with a clever flick after Courtney Senior had run the length of the pitch to create the chance.
And the home side ensured the points would be staying in Essex by doubling their advantage with ten minutes to play.
Mikael Mandron rose highest to send a powerful header back into the area, Mickey Demetriou mightily unlucky to deflect the ball into the path of defender Tom Eastman, who slid home the second goal from close range.
Post-match, Tozer spoke exclusively to iFollow Exiles about the defeat at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, another magnificent away following for the side and how they have to enjoy the occasion on Wednesday when they face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the Emirates FA Cup.
On the defeat to Colchester United …
“I think we were the better team overall in the first-half.
“Started the second-half alright and then as I’m sure the gaffer has said, when they scored the goal we kind of capitulated which isn’t good enough and it’s not a reflection on us over the entire season.
“But at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough.
“You can’t dwell on things like that and it’s just kind of hard to take it all in when we have lost.
“It’s hard to see a positive when you lose in such a manner because I think it could have been three or four today which isn’t good enough.”
On suffering back-to-back league defeats for the first time since Mike Flynn took over…
“We’ve had a tough week and I don’t think you can take that away from us.
“We had a game last Saturday which took everything out of us mentally, physically and emotionally.
“Then we’ve had a long tough trip to Lincoln, you can’t beat around the bush with that one, it is a tough place to go. Wasn’t good enough obviously because we lost the game at the end of the day.
“And then another long journey today so we’re not making any excuses, but physically it’s been a hard week like I say.
“At the end of the day, we have to forget about it now, Wednesday is the next game on the horizon and we just have to regroup and go again.
“We have to recover and make sure we’re in the best possible shape to go again which is what we do every game.”
On the goals scored by Colchester United at the Weston Homes Community Stadium…
“For me personally, I think it’s not good enough that they’ve broke on us and I don’t know how many of our players have actually tracked all the way back and attempted to stop the goal at source.
“Personally, I’d have to see it again and see what happens, but the reaction from the team to going 1-0 down wasn’t good enough today.
“We all made mistakes across the pitch today, can’t dwell on it, you’ve just got to encourage each other and get on with it.
“Little bit of luck for the second one then.
“The guy has got above me for the first header which I will always look at and say I should do better.
“But again, a couple of things have happened after that so you can’t beat yourself up too much, but you have to criticise yourself in some way and just get on with it.”
On where the result leaves Newport County AFC in the race for the League 2 play-offs…
“If you don’t think you can do it when you’re five points off with how ever many to play then there’s no point in being here to be honest with you.
“I believe, everyone in the squad believes we can do it, it’s harder to believe it when you have a defeat like today but ultimately we do believe we can do it.
“It’s been a bit of a reality check this week I have to say.”
On 76 fans making the trip to Lincoln City and 184 at Colchester United…
“I think that’s incredible.
“Especially the Tuesday game because it was a rearranged, can’t put it in your planner kind of fixture.
“It was rearranged ten days before or whatever so it’s a huge credit to them, they pay their money and travel the miles for us and it’s unbelievable really to think of what time they spend and what money they spend to come and watch us.
“And if you’re not grateful for that then you don’t deserve to be here.”
On facing Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday…
“We’ve got to dust ourselves down after today and just go again on Wednesday.
“It will be a great game for the club and for the fans so it should be good.
“No matter who they put out will make it a tough ask because they have some fantastic players.
“We saw that in the first game, unfortunately we couldn’t see it through but it’s a great opportunity for the club to go to Wembley.
“It’s a bit of a downer I have to be honest that it’s only a fourth-round replay, it won’t be like Wembley for a play-off final or something like that.
“I’ve played there before and lost in the final of the play-offs for Northampton against Bradford. No-one wants to lose anywhere but I think it kind of helps in a way that I’ve been there and soaked up the atmosphere.
“That season Bradford went there in the final of the League Cup as-well and I think that helped them enormously.
“We’ve got a few players that have played there before so we definitely won’t get overwhelmed by it.”
On attempting to secure a victory at Wembley with the implementation of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) …
“We nearly produced an upset in the first-game.
“I think we showed what we are as a team, what we can do as a team, and I thought first-half we absolutely battered them.
“Second-half, backs to the wall a bit and then unfortunate to concede the way we did. Again, we lost a man at a corner and it wasn’t good enough.
“I think we limited them to one shot before that where Joe has to make a good save second-half when Son was in, but I think that was about it.
“It’s a great credit to us, it will give us belief and we’ve got to regroup and get ready for it.
“They got every decision right in the end [during Liverpool vs West Brom] so everything was correct.
“It’ll be a different experience for us, it’s always interesting to see how it affects both teams.
“It’s part of the future so we’ve just got to embrace it and use it to our advantage I guess.”