Mike Flynn has admitted he was left disappointed by the manner in which his Newport County AFC side defended in their 3-1 defeat away at Lincoln City.
The Imps took the lead on the night after just 14 minutes.
Neal Eardley smartly turned Frank Nouble on the half-way line with a clever piece of skill, before chipping a pass into ex-Exile Matt Green on the edge-of-the-area.
Green then sent an inviting delivery towards the back post where his strike-partner Matt Rhead was waiting unmarked to head home his 7th goal of the campaign.
Corner-kicks seemed to be the deadliest weapon during the game for the Exiles and one duly delivered an equaliser on 32 minutes.
Matty Dolan was the recipient of the delivery just outside the box, who sent a swirling shot towards home goalkeeper Paul Farman, as the shot was too hot to handle and Padraig Amond was there to calmly pass the rebound into the empty net.
But Lincoln ensured that they would leapfrog County in the League 2 table by making sure of the victory with two second-half goals.
Rhead this time turned provider for his strike-partner, sending a splitting pass into Green’s path to volley an attempt past Joe Day from just inside the area.
Substitute Ollie Palmer got the third goal with 18 minutes to go after barely being on the pitch for 30 seconds.
First he saw a header cleared off the line by Robbie Willmott, before managing to pick the ball up 25-yards out to smash a shot in off the post and confirm that the three points would be staying in Lincoln.
The result means that County suffer their first defeat of the year at Sincil Bank, whilst also missing out on the chance to once again ascend into the play-off positions.
The Exiles remain in 10th following the result but Flynn was more concerned about the fact his players had defensively slipped behind their usual standards during the game.
He affirmed: “Listen it was always going to be difficult coming here no matter who we had played on Saturday.
“The boys have put in an unbelievable effort tonight, we just defended poorly and missed a good chance at the key moment.
“You can’t give away goals like we did tonight so that is the most disappointing thing.”
The game did come just three days after the Exiles put in a heroic shift to get themselves a dream trip at Wembley by holding Tottenham Hotspur to a draw in the Emirates FA Cup.
But Flynn feels his players could not be accused of having a cup hangover in Lincolnshire.
“No we had no hangover,” he added.
“If you watched tonight, you would have seen that we actually played some really good stuff.
“And the players worked and worked and worked, kept going to the end where we nearly scored again right at the end.
“But we gave away three sloppy goals tonight and that’s the bottom line.
“You can’t do that whether you are the freshest team in the league or the tiredest team in the league.
“You give away three goals like we gave away tonight then you are going to lose.”
The Exiles had been playing well up until the Imps opened the scoring, causing Farman a host of problems in the home goal with several shots from distance.
And Flynn admitted he was left disappointed by the manner in which the first goal was conceded at Sincil Bank.
“I think we had four or five shots just before they scored,” he said.
“And then they go and score a free header on their six-yard box against their 6’4” striker.
“It’s not as if you can miss him is it?”
The Exiles don’t have too long to dwell on the result before heading back on the road again on Saturday to face Colchester United.
And Flynn says he is pleased that the side have a game so soon after suffering a first defeat from nine matches in all competitions.
“We’ve just got to move on,” he stated.
“The games are coming thick and fast and we’ve got a difficult run of fixtures coming up.
“We’ve spoken about the game now, we’ll speak about it again on Thursday and then it’s on to Colchester on Saturday.
“There’s no point crying over spilt milk as they say.”
Flynn’s preparations weren’t helped by the fact he was missing two key defensive players in the build up to the game.
But he was able to provide an update on the pair ahead of Saturday’s game.
“Pipey was out with a hamstring injury,” he added.
“Mark O’Brien was sick and we’d already put the team sheet in.
“It’s one of those things, I’m not making excuses, we just defended poorly tonight.”
NEXT UP| It's a trip to Colchester United on Saturday 3rd Feb. Tickets can be purchased from the Club Shop Counter Thursday (1st Feb) and Friday (2nd Feb) during Ticket Office opening hours.
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NEXT UP AT HOME| We face Forest Green Rovers at Rodney Parade on the 10th February. Click here to get your tickets!