Mike Flynn believes his Newport County AFC side were unlucky not to pick up all three points at Rodney Parade as a late goal from Coventry City ensured the points were shared in a 1-1 draw.
Both sides had several chances in the first-half, although very few of those opportunities actually tested the two goalkeepers, with players from each team firing high over the crossbar on several occasions.
But the Exiles showed that much required clinical edge five minutes before the break to take a lead with them into half-time.
It was the product of a sublime build-up down the left-hand side, Robbie Willmott and Paul Hayes working the ball well between them, before Willmott whipped in the perfect delivery into the area for Padraig Amond to backheel the ball into the path of an onrushing Mickey Demetriou, who scored in successive games by calmly dispatching the opportunity from eight yards.
County continued to build on that ascendency in the second-half, Matty Dolan firing narrowly wide of the near post just two minutes after the restart, although the Exiles couldn’t quite find that second goal required to kill off the game.
Coventry were quietly growing back into the contest after making their three substitutions in quick succession – and they found their equaliser with ten minutes remaining.
An uncharacteristic miskick from Ben White allowed one of those substitutions in Kyel Reid to run clear into the area, the midfielder chipping a clever ball to the far-post for another substitute in Max Biamou to finish from close range.
That was the Frenchman’s fourth goal since joining the Sky Blues and it was the last opportunity of note to be created at Rodney Parade, with both defences holding out superbly to prevent the other from grabbing a late and dramatic winner.
The deserved point in South Wales kept the Exiles in 12th position in the League Two table, still the ten points off the play-off positions with seven games remaining, although Flynn was disappointed to not close the gap on the top-seven by collecting all three points.
He affirmed: “Very frustrating because I thought we were the better team and deserved to win the football match.
“I thought we were excellent today - the tackles we put in, the chances we created, go to show that we were the better team in that second half.
“We had to work on things [at half-time] because our clearances were very poor in the first-half. We just needed to turn them and play in their final third and make it difficult for them.
“And we did that so much better in the second-half. We told the boys that at half-time and you could see that by how much we were on the front foot in the second-half.”
One of the key moments from the contest came in a 30 second spell from the 63rd minute.
Coventry goalkeeper Lee Burge made one of the saves of the season when repelling a bullet header from Padraig Amond, while the Irishman was again denied from the resultant corner-kick, this time Dominic Hyam clearing the goal bound attempt off the goal-line.
And while Flynn was quick to praise the Coventry shot-stopper for keeping his side in the contest with that save, he still felt that the Exiles would have been celebrating all three points had Amond’s effort hit the back of the net.
He added: “The goalkeeper made a world class save, it was a great save I have to say that, but I thought we deserved to win today.
“Again, an individual error cost us and we’ve got to cut them out. It’s been too many now. I think there has been a lot since the Spurs game, a lot of poor goals conceded because to be fair, Coventry didn’t look like scoring second-half.
“He didn’t do it on purpose and it’s just something he will have to improve upon.”
Before the game, the Sky Blues had been one of the form sides throughout the entirety of the division, with County only the third team in seven matches to hold them to a draw.
The away side still have a fighting chance of an automatic promotion place come the end of the season, having matched the results of both Wycombe Wanderers and Notts County.
And Flynn believes that being left frustrated at not defeating a side who are now unbeaten in seven matches goes to show how good the Exiles were on the day.
He continued: “We got a point and we’re very frustrated to draw against one of the in-form teams in the league. Like I’ve said, they’ve got quality throughout.
“Coventry are a form team with some very good players. They’ve got a good manager, good assistant manager, good goalkeeping coach and good fans. There were loads of them here today.
“They are a very big club in this division and they found it tough against us. It is frustrating but another good performance.”
The positive performance against the play-off occupying side was the perfect response to suffering just a third home defeat of the league season against a resurgent Crewe Alexandra side last time out.
And Flynn thought the performance at Rodney Parade was more like the one observed when County secured a 1-1 draw with high-flying Luton Town earlier this month.
“Everybody has an off game,” he stated.
“It just so happened that six or seven of them had it all at once. It cost us then because we defended poorly and made the wrong decisions during the game.
“But today, I really can’t fault them. They were excellent. I’m very proud of the performance they put in for me today.
“They’ve been fantastic this season and put in another wholehearted performance today and probably deserved all three points.”
The Exiles now only have a few days to rest and recover ahead of the trip to Derbyshire to face Chesterfield on Easter Monday.
The Spireites lost at fellow strugglers Port Vale on Good Friday despite the home side spending the entirety of the second-half with ten men, while all the sides around them in the relegation dogfight all picked up at-least a point.
And while Flynn didn’t know of the results across League 2 ahead of his post-match press conference, he was still expecting a tough game against a team who are now four points from safety.
“Chesterfield are fighting for their lives,” he affirmed.
“I haven’t seen any of the results today, so I have to be honest and say that I don’t know how they got on.
“But it will be a tough game. Every game is tough in this league. And my players have to put in a performance like they did today – both off the ball and on the ball.”
Some early team-news ahead of the game concerns the two players withdrawn by Flynn against Coventry City.
Striker Paul Hayes had to be replaced at half-time after suffering a recurrence of a calf injury, while Robbie Willmott had a knee problem.
And Flynn was unsure about the availability of the pair for the trip to the Proact Stadium on Monday afternoon.
“Paul will be struggling for Monday because he has a stiff calf,” he added.
“He looked good when he was on, but he just felt it. It’s the different leg to the other injury so I’m glad he hasn’t got three legs!
“Robbie Willmott came off with [a problem to] his knee, so we’ll have to assess that and go from there.”
NEXT UP| It's an Easter Monday trip to Chesterfield. You can purchase tickets from the Away Ticket Office on arrival.
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