Danny Grainger’s stoppage time thunderbolt may have secured Carlisle United all three points at Brunton Park, but Mike Flynn thought some of the football played by his Newport County AFC side was “absolutely outstanding.”
It wasn’t exactly the greatest of starts from the Exiles and after some recent poor home form, Carlisle United were out of the traps looking to prove a point and had a healthy two goal lead within 12 minutes.
The returning Cumbrian duo of George Glendon and Jamie Devitt combined for the opener, the midfielder hooking a delivery across the face of goal which Devitt showed his predatory instinct with to calmly slot home.
Devitt doubled his sides and his personal tally for the afternoon with a contender for League Two goal of the season. He played a quick one two from a corner-kick with Jerry Yates, before rifling home from an acute angle virtually next to the touchline.
A couple of stunning saves from Joe Day to deny Yates kept County in the contest at that point, but after about 25 minutes the Exiles were in complete control of proceedings.
Padraig Amond and Antoine Semenyo both saw efforts narrowly drift past the far post, but there was no stopping the Irishman on 38 minutes when he got County back into the contest. Robbie Willmott provided the cross into the area and Amond used his skill to work a way through the centre-halves to reduce the deficit.
County continued that positive play into the second half as well, with Mickey Demetriou’s acrobatics only denied by Adam Collin alongside chances for Amond and substitute Jamille Matt.
The Exiles kept on pushing for an equaliser at Brunton Park and they finally got their just rewards with four minutes remaining. Matty Dolan’s drilled free-kick first saw Butler denied with a header by Collin, but the makeshift centre-back reacted well to fire home the rebound from virtually under the crossbar.
But County couldn’t continue their positive play in the game to take anything back with them to South Wales, as when they went searching for a last-gasp winner, Carlisle instead countered and won the game at the death.
Day commanded his box well to at least clear an aerial delivery into the penalty area, but it only went as far as the oncoming Grainger about 25 yards out and the returning left-back fired a thunderbolt in off David Pipe’s knee and into the top corner.
“Yeah I’m very disappointed to lose the game,” Flynn affirmed.
“I thought the boys, apart from the opening 15 minutes, were absolutely outstanding. They played some of the best football this club has ever seen.
“They were switching play, through balls and look, we ripped them apart. But we’ve done it too many times, we can’t start the way we did and that’s cost us the game today.”
The toughest thing for Flynn to take was how late the goal came to condemn the Exiles to a rare League Two away defeat.
So often this season, County had hit late to get results in matches, Matt against Notts County and Macclesfield Town and Semenyo at home with Stevenage, but this time the goal went in at the other end.
Flynn continued: “It is tough to take because like I said, apart from the first 15 minutes, I thought we played some excellent football.
“I’m more concerned with the goals we conceded at the start. We conceded three goals, if we would have kept a clean sheet or conceded one goal then we would have won the game.
“People might think I’m making things up or maybe giving excuses, but there aren’t no excuses if it’s true. We weren’t good enough in both boxes today and I’m getting fed up of saying it.
“We should have won that football match, but we’ve gone and lost to an absolute wonder strike.”
The positives for Flynn at least came from the tireless and spirited performances from his squad for the vast majority of the contest.
And he wasn’t afraid to praise his squad for their efforts in the longest trip of the league season.
Flynn said: “I thought Tyreeq Bakinson was the best player on the park by a country mile. Robbie Willmott did very well at left-wing-back, Josh Sheehan was looking sharp again – I could through the whole team really.
“Joe Day made a couple of good saves, Pipey was solid again and Dan Butler, look, I really could go through them all. They all played well.
“We’ve got a fantastic opportunity to do something this season, but we can’t afford to make starts like that.”
He added: “I thought David Pipe and Dan Butler were excellent in there today [at centre-halves.] Robbie was very good at left-wing-back, putting a lot of crosses in.
“It’s frustrating – we’ve lost the game, but we’ve got to go and win the game next week because it’s very important for the club’s finances.
“Like I said, I thought we played some blistering football today. We were outstanding but simple things have cost us. We watched the corner [tactic], saw that in the hotel before we left, but unfortunately people switch off, don’t do their jobs and it’s cost us.”
County now have a two-week break from League Two action as their focus instead turns to the two cup competitions they still remain involved in.
Following last season’s trip to Wembley for an FA Cup replay with Tottenham Hotspur, the Exiles will now begin their latest adventure in the competition away at the Metropolitan Police.
They then host Plymouth Argyle in the subsequent midweek for a CheckaTrade Trophy encounter with the qualification picture clear as crystal – a win puts County through and a victory of four goals or more will give them a home tie in the knockout stages.
Flynn stated: “We’ve got Fraser Franks back definitely from suspension, hopefully everyone else stays fit as well.
“I didn’t really want to bring Jamille Matt on today, I was hoping to go the whole game without bringing him on because he was still a little bit stiff.
“You’ve got Tyreeq playing with a strapped knee, his knee went dead again, but I thought he was superb.
“Jamille wasn’t 100% but he wanted to be here, and he’s put his body on the line for the football club.
“They are the kind of players that I want here.”
NEXT UP| We are travelling to Imber Court to face Met Police FC in the First Round of the Emirates FA Cup. Tickets are on sale Monday. (Find ticket details here)
NEXT UP AT HOME| We face Plymouth Argyle in the final group match of the Checkatrade Trophy. Get Tickets Here for just £8 per adult
AFTER THAT| We're back in Sky Bet League Two action as we welcome Colchester to Rodney Parade. Buy Tickets Here.