Mike Flynn was humble at the full-time whistle of Newport County AFC’s 2-1 defeat at Cheltenham Town and was not afraid to admit responsibility for the Exiles losing at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.
It was a contest that County never really got going in until it was ultimately too late, as Cheltenham used their domination on proceedings to secure their first home league victory of the campaign.
Newport-born Ryan Broom was a constant menace throughout the contest and after strikers Luke Varney and Tyrone Barnett spurned glorious chances from his crosses, centre-back Will Boyle took matters into his own hands and powered a header inside the near post.
That goal came on 18 minutes and barring a miraculous save from Scott Flinders to deny a bullet Fraser Franks header from Dan Butler’s corner, the Robins continued to control the ascendency and doubled their advantage a minute before the interval.
Left-back Chris Hussey decided to venture forward this time having left Broom to do the work for most of the first-half, twisting and turning his way into a shooting area and when Day was caught out by a divot and spilt the attempt, Barnett made County pay.
Once again, the Exiles looked a completely different entity in the second-half but despite getting a foothold in the game, struggled to create chances until five minutes before the end when Boyle was adjudged to have felled Mickey Demetriou inside the area and they had a penalty.
Demetriou’s spot-kick went wide but the side didn’t let their heads drop too much and they made the contest interesting with a minute to go when Antoine Semenyo volleyed home from a Mark O’Brien flick-on.
The damage was ultimately done in the opening 45 minutes, however, and Flynn was happy to take full responsibility for County dropping back out of League Two’s top three.
He admitted: “I’m going to take it on the chin today because it was my fault that we lost the game. I picked the wrong team first-half and I’ll take the blame for that. It’s my fault.
“I’m not going to start going on about the goals we conceded – I’ve said I picked the wrong team and that’s all I’m going to go on about today.”
The Robins eased their relegation fears by taking all three points in Gloucestershire and nullified the positive results obtained by fellow strugglers Macclesfield Town and Notts County.
“I thought Cheltenham did a job on us first-half,” Flynn affirmed.
“They were very professional, we didn’t win one second ball in the first-half and kept kicking the ball onto the head of their centre-halves. We worked on not doing those things all week.
“Cheltenham were strong, professional and they played to their strengths. They played very direct and it worked well for them – we just didn’t handle that.”
It’s always hard to find positives from any defeat but County were at-least able to welcome back Andrew Crofts and Mark O’Brien, with the duo coming on at half-time.
For Crofts, it put an end to a difficult time through injury – with County’s captain only able to make three previous appearances before being struck down with a complex problem in and around the achilles.
Flynn continued: “The only positives to come out of today was the fact that Andrew Crofts and Mark O’Brien got 45 minutes back in their legs and they looked very good.
“Those two were superb when they came on and that’s the only positive I can really take from today.”
Despite the positive injury-news concerning that particular duo, it appears unlikely that Flynn will be able to welcome back any more members of the walking wounded as Tuesday’s game will come too soon.
He explained: “We’ve got Joss Labadie, Robbie Willmott, Matty Dolan and Scot Bennett all missing from the midfield.
“Matty Dolan has played the last two weeks injured, not fully right if I’m honest. Today I thought was a step too far – if he played it could have gone [his hamstring] and then it would have been a bad one.
“I’ll never jeopardise a player’s health or career and I had to bite the bullet today. Crofty was not ready to start but Mark O’Brien maybe could have and that’s why I’m disappointed that I didn’t go three at the back.
“Robbie won’t be back for Tuesday. We’ve had the scan results and it’s a little bit worse than we originally thought. A few more weeks on the side-lines unfortunately.”
It’s now important for the Exiles to regroup ready to go again in midweek to take on a resurgent Northampton Town side at Rodney Parade.
“I know I’ll get the reaction,” Flynn stated.
“I had a reaction at half-time because I thought we were the better team in the second half without really creating too much.
“The one thing I didn’t want [after half-time] was for them to crumble and concede three, four or five.
“That’s a credit to the players that they were able to get the goal and it’s a shame we missed the penalty.”
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