After seeing his Newport County AFC side move back up to third in the League Two table, Mike Flynn hailed his whole squad for their defensive character and resilience in keeping a first clean sheet in the league since late September.
For all their endeavour when controlling the majority of first-half proceedings and edging the possession statistics, Colchester United were limited to just one shot on target, such was the clinicality in defence from the Exiles.
That gave the team a platform to build upon and they secured themselves the three points with two expertly crafted goals on 54 and 67 minutes respectively.
Not a single corner-kick was earnt by either side in the first-half, but when County finally got one, Padraig Amond flicked on Matty Dolan’s delivery and Jamille Matt tapped home for his 11th of the season – already his best tally from a Football League campaign.
From perennial scorer to rookie contributor went County when getting the second as Cameron Pring netted his first professional goal. It came after more intricate passing from the Exiles, Tyreeq Bakinson feeding his fellow Bristol City loanee who finished the opportunity like a potent striker.
Colchester did hit the crossbar in response, but County had already wrapped up the victory – pushing them back into the automatic promotion places in the process.
“It was a massive win,” Flynn affirmed.
“I thought Colchester were by far the better team in the first-half, I’m never afraid to say when another team is better than us.
“But with all the possession they had, Colchester didn’t really have an attempt on target in the first-half. But they did have some slick passing movements and caused us some problems.
“They moved us around but what we did was we kept our shape really well, and the boys showed that desire to defend. I thought our defending all over the pitch was first-class. Blocked when we had to, closed down when we had to.
“Okay, first-half they played around us a little bit but they didn’t really create anything. That tells me that we stopped crosses into the box and we got close to them around our goal.
“It’s always pleasing when you win 2-0 against one of the top teams in the league, you have to be happy.”
The respect both sides showed to each other at Rodney Parade gave the game a felling of the first goal was going to be absolutely vital to the result.
Ultimately, that’s exactly what happened as County built on the momentum of the opener and saw the game out with relative ease.
Flynn continued: “I’ve got no problem in saying that Colchester were the better team in the first-half, without really creating too much mind.
“They had the majority of possession, caused us some problems with their movement and they are a very good team. They were missing some players as well as we were, and I felt it was whoever scored first today.
“And it could have been three at the end but it’s a very good day – three clean sheets in a row and we’ve moved up to third in the table in the middle of November.
“I’ve said I’ll never get carried away but it’s a good start.”
Despite not finding the score sheet himself, it cannot be underestimated just how immense Padraig Amond was right throughout the game.
Not only did he assist the County opener with a perfectly executed header, but even in the 89th minute the striker was tracking back to clear a Frank Nouble effort off the goal line.
Flynn stated: “I thought Padraig Amond – I’ll put it this way, that was one of the best League Two performances I’ve ever seen.
“I thought he was absolutely first-class today – excellent.
“He was by far the best player on the park, just his discipline, his positional sense, his work ethic and basically his general understanding of the football match. It was nothing spectacular, but his movement, his positioning, was unbelievable.
“He was absolutely first class today and I’m pleased that he’s got an assist and Jamille’s got number 11.”
Dolan’s delivery, Amond’s flick on, Matt’s predatory finish – it all seemed to be the cliché of one from the training ground, but Flynn was taking no credit over that particular goal.
“Now this one I will take credit for [Pring’s goal,]" he joked.
“Yesterday we did a passing session by setting up Colchester’s shape and we practised our wingers running inside their full-back and the centre back.
“Robbie Willmott actually got in [doing that] when he did his hamstring and Cameron Pring’s done the same and Tyreeq put the pass in that we’d been working on.
“I’m really pleased for Cameron. He took his goal so well and it was a great pass from Tyreeq on the movements and the patterns of play we worked on in training.
“That’s the most pleasing thing for me as a manager.
He continued: “We were actually thinking of starting Cameron as well because of Ryan Jackson. He’s a handful, a very good League Two right-back, if not the best in the league.
“You have to watch Jacko going forward, it’s a tough one because he’s so quick and strong going forward. But we knew we would be able to get in behind him because he leaves gaps. And it’s something that we worked on.”
The only disappointing factor for the Exiles was the hamstring injury sustained by Robbie Willmott, but Flynn couldn’t provide any prognosis immediately after the final whistle.
He confirmed: “I haven’t got a clue, I don’t have a scanning machine on me, but it was his hamstring. It’s not ideal but it’s one of those things, and I’ve got to be honest and say that without the hamstring injuries, we’d be top of the league.”
NEXT UP | We travel the short distance to Cheltenham Town on 24th November 2018. Get your tickets online now.
NEXT UP AT HOME| We face Northampton Town on Tuesday 27th November 2018. Get your tickets online here.
IN THE CUP | Our Emirates FA Cup takes us to North Wales where we will face Wrexham AFC. Ticket details can be found here.