Mike Flynn believes it shows just how far Newport County AFC have come that despite a 2-0 victory over Met Police FC in the Emirates FA Cup, his overriding reaction to the performance is “disappointment.”
There are a total of 78 places separating the sides in the league pyramid but amidst horrible wet and windy conditions, the Blues were more than a match for the Exiles in the opening exchanges.
Joe Day’s usual goalkeeping heroics were once again called into action throughout the first-half, denying Jack Mazzone, Ethan Chislett and Max Blackmore, whilst Bayley Mummery also wasted a good opportunity.
County also had their chances early on at Imber Court, but crucially, had that extra bit of clinicality to take a lead back with them to the dressing rooms at half-time.
Having seen a curling effort smack the base of the post alongside an offside flag ruling out a header, Padraig Amond got the goal his tenacious performance merited and came four minutes before the break when he glanced a Robbie Willmott corner-kick past Luke Williams.
It was all to play for as the two teams returned for the restart, but it was effectively over as a contest when Jamille Matt doubled the advantage three minutes later when tapping into an empty net after Tyreeq Bakinson was superbly denied.
The home side refused to simply lie down and admit defeat, but County had that extra gear and could have added a couple more but for the reflexes of Williams in the Blues goal.
Keanu Marsh-Brown almost grabbed his first goal in County colours but was denied by the shot stopper, whilst stingers from Dan Butler and Antoine Semenyo were also kept out.
Ultimately, County’s strike force of Amond and Matt was enough to see them over the line and into the next round – but Flynn feels his side shouldn’t have let it become an open contest for the majority of first-half proceedings.
He affirmed: “That’s the only real positive today, getting through, along with the clean sheet because I thought we were poor.
“There are positives, of course there are, but when talking about just the football then I wasn’t too happy with what I saw today.
“I thought we were sloppy and too open. It had nothing to do with the conditions, we were poor and there will be no excuses about it.
“Look, it’s nothing to do with their attitude. They are a great bunch of boys, they’ve done everything right, prepared right, it was just a poor performance.
“If it was a league game, then I think we would have lost today. Like I said, I don’t think we were quite good enough today but that’s fine. We’ll learn from this and go again on Tuesday night.
“It is a test of character these games, but I don’t ever question their mentality. The players are spot on, they honestly work their socks off day in day out.
“They are a great group, but the FA Cup can be like this and a lot of their [Met Police's] chances were from our own making.
“It wasn’t a performance I was very happy with.”
Flynn reiterated his ideology that feeling disappointed following an important victory for the club shows just how much he demands from his players and, most importantly, what they demand from themselves.
County had the better in all of the statistics that really mattered – goals, shots, shots on target and possession when having 59% of the ball.
It saw them through a potentially tricky opposition, who were looking to reach the Second Round for the first time in their history, and it cannot be underestimated how much of a part the weather did actually play at Imber Court.
Flynn added: “I just want us to get back to everything we have been doing. The way we track runners, the way we close people down, the way we press and move the ball quickly.
“It wasn’t just when we didn’t have possession because it was when we had the ball too, we need to take more chances because let’s not dress it up, we probably should have scored eight today.
“I’m allowed to be disappointed even when we do win and sometimes it’s a good thing because it shows how far we’ve come that I’m disappointed even though we’ve won.
“That’s exactly what I do [set high standards of the players.] I’ve got that much faith and belief within them that when they do fall behind the standards, it’s disappointing.
“Like I said, they are a great group, they listen, they all want to improve so let’s just hope it was a one off.”
The victory means County go straight through to the draw for the Second Round of the competition, which will be shown on BBC Two from 7pm on Monday night.
The Exiles will be ball number 28 and Flynn added: “That’s the main thing [getting through] because it’s a little bit more money for the football club.
“Hopefully we can get a home draw in the next round. I’d love that to be honest, we’ve done a lot of travelling this month already and a home draw is something we all want.
“And let’s not dress it up, we all want to get into the Third Round.”
County’s cup attentions don’t stop there as they have to regroup quickly ready to host Plymouth Argyle in the CheckaTrade Trophy on Tuesday night.
A victory will see the Exiles qualify from the group phase for the first time since the revamp of the competition back in 2016, whilst a victory by four goals or more would also give them the added bonus of a home time in the first knockout round.
Flynn stated: “Possibly [I might make some changes.] I’ve got to have a look at a few and see how they feel tomorrow before picking a team which I think can win the football match on Tuesday.
“I didn’t want to risk Scot Bennett today, didn’t really want to put on Mark O’Brien but I had to in the end.
“I was looking to get Lewis Collins a game, but it just didn’t work out. And that’s what’s disappointing as well because if we would have taken our chances, I could have made that change and gave Lewis his debut in the Emirates FA Cup.
On team-news: “Crofty has been back running this week as well which is good, Joss Labadie isn’t far away.
“Tyler Forbes is out at the minute, Cameron Pring will hopefully be back next weekend. Providing we don’t get any injuries on Tuesday and we have a good week then hopefully, we’ll be in a good position for [Colchester United] on Saturday.”