Mike Flynn has admitted that his Newport County AFC team were beaten by the better side after falling to a 4-1 defeat against Crawley Town at Broadfield Stadium.
In what was County’s first away defeat in League Two since the opening day of the season, the home side certainly started proceedings on the front foot and took the lead within the opening minute.
Josh Payne did well to dictate the move from central-midfield, using his quick feet to get past his marker and spread the ball out-wide, right-back Lewis Young got to the ball and whipped an inviting delivery into the area for Joe Maguire to score his first professional goal.
Crawley goalkeeper Glenn Morris had already denied Antoine Semenyo before the goal, the 18-year old the brightest spark from an attacking sense in the first-half, but the Exiles had to rely on the heroics from Joe Day to keep the score to one before half-time.
Captain Filipe Morais, the midfield general who controlled most of the play, and Luke Gambin were both denied twice by the shot stopper, while Ollie Palmer dragged a shot wide.
County predictably rallied after the restart and after birthday boy Jamille Matt twice narrowly missed the far corner with glancing headers, the striker turned to his feet and equalised after 59 minutes.
Pinball in the area was eventually halted by Semenyo’s desire to get in and dig the ball out, teeing up his attacking partner who spun Mark Connolly inside out before rifling a shot past Morris.
Crawley hit back from there when insisting they would not rue the plethora of chances created before County’s equaliser and they secured the three points with a trio of quick-fire goals.
After Fraser Franks was adjudged to have pulled down Ollie Palmer in the area, Morais sent Day the wrong way to restore the lead, before Palmer then got in on the act himself when meeting a George Francomb delivery at the far post.
Substitute Ashley Nathaniel-George completed the scoring with a fine solo effort that resulted in a crisp 25-yard strike – and Flynn couldn’t argue post-match that Crawley deserved the result based on the game as a whole.
“I’m disappointed with the performance,” he affirmed.
“We were forced into a lot of changes, I won’t be using that as an excuse, but it did derail what we had been doing.
“I’ve got to give credit to Crawley Town because they were very good today. You always learn things in every game but unfortunately, this was a frustrating afternoon.
“Some of the goals we conceded weren’t good enough. We got beat by the better team, simple as that really.”
After scoring the Football League’s quickest goal last weekend, County this time conceded one of the inaugural goals of the day when Fleetwood Town loanee Maguire struck.
Talking about the slow start, Flynn continued: “I haven’t got much hair to pull out thankfully but yeah, we can’t start the way we did because it’s not good enough.
“I can’t put my finger on it, 59 seconds I think it was and we had a shot just before it. Not good enough unfortunately.
“Believe me, we don’t intend to start like that but of course it concerns me that we conceded so early.
“We showed a lot of character to get back into the game and I thought we were the better team leading up to 1-1. The penalty changed everything again obviously and they finished us off.
“The build-up for the penalty was the frustrating thing because we should have cleared the ball, there was no-one in-front when they had the throw-in, so they were allowed to throw it straight into the players feet.
“It’s not good enough and they’ve just been told that.”
After fighting so hard to stem the flow of Crawley chances when netting the equaliser, County had to do something similar when trying to react to Morais’ penalty just after the hour.
The goal seemed to invite the Crawley captain to play with more freedom and confidence, meaning County had to go a bit more adventurous and were ultimately caught on the break.
Flynn stated: “After the second goal, we did go and try to chase the game. That’s why we were a little bit more exposed than usual – we tried to get ourselves back in the game and even though it’s disappointing that we conceded more, I can see why we did.”
It’s always difficult to pick out positives from an away defeat but the performance from Day was again outstanding.
The five or six smart saves in the first-half were followed by a similar figure after the break, including an unbelievable stop in stoppage time when the goalkeeper somehow got a hand to a Palmer effort when he was initially going the wrong way.
Flynn affirmed: “If it wasn’t for Joe Day in the first-half then I think it could have been five or six.
“Joe Day was outstanding in that first-half. That allowed us to get back into it in the second-half, we were the better team [for a spell] but the penalty obviously changed things. It’s frustrating.”
Having bagged the equaliser on his birthday, Jamille Matt’s eighth goal of the campaign means it’s already his second best goal return for a Football League season.
Flynn commented: “I fancied us after Jamille scored for 1-1, we were the better team.
“Jamille was feeling his hip flexor so that’s why we had to take him off. 4-1 down there was no point risking him further so we had to take him off.”
The Exiles now have a short window to dust themselves down ready to go again at Bury FC on Tuesday night.
Matt may now join an injury list that already contains Tyler Forbes, Mark O’Brien Keanu Marsh-Brown, Andrew Crofts, Tyreeq Bakinson, Robbie Willmott and Matty Dolan.
But Flynn is confident that the club’s top goal scorer so far this season will be fit to keep his place in the starting line-up in midweek – alongside welcoming back a couple of players as well.
He concluded: “Bury FC have had a great result today as-well so it’s going to be a tough one. We’ve just got to knuckle down and try to get some players back for the game and hang in there.
“I’m sure the players will bounce back – we’ve lost three points today, got to get back to the drawing board and hopefully we'll have a few more players back.”
NEXT UP| We travel to Bury FC. Ticket information for this match can be found here.
AFTER THAT| Rodney Parade is welcoming ghosts and ghouls for our halloween match vs Morecambe. Tickets available here.