Mike Flynn says he can’t fault the effort of his Newport County AFC players but again bemoaned lack of clinicality in both boxes as the Exiles suffered their first home defeat of 2019 in a 1-0 reverse to MK Dons.
The Exiles seemingly controlled proceedings throughout at Rodney Parade but somehow couldn’t find the target on a frustrating evening as they hit the woodwork on four occasions and found Stuart Moore in inspired form.
Inside the opening 23 minutes, Tyreeq Bakinson saw a menacing shot tipped over the top by away goalkeeper Moore, Robbie Willmott almost dinked the shot stopper with a cross-shot, and Jamille Matt wasn’t too far away with a header towards the far post.
Mickey Demetriou then thumped a header onto the crossbar as County were really trying to utilise crosses into the area from Robbie Willmott and Regan Poole.
Into the second-half and the pressure from the Exiles didn’t ease up – Bakinson made a menacing 45-yard run before smashing a shot off the crossbar, whilst Fraser Franks and Ben Kennedy were also denied by the woodwork following more crosses being pumped into the area.
It’s an old cliché but inability to get yourself in-front always has a habit of coming back to haunt you and MK Dons eased their poor recent form by snatching all three points with two minutes remaining.
The introduction of Chuks Aneke gave the away side more firepower going forward and the attacker broke Exiles hearts when tapping home from a few yards out after Joe Day initially made a superb save to thwart fellow substitute Jake Hesketh.
“We can’t kill teams off,” Flynn affirmed.
“I can’t fault the player’s efforts, their quality at times was excellent but when you have that amount of chances – gilt edged chances as well – you can see why our goal difference is negative.
“There’s been a lot of times this season where I’ve said that we haven’t been ruthless enough in both boxes. We weren’t ruthless again because I thought we were by far the better team but that means nothing when you lose the game.
“Listen, it’s not all doom and gloom. I don’t get too carried away when we win and I’m not getting carried away and despondent now we’ve lost.
“On another night we win that football match comfortably. Sometimes it’s just not your night.
“If we had taken even a quarter of our chances, we’d have been comfortably out of sight.”
It wasn’t for lack of trying at Rodney Parade from the Exiles but they couldn’t turn dominance into goals and were ultimately undone at the end.
But Flynn didn’t have any qualms about the players’ effort throughout the game, only that they didn’t take the numerous chances created.
He continued: “Their effort was fantastic. Their quality – apart from the finishing obviously – was excellent.
“The amount of crosses Robbie put into the box, Regan Poole as well, there were some really outstanding bits of play and it would have been nice just to finish them off.
“First-half, we put 27 crosses into the box – surely the law of averages says you should get on the end of and score one or two of them.
“It’s a frustrating night because we lost Ade Azeez in the warm-up, he felt his hamstring so that’s why I couldn’t get him on.
“You start thinking then that it’s not going to be your night and it wasn’t.
“We’ve had a lot of good performances this season and had no points. We created enough chances to win five football games and we didn’t win one. That’s why we are where we are.”
There were two changes to the matchday team sheet ahead of the game and Flynn confirmed that both absentees were missing through minor injuries.
“Joss Labadie woke up with a stiff neck so he was ruled out,” Flynn confirmed.
“Mark O’Brien was a little bit stiff just where he’s played so many games now since he’s come back from injury.
“They were the only two changes I could make and like I said, I would have liked to have put Ade Azeez on but wasn’t able to because he felt his hamstring in the warm-up.”
On team-news ahead of Saturday: “Andrew Crofts is out, he’s injured and he’ll be out for about a month having felt his calf on Saturday warming up.
“Tyler Forbes should be okay and Joss will be alright – unless it’s the longest stiff neck in the world.
“Harry McKirdy is back training tomorrow and he could feature on Saturday.
“There’s no tough decisions at all really. I know near enough what I’m doing so no tough ones.”
The Exiles won’t need any more motivation to get back to winning ways than knowing their next match is against current Premier League champions Manchester City in the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round.
Flynn said: “It’s a big build-up but it would have been so much better going into the game with three points which I thought we thoroughly deserved.
“I would have preferred three points because it would have put us in a really good position.
“Look, Saturday is something to look forward to now this is out of the way.
“It’s a disappointing way to go into it because like I said we should have won the football match, we were the better team.
“We’ve just got to go on a run of games where we win four or five. That was a great opportunity to set up a good run and look, it’s frustrating but we go on to Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday and keep going.”