Mike Flynn says it will be good for his Newport County AFC squad to have a midweek break after a gruelling schedule of fixtures every three or four days concluded in a 2-0 defeat at automatic promotion contenders MK Dons.
The Exiles just ran out of steam at Stadium MK following the succession of tough fixtures in recent weeks and were ultimately made to pay for their lack of clinicality when going forward.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between for both sides and it required the very best of saves from Joe Day to thwart Kieran Agard’s penalty kick to get County in at the break level.
Jamille Matt wasn’t too far away with a header just after the restart but MK Dons always had the greater ascendency on proceedings and broke the deadlock on 57 minutes.
Again Day made a tremendous save from a glancing Agard header but County switched off from the resulting corner-kick, the ball was worked well into the lively Conor McGrandles and he crossed for Ousseynou Cisse to head into the bottom corner.
As the game progressed, so did County’s need for a goal, but they were ultimately caught on the break late on as MK Dons kept their automatic promotion hopes alive with the second just before the indication of stoppage time.
The home side quickly countered a County attack and when Chuks Aneke came out the better from a duel with Mickey Demetriou, he picked his spot and calmly confirmed the points with a goal that draws him level alongside Agard as MK Dons top scorer.
Those goals ultimately condemned County to defeat at Stadium MK – and Flynn didn’t have too many complaints with the result on a frustrating afternoon for the Exiles.
He affirmed: “It’s always disappointing when you lose the game and I think we were just a bit flat today.
“It was probably one too many for them this week, it’s caught up with them – we huffed and puffed but we weren’t our usual dynamic self.
“It’s hard to put your finger on but I think we chose the wrong options throughout the game. I don’t think we got hold of the midfield area either so it was frustrating.
“And the two goals we conceded weren’t good enough.”
He added: “I told them at half-time that they would have to go out and raise themselves because you could see it was flat.
“I felt sorry for the forwards the most because they’ve played all season and they give their heart and souls game in game out, day in day out with the amount of running they do.
“I felt for them and that’s why we tried to change it up. But we didn’t have too many clear-cut chances and the ones we did have, we put wide.”
The Exiles can now look forward to a well-deserved break in midweek where the side can rest and recuperate ahead of the final 13 fixtures of the campaign.
He continued: “We’ve had Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday for four or five weeks now and with everything going on, it’s tough for them.
“I’m just gutted we weren’t able to build on Tuesday’s great performance, but it is what it is. We got what we deserved because we didn’t do enough to win the game.
“That’s the frustrating thing but it’s not the worst performance we’ve had. It just wasn’t what I was looking for. We’ve lost to a team that probably deserved it in the end.”
After the midweek break, the fixtures don’t ease up for the Exiles as they face another play-off contender in Carlisle United at Rodney Parade next Saturday.
The Cumbrians slipped out of the top-seven with a draw at another play-off rival in Colchester United yesterday, but they’re only a point away from fifth and will be desperate for the points in South Wales.
County, meanwhile, slipped eight points adrift of Exeter City in the final play-off position, and while they don’t have a game in hand over the Grecians, they do on the other teams currently composing the play-offs.
“Never say never until it’s mathematically not possible,” Flynn remarked.
“We’ve got a tough game next weekend now against Carlisle United and we need to win it.
“Carlisle have had a great season so far and it’s going to be a tough game.”
NEXT UP | County return home to South Wales on 2nd March 2019 for the visit of fellow play-off contenders Carlisle United. Buy tickets here and pack the Parade.
ON THE ROAD | It’s the long trip to Essex for yet another clash with a top-seven side as County take on Colchester United on 9th March. Tickets can be purchased here or from the club shop.
AFTER THAT | The away trips don’t get much shorter as it’s a Tuesday trip to Northampton Town on 12th March 2019. Ticket information to be released on all club channels soon.