Mike Flynn admitted that Newport County AFC weren’t good enough over the 90 minutes to warrant taking anything from the game as they fell to a 3-2 defeat away at Crewe Alexandra.
County struggled for any sort of ascendency in a first-half where chances came at a premium for both sides, but Crewe had the running of the Exiles out wide and took the lead on 34 minutes.
Right-back Perry Ng – who stood out throughout the contest from an attacking sense – surged down his flank before cutting the ball back for Chris Porter. The 35-year old sent a deft flick into strike partner Jordan Bowery, he skipped the last-ditch challenge from Mickey Demetriou and fired through the legs of Joe Day.
The Railwaymen continued to control proceedings for the inaugural stages of the second-half, and not for the first time, Day had to come to County’s rescue when repelling Ng with his shins then tipping a powerful George Ray header over the crossbar.
With the contest seemingly heading for one result, Flynn went to his substitutions and they instantly paid dividends by turning the game on its head with goals on 65 and 76 minutes.
Crewe defender Harry Pickering only air-kicked Tyreeq Bakinson’s high ball into the penalty area, that meant Antoine Semenyo had a clear sighting at goal and the 19-year old capped off a fine week individually by placing a shot into the far corner.
All of a sudden Crewe were becoming anxious and another failed clearance gave County the lead. Ng somehow kicked back towards his goalkeeper when trying to clear, Jamille Matt got in first to win the aerial duel with Ben Garratt and Padraig Amond was able to scramble home for his 17th of the campaign.
But the Railwaymen have an imperious home form – they had won eight and drawn two out of 13 before the visit from County – and they themselves were able to overturn a deficit to snatch all three points late on.
On 88 minutes, Porter held his nerve from the penalty spot to level proceedings after Fraser Franks was adjudged to have committed a foul in the area, before two minutes into stoppage time, two saves from Day and a goal line clearance from Dan Butler wasn’t enough as Callum Ainley stabbed home at the fourth attempt.
Flynn said: “This is fact, this is not an excuse – the wind played a big factor and that’s why we were the better team in the second half.
“We probably should have gone in [at half-time] more than one nil down. I thought Crewe deserved a 2-0 lead in the first-half. We were nowhere near first-half and it’s not good enough - you can imagine my frustration.
“We got back into it, but I can’t make any excuses for the two goals we conceded at the end – they were poor goals. We just couldn’t defend today and it’s as simple as that.”
Flynn continued: “I am angry because we keep on making the same mistakes. I don’t want to say too much about it, I’m angry, and I’ll speak to the players behind closed doors.
“I’ve told the boys that they collapsed. But we’ve just got to keep going, keep working and try to fix it.
“Look, we should have seen the game out. Crewe didn’t really look like scoring second-half then they go and get two in four minutes on 88 and 90+2. It’s not good enough.”
It’s always difficult to find positives from such a heart-breaking defeat, especially virtually straight after the final whistle, but Flynn was able to offer some points of optimism from the performance.
He affirmed: “I thought Tyreeq Bakinson did very well [after he came on,] Scot Bennett was good protecting the defence and he did a lot of running off the ball as well.
“Jamille Matt put a good shift in and Antoine second-half was decent.”
The Exiles stay 13th in the table following the defeat in Cheshire, eight points off the play-off positions but with a game in hand, and Flynn was again left to rue a missed opportunity when dropping more points.
He explained: “You look at the last three league games against Crawley, Stevenage and now Crewe, we should be on an extra eight points.
“It’s not an excuse, this is not me saying we should have because we don’t deal in should haves in football.
“If we had a bit more about us then we’d have another eight points, as simple as that really.”
The squad now have a full week’s training and recovery before they go again in League Two against Exeter City at Rodney Parade.
“I’ve got to pick the players up now,” Flynn commented.
“I’ve got to get them going because they are going to be down. They are my players and I’ll do everything to help them.
“We need to start cutting out mistakes and start delivering because we’re too inconsistent at the moment.”
AT HOME | County return to Rodney Parade on 19th January 2019 when hosting fellow promotion contenders Exeter City. Click here for match tickets.
AFTER THAT | County will be looking to reach the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup for just the second time in their history when they travel to Championship outfit Middlesbrough. Ticket details will be announced next week but you can click here for the initial club announcement.
ON THE ROAD IN LEAGUE TWO | It’s the long trip to Lincolnshire to face Grimsby Town on 2nd February 2019. Ticket details & prices to be confirmed shortly.