Mike Flynn says Newport County AFC got the deserved result in the end after they bounced back from a well below-par first-half to secure a 1-0 victory over Cheltenham Town.
Neither side particularly did anything of note and there was no real impetus forced upon the game until the half-time whistle - both teams guilty of being caught offside on numerous occasions, giving sloppy passes away and struggling to maintain possession.
After a half-time dressing down from Flynn and assistant manager Wayne Hatswell, County regrouped after the break and got the three points the second-half performance deserved on 54 minutes.
It wasn’t the best goal in terms of aesthetics, but the Exiles won’t care as Chris Hussey put the ball into his own net. Cheltenham goalkeeper Scott Flinders made a great save to deny a Padraig Amond lob, although he could only palm the ball onto Hussey’s face and into the net.
Cheltenham didn’t offer too much in the way of a response such was the resilience shown by the Exiles in defence, meaning County made it third time lucky against the Robins this season after two previous defeats.
Flynn affirmed: “I’m going to be completely honest with you, I thought the first-half was one of the worst games of football I’ve ever seen.
“I thought we were terrible, nowhere near, sloppy in possession, weren’t brave in possession because no-one wanted it and even when they did have it, they gave it away. We were beaten in the air, kicking balls out of play, no thought process, it was awful.
“I don’t want to be associated with that and I told them that at half-time in no uncertain terms. Wayne Hatswell told them in no uncertain terms that we weren’t having that.
“To be fair, we had a good response second-half and I thought the substitutes did very well when they came on.”
Amond was certainly claiming it was his goal during his own post-match interview, but it looks like it’ll be one destined for the dubious goal panel after the ball was deflected in different directions twice after the Irishman’s touch, first off Flinders then Hussey.
Flynn commented: “It was an own-goal, but it was forced by some good play by Podge and Ade following it in. They put him [Chris Hussey] under pressure.
“I thought we deserved to win the game. Should have scored a second and a third as well.”
It was a much more polished performance from the Exiles after the break where they looked more like themselves and just as good as they have been for the majority of the campaign.
The scoreline could have been made more comfortable as well but Flinders did well to thwart Jamille Matt when he rushed in on goal, Mickey Demetriou miscued a shot and Robbie Willmott’s header only just went wide of the far post.
Flynn continued: “Pipey came on and did very well, Josh Sheehan looked to try and get on the ball. But for me, Jamille Matt was excellent.
“He ran his socks off, Ade did the same, Podge has done that role which he’s done a few times for us now and I thought he did it very well.
“The second-half was really pleasing.”
County were missing virtually an entire midfield for the contest as Joss Labadie, Matty Dolan and captain Andrew Crofts all sat out.
Flynn explained: “Joss just felt his hamstring and he was a little bit stiff in the morning. I could have risked him, he wants to play all the time, but it wasn’t worth it with the two week break now.
“I need a healthy squad going into the final important games of the season and it wasn’t worth risking anything with that one.
“With Matty, not only is his hamstring sore but he’s just walked in and he’s got a tooth infection, so he looks like Quagmire off Family Guy.”
With next weekend’s tie against Oldham Athletic called off due to international call-ups for the Latics, County now have a 15-day break before the next fixture away at Yeovil Town.
Flynn stated: “It’s a refresher and it gives Labz, Crofty and Matty Dolan a chance to all be back for the Yeovil Town game.
“It’s a pleasant surprise for us as long as we go and back it up when we return.
“I trust the players. They’ll all be sent a programme to do over the next couple of days and they’ll just have a long weekend. That’s it. I think they’ve earnt it.”
A nice break for the players but no so much for Flynn who will be currently on his way to Windsor for the next few days.
He was certainly in a jovial atmosphere during his post-match press conference and he explained why he won’t be watching this afternoon’s crucial Six Nations contest between Wales and Ireland.
He joked: “I haven’t got a week off because I’m going to Legoland for the week. I can’t wait.
“I won’t be watching the Wales game. I’ve got to build a Lego castle!”
NEXT UP | The next away trip for the Exiles is down to Huish Park for a fixture with Yeovil Town. Ticket news to be confirmed by both clubs imminently.
ON PARADE | It’s three weeks until County next return to Rodney Parade when they will face Tranmere Rovers on 6th April. Tickets to be made available on the club website shortly.