County play-off chances destroyed
NEWPORT County’s promotion hopes were effectively ended by Dagenham’s smash and grab victory, disappointed Exiles boss Jimmy Dack conceded after this defeat.
Three goals in ten minutes in the final quarter of the contest had the visitors in dreamland, before two injury-time consolation efforts for the Exiles. However, now off the pace in the race for the playoffs, Dack admits Newport lack the requisite quality to get to Wembley.
“It is easy to score two goals when the pressure is off, which is what we did, but while we don’t lack for effort, the quality isn’t there in either penalty box,” he said. “We lack in both boxes, the players do try, but it’s no good doing it when the pressure is off.
“The future is rosy with the young players, they are the way forward, but we are now looking at finishing strongly. Are we a play-off side? It’s evident in the last four games we’ve let that slip. It is what it is.”
Dagenham coach Warren Hackett admitted his side had stolen the points.
“We got a smash and grab type of win, we were 3-0 up but thanks to a little bit of game management and naivety, they nearly got back in it,” he said..
“But we were aiming to take three points and have done so.
“We want to get more than 60 points, which is what we did last season, the players are fighting for their futures as well, so we want to finish strongly and push on.We will do things professionally.”
It wasn’t until the stroke of half-time that Newport looked like breaking the deadlock, but they found visiting goalkeeper Mark Cousins in inspiring form, denying Mark Byrne before a slew of second half saves.
He turned Aaron O’Connor’s effort onto the crossbar and then fingertipped away a Regan Poole effort. The home faithful were growing increasingly edgy at their failure to take their chances and the visitors punished them with ruthless efficiency.
Ashley Hemmings headed the visitors in front before Christian Doidge grabbed a second on the counter.
Cousins made a fourth fantastic save to deny Klukowski and the writing was on the wall for the Exiles, a point underlined when sub Alex Jukubiak added a third, giving the visitors a 100 per cent goal to shots on target ratio.
It ended any hopes of a County play-off berth, meaning a solo effort from David Tutonda in the final seconds couldn’t put a smile on Newport faces, and nor could Aaron O’Connor’s strike at the death.
Sadly for the home faithful, it was too little, too late.
STAR MAN MARK COUSIN