NEWPORT County manager Mike Flynn was angry with referee Craig Hicks after his side’s heavy defeat at Notts County, claiming a controversial red card for Dan Butler changed the game.
The defender was sent off after just 34 minutes for leading with his elbow as he challenged for a high ball.
And the hosts took full advantage to storm to victory as they over-ran 10-man Newport.
Jorge Grant scored either side of half-time and set up former Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi for the second in between.
And it could have been more, but for some heroics in the Newport goal from Joe Day.
But Flynn insisted that the red card changed the course of the game and he did not agree with the referee’s decision.
“The referee has got it wrong,” he said. “It changed the game and it spoiled the game.
“I don’t think he had control of the game to start with.
“I believe he’s made honest decisions, but unfortunately he’s got a lot of key ones wrong.
“I’ve been told by the fourth official that he (Butler) went in with excessive force.
“It’s unfortunate that the game’s been spoiled because Notts County are a good team and they don’t need much help.
“And, just to rub salt into the wounds, I’ve watched the third goal again as well and it wasn’t over the line. It’s not been a great day.”
Grant’s first goal came two minutes after Butler’s dismissal as he was fed by Jon Stead before firing past Day and into the bottom corner.
Grant squared for Ameobi to slam home on 52 minutes and then nodded in the third on the line three minutes later after Day had saved his first effort at point-blank range.
The hosts could have hit six before the end, with Grant denied a hattrick by the bar and Day saving from Shaun Brisley and Stead.
But Flynn praised his players’ efforts in against the new League Two leaders.
“I thought we were slightly the better team before the red,” he said.
“We’ve played some outstanding football with 10 men as well.
“We conceded some sloppy goals but I’m proud of the players with the attitude and the work ethic that they showed in tough circumstances.”
Flynn’s men drop to eighth and will attempt to bounce back when they host League One Walsall in the FA Cup next Saturday. NEWPORT: Day; White, Bennett, Demetriou; Willmott, Dolan, Tozer, Butler; Rigg (Barnum-Bobb, 46); Nouble (Reynolds, 74), Amond (McCoulsky, 46) SUBS NOT USED: Bittner, OwenEvans, Quigley, Jackson REFEREE: Craig Hicks ATTENDANCE: 6,019