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James Rowberry still confident of Newport reaching play-offs following defeat

James Rowberry’s Newport lost on Friday night (Bradley Collyer/PA)
James Rowberry’s Newport lost on Friday night (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Newport manager James Rowberry insists he has not yet given up hope of his team making the League Two play-offs, despite Friday night’s 2-1 home defeat to Colchester leaving them 10th with only two games to go.

Dom Telford – the fourth tier’s top scorer – ended a 10-game goal drought with his 26th of the season to put the hosts 1-0 up after 40 minutes.

And it could have been 2-0 before the break when Rob Street appeared to be bundled over in the box, but referee Tom Reeves was unmoved.

Substitute John Akinde levelled moments after coming on in the 68th minute when Freddie Sears’ shot hit the striker and wrong-footed Newport goalkeeper Joe Day.

And Akinde then turned provider for Noah Chilvers to sweep home the winner after 77 minutes that condemned Rowberry’s men to a fourth-successive home defeat.

“You never know,” said Rowberry. “You never know what happens (on Saturday) and we’ve still got points to play for.

“I never give up hope on anything. We’ve seen some crazy things in football. If there’s that glimmer of hope, I’ll hold on to it. I think we’ll know at 5.15 (on Saturday).”

The result leaves the Exiles three points off the top seven having played at least one game more than all their fellow promotion hopefuls, but the manager is not ready to write off the season yet.

Reflecting on the latest setback, which means his side have collected just four points from the last 21 available, he added: “It’s disappointing.

“Ultimately, we’ve let ourselves down with individual errors that cost us the goals.

“Tactically, they’ve not done anything to break us down or hurt us, it’s just individual errors that cost us.

“I thought our first half was excellent and our second half wasn’t. And, in many ways, that’s the story of my time here – we can’t really put two halves together.

“Ultimately, it wasn’t good enough.”

In contrast, Colchester first-team coach Dave Hussey was delighted by his side’s second-half showing.

“It was a brilliant fightback,” said Hussey. “To beat a team who are going for the play-offs 2-1 is a great result.

“They were better than us in the last 15 minutes of the first half and they punished us, which the better teams in the league do.

“But second half we were better and we looked a real threat going forward towards the end.

“We got the reaction. The gaffer woke them up and we got the reaction. That’s the positive thing.”

Hussey picked out Akinde for special praise, adding: “He changed the game for us.

“He brings a different dynamic when he comes on and I was delighted for him to get the goal.”