Forest Green boss Mark Cooper blasted the Rodney Parade pitch but praised the “magnificent effort” of his players in beating Sky Bet League Two promotion rivals Newport 2-0.
The game was pushed back a day to Sunday to give the playing surface a chance to recover from Friday night’s Guinness PRO14 rugby match between the Dragons and Leinster, but it was still a mud and sand trap for the players.
“Whatever the result was we were never going to use the pitch as an excuse and it is the same for both teams. But it shouldn’t be allowed in the Football League in my opinion because it devalues the product,” said Cooper.
“I feel really sorry for Michael Flynn and Newport because the football they played at the start of the season was a breath of fresh air and I told him that before the game. They have now had to drastically change everything they do, which is difficult.
“I feel sorry for them, but I’m delighted for my players – they were magnificent.”
Newport old boy Jamille Matt came back to haunt his former team-mates as he played in Josh Davison for the first goal two minutes before the break and then won and converted a 62nd-minute penalty.
“Jamma has been outstanding for us and he is almost impossible to replace. He gives us a focal point that we haven’t had,” said Cooper.
“If you get Jamma angry he is a dangerous player. It’s just trying to get him angry and sometimes he needs a few slaps around the face before the game to get him going.
“He didn’t have anything to prove today because he was great for Newport and when he left it was just a financial thing.”
A third win in a row moved Forest Green up to within a point of league leaders Cambridge with two games in hand. Even so, Cooper isn’t thinking any further ahead than Wednesday night’s home clash with Southend.
“I know it’s a boring cliche, but it means nothing to me. We’ve still got 18 games to play,” said Cooper.
“It is a vast amount of games in a small space of time and anything can still happen. We have got to keep concentrating.
“We have to be strategic, flexible and all the things we said at the start of the season to deal with anything.”
The stats for Newport, who led the league until the new year, are not as good. They have now picked up only eight points from their past 12 matches and won only once.
“We need to start winning, it’s as simple as that. We made two mistakes, they made none, they won the game, simple as that,” said County manager Flynn.
“I’ve said before that it is going to be tough to create chances on that pitch and it was the same today. The two chances that they had came from our mistakes and that’s why they will probably win the league.
“We’ve got to deal with the pitch, although I will say that is the worst football pitch that I’ve ever been involved with. But we didn’t lose because of the pitch, we lost because of two mistakes.”
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