Coughlan concedes ‘better team won’ as Newport went down 2-0 at Mansfield
Newport County boss Graham Coughlan conceded his team were second best in the 2-0 defeat at Mansfield.
A Davis Keillor-Dunn brace secured the Stags their fifth straight win during an unbeaten run which has stretched to 17 league matches.
He gave the hosts the ideal start as he swept home a loose ball in the box after just four minutes as the visitors struggled to clear an Oates cross.
Oates then won and missed a penalty in the 31st minute.
Brought down by Scot Bennett, Oates’ low central spot-kick was saved by Nick Townsend.
But Townsend was beaten again after 51 minutes as Keillor-Dunn tucked away a cutting pass from George Maris and had several chances to complete a hat-trick.
The visitors did come into the game more after the break following a one-sided first half, but Stags defended superbly when needed.
Mansfield climbed to second in the table after the result against the injury-hit visitors.
“The better team won. We don’t have any arguments with that. Fair play to them – we weren’t very good,” Coughlan said.
“We were poor with the ball and didn’t ask enough questions. We got a little bit of momentum in the second half, having changed our system a bit. That was the time we needed to score a goal and we didn’t.
“Probably the most disappointing thing is that we had the ball for both of their goals. We had good possession, but gave it away and turned it over too easily and quickly.
“When you do that against good teams you get punished – and we did get punished.
“I would have liked to see us pick up a goal and make it a nervy last 15-20 minutes. It might have been different last part of the season.”
Stags boss Nigel Clough described the unbeaten run, which extends to 18 games, including the final game last season, as “brilliant”.
“That is five wins in a row and we have to do that if you’re going to keep pace with the other sides up there you have to keep churning out the wins.
“It was a good solid three points and a clean sheet. These are the ones that are very important come the end of the season – and it wasn’t straightforward today.
“The Rhys Oates penalty miss was a huge point in the game as if we’d got the 2-0 lead after half an hour we’d maybe go on and win a bit more comfortably.
“They came back out for the second half and changed their tactics. They came at us rather than sitting back and they had a couple of moments in the second half as did we. So I was most pleased with the clean sheet.”
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