Newport boss Graham Coughlan: I would have probably made 11 changes
Newport boss Graham Coughlan admitted he would have probably changed the entire team at half-time against Walsall if he could, but praised the second-half response to fight back and salvage a 1-1 draw.
After falling behind to Isaac Hutchinson’s sweetly-struck first-half effort, Coughlan made four substitutions at the break.
It paid off when Adam Lewis, who was one of them, delivered the corner for Cameron Norman to head in an equaliser 12 minutes from time against his former club.
“If I was allowed 11 changes, I would have probably made 11 to be honest,” Coughlan said.
“We were leggy, we looked tired, were ambling around, were second to balls, we didn’t win enough first contacts and we were giving so many fouls away, so we had to shake it up.
“We were dead and buried, we were flat, there was no energy about us. I didn’t like what I saw in the first half.
“I suppose the efforts of the last couple of months have maybe taken their toll, but we got away with it, with a draw – and if we had got the basics right near the end we could have won it.”
The draw moved Newport, who are 19th, eight points clear of the bottom two ahead of a midweek trip to third-bottom Hartlepool.
Coughlan added: “Since I have come here, all I have heard was relegation scraps, negativity – we don’t speak like that in the changing room,” Coughlan added.
“We have never once looked over our shoulder – we are trying to build, trying to grow and we aren’t looking anywhere other than what we can catch.”
Walsall, meanwhile, are now winless in six league games, having drawn five, to slip eight points off the play-offs, but do have games in hand.
The Saddlers dominated the first half, but only had Hutchinson’s fine 20-yard strike as reward.
“We haven’t killed teams off when we have had the opportunities and we are getting punished – if we get a second goal, the game’s done,” said Walsall boss Michael Flynn, who faced his hometown club where he spent four years as manager.
“We controlled the game for 65 minutes quite comfortably, created quite a few opportunities, but we lost a lot through sloppy passing and taking too many touches.
“That is something I told them at half-time, I told them before the game and I have told them after the game, so they are very aware of what’s got on my nerves today.”
Flynn added: “We have all got to step up. It is a tough, gruelling schedule and we are looking a little bit out on our feet because the boys are giving everything.
“That is one thing I can’t fault, their commitment and work-rate, is unbelievable.
“We just need to channel it a little bit better, so we create more and give our strikers some ammunition.”
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