When Newport substitute George Nurse came off the bench with just three minutes left of normal time on Saturday afternoon little did he know that he was about to write himself into Rodney Parade folklore at the same time as breaking Carlisle hearts.
What will most likely be the best goal he’ll ever score left his boot with the time recorded at 95 minutes and 50 seconds and it left the Cumbrians, who had dominated the game, with absolutely no time to recover from what was a real killer blow.
When asked how it had felt to watch his side lose in such a cruel way, manager Steven Pressley said: “The truth is, since I came here, that was our most complete away performance.
“We were terrific in all aspects. Not only the defensive work we’d carried out, but also the breaks, the opportunities we created, we always looked the team likely to score.
“To lose a goal not in the last minute of the five added on but beyond that, 95 and 50 seconds, is devastating. I’m devastated for the players.
“I said before the game that the small details, the things we’d worked on would help us but the winning of the game would still be down to the players. They did everything that was asked of them.
“Everything bar finishing off a couple of good opportunities and the last moment was the only moment in the entirety of the 90 minutes that we went back on the first ball, and I’m devastated about that.
“Look, it’s a lesson for us. Sometimes in these moments you go back and you go deeper because you think you’re protecting your goal. The thing is, everything we’d been doing all game was about defending on the front foot, and that was the only occasion we didn’t carry that on. I was really disappointed because to a man our team was exceptional.”
When pushed on what it was like to take nothing from the encounter, he told us: “It was a great performance, it really was. Getting nothing from it is hard to take.
“But we lick our wounds, we go again, and the good thing is we can take real confidence from the display. To come here and give up virtually no opportunities is a really good sign for us.
“We’d kept two clean sheets in our last three and we should now be talking about three in four, because that’s how well the lads performed. We were excellent in possession and we created numerous chances. Obviously we are all really disappointed but there’s a lot we can take from it.”
With some very good opportunities carved out from some excellent passages of play it was perhaps the one criticism from the display that the Blues hadn’t put daylight between themselves and their opponents before that last ditch thunderbolt flew into the back of the net.
“We created some big moments and unfortunately we didn’t capitalise,” the manager conceded. “There wasn’t a period where I never felt comfortable in the game which, as I keep saying, is the really disappointing aspect.
“Their manager [Michael Flynn] just said to me that we were robbed and he’s right. But ultimately for all our efforts we go away with no points. That’s the statistic that matters right now.”
With the players visibly rocked the United boss admitted that the immediate task was to make sure the positives of the day are used as a springboard and that confidence isn’t dented by the manner of the defeat.
“We can only look on the positives, because there were so many,” he insisted. “It’s given me great encouragement, because we’ve come to one of the hardest grounds in the league and played exceptionally well.
“We have to take confidence from that. It was a really assured performance. I don’t think there was a disappointment today. The back three, Byron Webster was outstanding, Nat Knight-Percival had probably his best game of the season and Gethin Jones is a really consistent performer for us.
“I’m devastated for the group. I asked for a certain type of performance and they gave me everything and more. We imposed our game on them and that’s why I’m feeling a little bit down here.
“I’ve said to them one lapse of concentration in the last seconds cost us the game, cost us our best performance away from home. That’s the margins. It’s certainly not in terms of how we performed – on that only one team deserved to win today and we have to be encouraged by that.”
A return to the starting line-up for Hallam Hope was cut short when he took a whack on the leg from Kyle Howkins which could easily have led to a second yellow and a sending off for the big defender.
“I agree, it absolutely should have been a red card, but we think Hallam will be fine,” he said. “He gave a really good performance and he looks hungry again. He was determined and fully committed, and I’m really pleased for him.
“He did take a knock but we think he’ll recover quickly, so the wounds today are more mental wounds than physical wounds. It’s my job to make sure we all recover from that so that we’re ready to go again when we play Crewe at home on Saturday.”
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