NEWPORT County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh admits his players let him down in Tuesday’s defeat to Yate Town and he singled out goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley as the worst culprit.
County crashed out of the FA Cup, beaten 3-1 after extra-time by a side 90 places below them in the non-league pyramid, and lost their unbeaten record at Rodney Parade into the bargain.
Edinburgh was disappointed with the performance of his whole team, as well as referee Paul Rees who sent off Exiles captain David Pipe.
But he believes Pidgeley’s push on Mitchell Page to concede a penalty with 20 minutes to go was the turning point, rather than his skipper’s red card.
Tom Knighton scored from the spot to cancel out Aaron O’Connor’s opener before Scott Thomas and Matt Groves sealed victory in extra-time.
“You have to give credit to Yate and we wish them all the best in the next round but we’re bitterly disappointed,” said the Exiles boss.
“We let ourselves down. But you can’t, as a manager, legislate for what Lenny’s done.
“I never felt we were in any danger in the game but we had a mad couple of minutes with Pipey getting sent off and then Lenny pushes the boy in the box for the penalty and we’re up against it.
“The penalty was the turning point, there’s no doubt about that. Lenny’s got the ball in his hands and he doesn’t need to touch the player.
“As a manager you can’t legislate for that. People have a rush of blood to the head and if you raise your hand on the football pitch then you know what can happen.”
Edinburgh also felt Pidgeley was to blame for Yate’s second goal.
“I thought we had some good chances in extra-time and were looking good but obviously we got stretched in the end,” he said.
“The second goal was poor. Lenny knows he should have dealt with the corner.
“He’s been outstanding for us this year but the last couple of games he’s made a couple of mistakes and you know as a goalkeeper mistakes will cost us.
“The ref played his part as well,” he added. “I thought Pipey’s second booking was a coming together rather than him taking the player out.
“Still, even with 10 men, I didn’t think there was a problem but incidents change games and the penalty gave them a real lift.”
Edinburgh kept his players in the dressing room for 20 minutes after the final whistle and couldn’t conceal his anger.
“I can’t stand here and defend the players,” he said, “I’ve got to question my players and that hurts but they know they haven’t performed.
“They’ve conceded six goals in two games against Yate and that is almost half of what we’ve conceded in 15 games in the league.
“My players haven’t delivered what is expected of them and that is what disappoints me most.”
The squad gathered at their Spytty Park training base yesterday morning to watch the match back on video and Edinburgh made it clear that there can be no repeat when Woking come to town on Saturday.
He continued: “Good teams bounce back.
“We’ve got three of our next four games at home and we’ve got to lift this crowd again and get some results to stay up the top of that league.
“Saturday will tell me a lot about these players. I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get a response.
“We’ve got a small squad and hopefully we’ll have one or two back for Saturday.
“We hope Ismail and Danny will be fit because they’re good players but we’ll have to wait and see.
“We need to focus on Woking now and make sure we get back on track.”