NEWPORT County AFC manager Michael Flynn believes the red card for Dan Butler changed the game at Meadow Lane and spoiled what had been a good contest in the opening 34 minutes.

Butler was sent off after he was adjudged to have caught Notts County’s Matt Tootle with an elbow as the pair challenged for a high ball.

And the hosts ruthlessly ripped apart the 10-man Exiles, winning 3-0 thanks to a brace from Jorge Grant and one from Shola Ameobi.

They could have doubled that scoreline but Flynn insisted that referee Craig Hicks’ decision was the key moment.

“The referee has got it wrong,” said the Exiles boss. “It changed the game and it spoiled the game.

“I’ve been told by the fourth official that he [Butler] went in with excessive force.

“I don’t think the referee had control of the game to start with,” he added.

“I believe he’s made honest decisions but unfortunately he’s got a lot of key ones wrong.

“And, just to rub salt into the wounds, I’ve watched the third goal again as well and it wasn’t over the line.

“It’s not been a great day.”

South Wales Argus:

Grant opened the scoring two minutes after the red card as he coolly slotted Jon Stead’s throughball past Joe Day.

He then laid on the second for Ameobi on 52 minutes before heading in the third at the second attempt three minutes later.

“The players gave me everything, they worked their socks off, but Notts County smelled blood and they went for it,” said Flynn.

“I thought we were slightly the better team [before the red].

“We’ve played some outstanding football with 10 men as well.

“We conceded some sloppy goals but I’m proud of the players with the attitude and the work ethic that they showed in tough circumstances.”