JUSTIN Edinburgh described this result as a wake-up call for his Newport County AFC players and for the club’s fans and it’s hard to disagree.

It was easy for everyone, including the press and radio pundits, to get carried away with talk of promotion after watching County win seven of their last eight games to climb to third in League Two.

Nobody predicted a 4-0 hammering at Cambridge United, particularly as the hosts were supposed to be distracted by next week’s FA Cup tie against Manchester United.

But should we be so surprised that the Exiles’ great run of results came to an end in such dramatic fashion?

And does this crushing defeat spell the end of their promotion chances?

In short, no and no.

Looking back at the victories over Portsmouth, Carlisle United and Cheltenham Town in recent weeks, perhaps the signs were there.

Edinburgh’s men won all three of those games without producing anything like their best.

They ground out the wins admirably and bagged nine vital points but better teams would have punished them.

It’s probably fair to say that they haven’t performed consistently well since the Boxing Day defeat of Plymouth Argyle.

Neither the manager nor the players could explain why they performed quite so poorly in Cambridge, however.

If the home game against the U’s was County’s best display of the season so far, this was comfortably the worst 90 minutes to date.

Edinburgh denied that the rumours linking him with the Gillingham job had been a distraction for him or the squad as a whole.

But it certainly can’t have helped in the preparations and if the speculation affected the focus by even five per cent then it was a factor.

What is certain is that nearly every player failed to reach the high standards they have set in the first five months of the campaign.

It’s hard to think of any player in a red shirt, or a luminous green one in Joe Day’s case, who can be entirely happy with how they performed.

Day was beaten four times and had little protection from his three centre-backs all afternoon.

The attacking threat of wing-backs Andy Sandell and Ryan Jackson was largely nullified and the midfield three were outnumbered and ineffective.

Up front Aaron O’Connor and Chris Zebroski barely had a sniff of goal and both showed their frustration by picking up bookings in the first half.

It also must be pointed out that the hosts were very impressive as they pressed County high up the pitch and looked a constant threat with the pace and clever movement of their front men.

They could and probably should have been 3-0 up after 20 minutes and were by no means flattered by the final score.

Debutant Cameron McGeehan – a player who reportedly commanded a fee of £80,000 as a 10-year-old – was the standout performer.

The Norwich City attacking midfielder, now 19, hit the bar after just five minutes and opened the scoring seven minutes later with a low drive into the bottom corner.

Fellow loan star Sullay Kaikai drilled the second into the same corner just before the break having earlier missed a golden chance to double the lead as the Exiles defence parted like the Red Sea.

The third was a tap-in for McGeehan from a Ryan Donaldson cross just after the hour mark and Liam Hughes smashed in the fourth after his header had rebounded off the post 11 minutes from time.

It completed a miserable afternoon for the 284 travelling fans but, just as we shouldn’t get too carried away with success, we can’t read too much into a single defeat.

Just before Christmas the team suffered a similarly demoralising 3-0 loss at Luton Town and responded with four wins on the spin.

Two years ago, on New Year’s Day 2013, County were humiliated 5-0 at Rodney Parade by Forest Green Rovers in the Conference.

They went on to win promotion on that glorious day at Wembley and are now, even after this weekend, fifth in League Two.

Cambridge: Dunn; Tait, Coulson, Nelson, Taylor; Donaldson (Dunk, 67), Champion, McGeehan, Hughes, Kaikai (Chiedozie, 80); Elliott (Bird, 71)

Subs not used: Norris, Miller, Hunt, Simpson

Booked: Chiedozie

County: Day; Jackson, Yakubu, Jones, Poole, Sandell (Parker, 64); Chapman (Porter, 78), Byrne, Minshull (Klukowski, 61); Zebroski, O’Connor

Subs not used: Stephens, Feely, Jeffers, Flynn

Booked: Jackson, O'Connor, Zebroski

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Attendance: 6,076 (284 County)