THE past week has been a textbook case of coming back down to earth with a bump for Newport County AFC.

Seven days ago County boss Michael Flynn and his players were rightly lapping up the praise for an outstanding display in holding Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur to a draw at a raucous Rodney Parade.

But, after a disappointing night at Lincoln City on Tuesday, this was the Exiles’ poorest performance since the Boxing Day defeat at Wycombe Wanderers.

Flynn’s men at least created chances at Sincil Bank but they never looked like scoring at Colchester United and they repeated the mistakes at the back that proved so costly in midweek.

The atmosphere at the Weston Home Community Stadium could hardly have been more different to the pride and the passion overflowing from the stands during the previous two matches.

With fewer than 3,000 rattling around the 10,000-capacity arena it was painfully quiet at times and there was very little to get excited about, especially in a dire first half.

The hosts started on the front foot with the excellent Courtney Senior twice going close in the early stages.

County weathered that early storm and looked comfortable in the half-hour before the break but they didn’t seriously trouble Sam Walker in the U’s goal.

Colchester again began brightly in the second half and once they broke the deadlock on 59 minutes, thanks to a barnstorming run down the right from Senior and a clever flick from substitute Ben Stevenson, there was only going to be one outcome.

“This was an excellent win for us, against a good side,” said U’s boss John McGreal.

“Newport do what they do really well and we’ve had to combat that.

“We chose a team to go and win a game of football – to combat what they had but also to have that little bit of guile.

“The first half was pretty even but I thought that in the second half, we came into our own a little bit a bit more and it was an excellent win.”

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Flynn looked in vain for some inspiration from the bench as he brought on Paul Hayes, Shawn McCoulsky and Emmanuel Osadebe but there was no creative spark and a lack of cohesion in the final third.

The imposing figure of Luke Prosser marshalled the home defence impressively and, a penalty shout aside, there was no real prospect of an Exiles comeback.

Tom Eastman took advantage of some panicked defending in the box to poke in the second and seal all three points for the hosts, who climbed above County in the League Two table.

“It’s still tight and there’s still a large chunk of the season left,” added McGreal.

“But we’ve thrown down the gauntlet to the team and we want to have a right good go and try and get into the play-offs.”

Like County, McGreal’s men are five points off the pace in the race for a top-seven spot but it’s so tight that anyone in the top half of the table still has everything to play for.

And Flynn’s team still have a real chance of claiming a play-off place if they can make home advantage pay with nine of their final 15 matches taking place in Newport.

They've been beaten by two good teams away from home but all is not lost.

Wednesday’s trip to Wembley is one to enjoy with the pressure off and then it’s time to knuckle down and do everything possible to keep the promotion dream alive.

County: Day; Reid (Osadebe, 74) O’Brien, Demetriou, Butler; Dolan (McCoulsky, 62), Tozer, Labadie; Willmott, Amond (Hayes, 59), Nouble

Subs not used: Bittner, Pipe, Bennett, Osadebe, Sheehan

Booked: O’Brien, Hayes

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 2,874 (184 County)