FORMER Newport County AFC midfielder Ben Tozer admits the Exiles’ FA Cup heroics against Tottenham Hotspur “ruined” their chances of challenging for promotion last season.

Tozer and his County teammates were within eight minutes of beating Spurs in January’s fourth-round tie at a packed Rodney Parade before Harry Kane cancelled out Padraig Amond’s opener.

Michael Flynn’s men then held the Premier League giants to a respectable 2-0 defeat in the Wembley replay but the high-profile matches, both live on BT Sport, took a big toll on the players.

County picked up only one victory in their next 11 matches in League Two and slipped from fifth in the table on January 19 to a lowly 13th by April 7.

They eventually finished 11th in the table – 11 points below the play-off places and 13 points above Cheltenham Town, who Tozer opted to join this summer after turning down a new deal to stay at Rodney Parade.

Asked about the Tottenham tie by Gloucestershire Live, Tozer said: “It was brilliant and the buzz around the whole city was massive.

“When the game was going on, we were well in it, 1-0 up and actually people were coming in after the game buzzing about getting a draw and playing at Wembley, but I was very disappointed as we should have won it and it was a sloppy goal we conceded.

“Selfishly maybe, I didn’t want to go and play them at Wembley because it was always going to be tougher.

“It could have been demoralising and ruined our season and as it happened, it did.

“I’d played at Wembley before, so maybe that made me look at it differently, but don’t get me wrong it was a great experience.

“They put out a respectful side against us, in both matches. It’s something I’ll never forget and it’s nice to have the shirt and the match ball and things like that. It’s nice to keep at home.”

It was the hangover from both games against Spurs that Tozer feels cost County a real shot at promotion last season.

“We used the momentum from the season before and we had a group of men last year,” he added.

“The start helped so much as it creates a buzz and you can look up, rather than down.

“We were in a great position until the FA Cup game and the first game took so much out of us.

“I’d say it took us about four days to recover – mentally, physically and emotionally, we were gone.

“To then go to Wembley, we needed a break really, which didn’t happen and we hit a downward spiral from there.

“We had upwards momentum, but it fizzled out after the cup games, unfortunately. It was a successful season in some ways, but frustrating in others.”

Tozer explained his desire to cut his commute from Northamptonshire was the key factor behind his decision to move on after two years with the Exiles.

“I felt it was time to move away from Newport,” he said. “I had a two-and-a-half-hour commute, which didn’t help.

“Cheltenham as a whole as a package was appealing. You just have to look at the training ground for example and the town is fantastic. All these little things add up, so it was a no-brainer for me.

“I had an offer from Newport, but I spoke to the gaffer there and told him I’d decided to go elsewhere and he was respectful of that."