AFTER deservedly picking up the manager of the month award for September, October proved to be a much more testing time for Newport County AFC boss Michael Flynn and his players.

County earned just one victory in six matches last month, thanks to Antoine Semenyo’s 98th-minute winner against Stevenage.

The 1-1 draws at promotion-hopefuls Forest Green Rovers and Bury were decent results but being held at home by struggling Macclesfield Town and Morecambe and thumped 4-1 at Crawley Town were obviously big disappointments.

And November began in frustrating fashion with a 3-2 defeat at Carlisle United on Saturday.

County thought they had earned a deserved draw when Dan Butler completed the comeback from 2-0 down with an 87th-minute equaliser.

But Butler’s opposite number Danny Grainger had other ideas as his 93rd-minute effort found the top corner of Joe Day’s net via the knee of David Pipe.

With two cup clashes in the next eight days followed by tough tests against in-form Colchester United and a resurgent Northampton Town and a local derby of sorts at Cheltenham Town still to come, Flynn predicted last week that November would be a difficult month.

But, while he was delighted with some of the football his team played at Brunton Park, his angry reaction to the goals conceded was telling.

Carlisle had not scored at home in League Two since August but a makeshift County defence – missing the suspended Fraser Franks and the injured Mark O’Brien and Scot Bennett – made it far too easy for John Sheridan’s men to get that monkey off their backs.

The hosts led 2-0 after 12 minutes and it could have been 4-0 before the Exiles sprung into life and made it a great end-to-end contest.

“One or two switched off at crucial moments and it cost us the game,” said Flynn.

“People switched off and didn’t do their jobs.

“It’s criminal. It’s costing us and I’ve told them that if it keeps happening, they’ll be out of the door in January.

“If they continue to make mistakes, they’ll go out on loan or I’ll just get new faces in. And that is not a threat, it’s a promise.

“We’ve got a fantastic opportunity to do something this season and if there’s one or two, or three or four costing us then I’ll get rid of them.”

And in praising the willingness of Jamille Matt and Tyreeq Bakinson to play despite not being fully fit, Flynn also implied that other members of the squad had not shown the same level of commitment.

“I didn’t want to bring Jamille on because he was still a little bit stiff,” said the Exiles boss.

“He wasn’t 100 per cent but he put his body on the line for the football club.

“And we had Tyreeq playing with a strapped knee and he was superb. They’re the kind of players I want here.”

They are strong words from a manager who is frustrated by the way his talented squad seem to be shooting themselves in the foot week after week.

South Wales Argus:

Day has been criticised by some fans for his punched clearance that allowed Grainger the opportunity to steal all three points on Saturday.

But those critics were presumably not among the 136 supporters who made the long trek north and saw the goalkeeper make several superb stops to keep his side in the game in the first half.

Day was as crestfallen as anyone on Saturday when he told iFollow Exiles: “Some of the football we have been playing this season is brilliant and that’s why we’ve got to the heights we’ve got to in the league.

“At the moment, there’s unfortunately a few sloppy things creeping in as well. But in general some of the stuff we’re playing as a squad is the best for a long time.

“It’s just about getting the full-strength squad back. Some players are doing a great job in covering but once we’re back to it, I think we’ll be back to our best as well.”

Flynn and his players have been reluctant to use the mounting injury problems as an excuse in recent weeks but it is a valid point from the Exiles number one.

Franks is back from suspension for this weekend’s FA Cup tie at Metropolitan Police FC but County could still be without O’Brien, Bennett, Cameron Pring, Andrew Crofts and Joss Labadie.

A small squad relies on luck with injuries and once that lot are back in contention County will be much better equipped to keep pace with the other promotion hopefuls.

Until then it’s about digging in and staying in touch with the leading lights in League Two.