“SHOCKING, terrible, lazy, weak, poor” – manager Michael Flynn was certainly not happy with his players after another away day to forget for Newport County AFC in League Two.

And some supporters were far from happy with Flynn’s team selection for the 3-0 defeat at Grimsby Town.

Mark O’Brien, Dan Butler and Padraig Amond were all rested and replacements David Pipe, Vashon Neufville and Keanu Marsh-Brown failed to grab their chance to impress on a disappointing day at Blundell Park.

Opportunist strikes either side of the break from Jordan Cook and a late Mickey Demetriou own goal condemned County to a seventh successive away defeat in the league.

It was hardly ideal preparation for tomorrow’s massive FA Cup fourth-round replay against Middlesbrough at Rodney Parade, when a lucrative home tie against Premier League champions Manchester City is the prize for the winners.

And it was a far cry from their spirited showing at the Riverside Stadium a week earlier.

Despite a promising first 15 minutes, the Exiles didn’t deserve anything as the Mariners netted an eighth win in their last 11 home games with relative ease.

It could even have been worse but for an impressive performance from goalkeeper Nick Townsend, who saved a Wes Thomas penalty in first-half stoppage time as he again deputised for number one Joe Day.

South Wales Argus:

“I think it was a really good win,” said Grimsby boss Michael Jolley.

“We weren’t happy with the start, because we didn’t get going for 15 minutes.

“We scored out of the blue almost. After that we played some really good football and I thought we were the better side.

“Sometimes players miss penalties, and that can happen in football. But I thought the reaction to that was excellent.

“It would have been human nature to have been disappointed about the penalty and go negative, but we didn’t do that.

“We spoke about being mentally strong at half-time. We tried to step on and get more goals, and that’s how it panned out.

“Of course, we had some defending to do because Newport are a threat, but we also looked a threat on the counter.”

In truth, the visitors rarely threatened to force their way back into the contest once Cook had scored his second goal on 56 minutes.

Even the introduction of Amond, Josh Sheehan and Andrew Crofts failed to spark a revival.

“We put loads of balls in the box but we didn’t get on the end of them because we were never on the front foot,” said Flynn.

“And it was the same at the other box. It’s not good enough.”

The defeat sees County drop to 14th in the table, 10 points below Exeter City in the final play-off place.

They still have a game in hand over the Grecians, but Flynn admits that his side doesn’t look like challenging the top-seven at present.

“The play-offs are the last thing [on my mind],” added the Exiles boss.

“I just want to get as many points on the board as we can.

“On Tuesday we’ll concentrate on Middlesbrough and after that we’ll see where we are.”

Things will look very different indeed if County can raise their game once again to create another cup shock tomorrow.

There will be plenty of happy faces if Pep Guardiola and his City superstars are on their way to Rodney Parade.

But Tony Pulis will not want to be humiliated on home turf and if Boro show their Championship quality to triumph it will leave Flynn and his coaching staff with a big job to pick up everyone for the battles ahead.

County: Townsend; Pipe, Poole, Demetriou, Neufville; Bakinson (Crofts, 80), Dolan; Kennedy, Labadie (Sheehan, 62), Marsh-Brown (Amond, 59); Matt

Subs not used: Day, Butler, Forbes, O’Brien

Booked: Pipe

Referee: Anthony Backhouse

Attendance: 3,712 (78 County)

Read more: Full-time match report from Saturday's defeat at Blundell Park

Read more: Flynn defends team selection after row with fan at Grimsby