AFTER the pain comes the pride for Newport County AFC, and then the determination to come back stronger next season.

Saturday’s defeat at the death at Wembley was tough to take for everyone with amber in the blood.

County came agonisingly close to producing the fairy tale ending to a fantastic season.

If Tranmere Rovers goalkeeper Scott Davies hadn’t pulled off a miraculous save to deny Jamille Matt, it might have been different.

If referee Ross Joyce had given a penalty when Matt was fouled in the box by the otherwise excellent Manny Monthe five minutes from the end of normal time, it surely would have been the Exiles celebrating promotion.

South Wales Argus:

If Mark O’Brien hadn’t wrestled James Norwood to the floor to earn his second yellow in the 89th minute, Flynn’s men may have forced a winner in extra-time.

If Tyreeq Bakinson hadn’t been beaten so easily and Regan Poole hadn’t momentarily switched off at the far post and allowed Connor Jennings to head home in the 119th minute, they may have battled their way to another penalty shootout.

South Wales Argus:

Tranmere boss Mickey Mellon knows all about the despair of losing at Wembley.

His Rovers side were beaten by Forest Green Rovers in the 2017 National League play-off final and they have responded magnificently to earn back-to-back promotions in 2018 and 2019.

And Mellon is convinced that the Exiles have the character to bounce back from this body blow.

“It’s tough, I’ve sat here and lost and it’s tough to lose here,” said the genial Scot. “I know what it’s like.

“It’s tough for me to comment [on County]. Who am I to give them advice?

“We suffered a couple of years ago when we got beaten here and we had to show character to come back.

“But, listen, that’s not a team that’s lacking in character or fight.

“That’s a team that’s going to put a real shift in for the football club and for the manager, who’s done fantastic to get here.

“The fine margins just went our way and we’re delighted to have got over the line, but we were made to work very hard for it.”

South Wales Argus:

After such an impressive campaign, in the league and cups, it’s inevitable that there will be interest from other clubs in Flynn and many of his players this summer.

And, with so many key men out of contract, fans are understandably fearful that this superb team could be broken up before the start of next season.

This may have been the one and only chance for this group of players to make it to League One together.

But football clubs are bigger than individuals and County have been through much tougher times than this.

And, while he sounded a note of caution about next season, Flynn will give everything he can to ensure that his hometown club goes one better this time next year.

“It’s been an unbelievable season but it [promotion] has been cruelly taken away from us at the end,” said the manager.

“We want to make consistent and constant improvements on and off the pitch and we’ve made huge strides this season.

“I just hope that people don’t get carried away now and expect the same every year because it’s going to be tough.

“We’re going to be a marked team; everyone is going to want to beat us. And I think the division is going to be tougher again next season.

“But it is what it is. Congratulations to Tranmere, and we go again.”

County: Day; Poole, O’Brien, Demetriou; Willmott (Marsh-Brown, 106), Bennett, Sheehan (Bakinson, 91) Butler; Labadie (Dolan, 72); Amond, Matt (Azeez, 103)

Subs not used: Pipe, Crofts, McKirdy

Booked: Matt, O’Brien, Poole

Sent off: O’Brien

Referee: Ross Joyce

Attendance: 25,217