MANAGER Michael Flynn says Newport County AFC are throwing away an unbelievable opportunity for promotion from League Two after slamming "criminal" defending in a costly defeat to Barrow.

The seventh-placed Exiles remain in the play-off spots despite a 2-1 loss in Cumbria but failed to close in on the top three and stretch away from the chasing pack.

Rivals Exeter and Salford lost but County failed to hold onto the 1-0 lead that Scot Bennett gave them at the break to suffer a third defeat on the bounce.

Scott Quigley exploited a Mickey Demetriou error to level and the centre-back and captain Joss Labadie parted at a wall to allow a free-kick by Jamie Devitt, who was on loan at Rodney Parade in the first half of the season, to sneak in after 83 minutes.

“We were our own worst enemy,” said Flynn. “The two goals that we conceded were farcical, the second one is not something that I want to be associated with.

“Turning your back in a wall is criminal. They are two experienced players in Joss Labadie and Mickey Demetriou.

“There are no excuses for that, you can be the best coach or manager in the world but if your players do that in such an important part of the season then they have to take some responsibility.”

South Wales Argus:

County don’t have time to lick their wounds with a home fixture against third-placed Bolton on Monday followed by a trip to Mansfield on Friday.

The Exiles will be without Demetriou against the Wanderers after he was sent off for a second caution at the death.

Defenders Priestley Farquharson and Ryan Haynes could return from injury while midfielder Luke Gambin will be back in contention after missing the trip to Cumbria due to travel exertions on international duty with Malta.

"It's a missed opportunity to close the gap on the top three because a few results went for us," said Flynn.

"But if we don't take care of our business then it doesn't matter what anybody else does.

"We need to realise the fantastic situation that we have got ourselves in.

"We won't do anything the easy way, it's so frustrating and we need to snap out of this and stop giving teams three points.

"We are throwing away an unbelievable opportunity."

County have six of their nine remaining games at home but need to go on a winning streak if they are to keep in touch with the pace-setters.

"I will never give up [on automatic promotion] until it is mathematically impossible, and now we have a big, big game against a high-flying Bolton team," said Flynn.

“They are full of confidence and we are a little bit down at the minute. It’s going to be a tough game and we need to be at our best to get the three points.”