NEWPORT County AFC boss Michael Flynn was furious at being denied a penalty in the loss to Cambridge United that hit their promotion hopes, stating playmaker Wes Hoolahan “might as well have put gloves on” after handling in the box.

The Exiles dropped to seventh in League Two after a 1-0 defeat to the U's, who went back to the top as they close in on promotion.

The game was settled when a Declan Drysdale header after 78 minutes squirmed past goalkeeper Nick Townsend.

However, Flynn was fuming that the Exiles didn't get the chance to take the lead from the spot in the first half when former Ireland midfielder Hoolahan handled a cross from Aaron Lewis.

Cambridge counterpart Mark Bonner felt it was outside the box but referee Thomas Bramall didn’t even give a free-kick and instead pointed for a corner.

South Wales Argus: CAUTION: Michael Flynn is shown a yellow cardCAUTION: Michael Flynn is shown a yellow card

“The one in the first half, he might as well have put gloves on,” said Flynn, who was shown a yellow card for debating a second penalty shout after the break. “It was an awful decision by the officials.

“There was a second one that he did get right – it hit the player in the face even though it didn’t look like it at the time – but the referee needs help.

“There is a fourth official, a linesman and the referee all close and trust me, it was a very good save.”

County produced one of their best performances for weeks but were once again left to rue decision-making in the final third.

South Wales Argus:

“It's the story of the second half of the season. we are not taking the chances that we create and when teams sit in we struggle to break them down,” admitted Flynn, whose side have fired blanks in three of their last six games.

“We've got some good attacking players but the decision-making at times costs us. We've got five games to go and we've got to find a way to score some goals.

“We got in some really good areas but in the last 10 or 15 minutes we had five in the box and kept hitting the front man.

“Unless we can improve our decision-making over the next five games it will be very difficult to score goals, and that’s the main part of the game.

“We’ve got some good players but they are just coming up short with individual errors and decision-making.”

Defeat leaves seventh-placed County aiming to hold onto a play-off place rather than put the heat on the top three.

They face two promotion rivals next week when they entertain Crawley, who are three points back, on Tuesday before travelling to Exeter, who are a point back.