NEWPORT County AFC boss Michael Flynn says his subs fluffed their lines in their bid to be starters against Crawley tomorrow evening (kick-off 7pm).

The Exiles need to beat their rivals for the play-offs after a costly 1-0 loss to Cambridge United on Saturday, when the League Two leaders struck late on.

County failed to get any reward for one of their best performances in recent weeks and now face a pivotal week against 12th-placed Crawley, who are just three points behind, and eighth-placed Exeter, who are a point back.

If Flynn's men fail to win tomorrow then they could be overtaken by four clubs and the manager hinted that he will keep changes to a minimum after being unimpressed by the efforts of Lewis Collins, Nicky Maynard, Luke Gambin and Dom Telford off the bench against the U's.

Newport County manager Michael Flynn at the end of the match

Newport County manager Michael Flynn at the end of the match

"We go against Tuesday and need to win. I could possibly make changes, but then have a look at the changes I made against Cambridge and it made us weaker," said Flynn, who gave veteran midfielder Kevin Ellison a first start since December 8.

"The subs were poor when they came on. I am the first to give them credit when they come on and change the game, but I expected more from them."

County's medical team will determine whether Matty Dolan will be fit to return from a concussion to face the Reds.

His absence against Cambridge prompted a reshuffle with the Exiles swapping to a flat back four with Liam Shephard playing right centre-back and Scot Bennett moved forward to his preferred midfield role, where he man-marked creative former Ireland midfielder Wes Hoolahan.

"Scot was the best player on the park, he was exceptional. He was everywhere and was full of energy," said Flynn.

"We had a little bit of a gamble with Liam and he did really well in that position. We played well and it's a tough one to take, but we have to dust ourselves down."

Crawley head to Rodney Parade on the back of superb wins against Bradford City and Cheltenham.

County, meanwhile, have won just one of their last seven and Flynn knows it is now a bid for the play-offs rather than automatic promotion.

"If we had beaten Cambridge you never know, we might have chased them down. It wasn't to be and they are out of our reach now," he said.

"It would be a very, very tough ask to catch them. They'd have to lose every game and we'd have to win them all.

"We need to finish strongly and hopefully that will keep us in the play-offs. We are one win in seven and that's not a good stat, the boys are working so hard but hopefully we will get the rub of the green before the end of the season.

"We've got three weeks left, and let's hope a little bit longer at the end of that because that means we are in the play-offs."