NEWPORT County AFC “chucked three points away” with their second-half collapse at Tranmere, according to angry boss Graham Coughlan.

The Exiles led 1-0 at the break at Prenton Park thanks to Will Evans’ 14th goal of the season in the 22nd minute.

The top scorer went off with an ankle injury at the break and County failed to pick up where they left off in windy conditions.

Tranmere levelled through Kieron Morris after 56 minutes, his shot deflecting in off James Clarke, and then turned one point into three when Connor Jennings prodded in an 88th-minute winner from close range.

"I think we have chucked three points away,” said Coughlan. “After our first-half performance, we had a really good opportunity to take three points.

"We basically chucked three points away with our naivety, lack of leadership, by sinking deep, allowing people to shoot.

"For their second goal they had two bites of the cherry. In both goals we are stood in the six-yard box - you can't defend like that.

"Conditions were tough but they were tough for both teams. The fact of the matter is that we looked after the ball in the first half, we played, passed and created.

“The second half we just didn't come out and lost the ability to find a yellow jersey. That wasn't up to scratch, irrespective of conditions.”

South Wales Argus: DESPAIR: Scot Bennett after County's 2-1 loss at TranmereDESPAIR: Scot Bennett after County's 2-1 loss at Tranmere (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

County were good value for their lead at the break but failed to hit those heights in the second half when pinned in their own territory.

It was a similar story against Barnet in the FA Cup when the Bees' pressure led to a late equaliser.

“It was a game of two halves. We were very good in the first one when we passed the ball to each other but I don’t know what happened to us in the second,” said Coughlan.

“We lost our composure, our ability to pass and looked a totally different team.

"Having said that, with the couple of opportunities we had, we've got to go and take them. Even in the first half we should have been coming in with two goals.

"I don't know what it is, whether it's a mentality thing, but we seem to go 1-0 up in games and all of a sudden think there is safety by sitting back and defending deep. That has never been a recipe for success."

County hope that Evans’ ankle injury isn’t too serious while centre-back James Clarke was forced off in the closing stages clutching the small of his back.

The Exiles travel to Barnet for a second-round replay on Tuesday.