NEWPORT County AFC manager Graham Coughlan warned his players that they will quickly lose their credit in the bank if they repeat their horror show at Milton Keynes.

The Exiles were thrashed 3-0 in League Two by the fifth-placed Dons, who scored all their goals inside the first half hour in Buckinghamshire.

MK struck through Dan Kemp, Jack Payne and Alex Gilbey in a one-sided encounter and it could have been even worse had the hosts been more cutthroat, while goalkeeper Nick Townsend also pulled off some terrific saves.

County have put themselves into the play-off fight thanks to their impressive form since the turn of the year and Coughlan has demanded a response after standards slipped.

“We didn’t compete, they were better with the ball, we were sloppy and just didn’t come out of the traps,” he said.

“It was chalk and cheese from the Walsall game two weeks ago when we got off to a flyer, today we gave ourselves a mountain to climb.

“Some of the performances just weren’t good enough. They may have a little bit of credit with me, the fans and the club but I can’t have too much more of that. It was really poor.

“When we got the ball we gave it straight back, we were wasteful and good teams will hurt you.

“We didn’t have any forward penetration with our passes – we kept going back to the three centre-halves and then the goalie.

“We gained no territory or decent possession, we didn’t work their goalie, so all in all it was a really bad day at the office.”

South Wales Argus: Scot Bennett on the ball for County at MK DonsScot Bennett on the ball for County at MK Dons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

County are 16th in the table, five points behind seventh-placed Gillingham with a game in hand, after the Dons became only the second team to beat them in the league since Christmas.

“I understand [that it was a rare bad performance], but it doesn’t make me feel any better. It was very painful watching the game and it’s no consolation that we have been good and were bad today,” said Coughlan.

“You want consistency and regular performances, while the minimum that we ask for is that we outwork and outrun the opposition.

“Yes, they might be better with the ball than us but we can’t let them outrun and out-fight us. That’s a no-no.”

County return to action at Harrogate, who suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Walsall, on Tuesday “There will be no sulking, whingeing or moaning,” said Coughlan. “We will accept the defeat manfully and gracefully. The better team won and we will regroup.

“We will look at Harrogate and delve into this game, although I don’t even think I’ll watch the video because that was painful.

“One thing we know about this group is that they always react and bounce back. We are lucky that we have a game on Tuesday.”

Right-back Shane McLoughlin limped off in the early stages after an injury to his lower left leg and looks certain to at least miss Harrogate while midfielder Harry Charsley remains a major doubt after a hip injury suffered against Gillingham.