NEWPORT County AFC manager Graham Coughlan criticised his side for a ‘lack of hunger and desire’ in their 1-0 defeat at Barrow.

The Exiles suffered a loss in windy conditions at Holker Street after Cole Stockton scored the only goal of the game in the 20th minute.

County played into a strong wind in the first half and were pinned back but then failed to use the conditions to turn the tables after the break.

They had just one serious chance – when Seb Palmer-Holden was denied by a solid stop – and fired a blank.

Defeat leaves them four points off seventh-placed Crawley, who also have a game in hand, and Coughlan delivered a blunt assessment after a performance that left him feeling “awful”.

South Wales Argus: Graham Coughlan thanks the County travelling contingentGraham Coughlan thanks the County travelling contingent (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“We got what we deserved out of the game and the most disappointing part was the lack of hunger and desire to go and win a game,” said the manager.

“When you want to get into the top ten you have got to show a lot more hunger and desire, you need to win battles and your individual duels.

"We didn’t win enough first contacts and second balls, too many players had an off day.

“The conditions were awful for both teams – it was a really difficult day, I get that – but that shouldn’t have anything to do with desire, work rate, attitude and commitment. This group has that in abundance but we didn’t display that today.”

County have enjoyed a strong campaign to be contenders for the top seven when many tipped them for a relegation battle.

They have some credit in the bank with the manager because of that, which led to the Irishman holding back despite his frustration.

“They have been magnificent all season so I need to be careful and contain my emotions and anger,” said Coughlan.

“That was an opportunity to go and build, to do something and put another three points on the board but the way we went about it… I didn’t like the look of one or two players.

“I don’t like it when we haven’t got aggression and we haven’t got intensity, a purpose and a desire to work.

“I hope that nobody in there is resting on their laurels or putting their flip-flops on, or using the injury room as an excuse.

“I don’t want any excuses. There were one or two performances that I didn’t like.”

County now face a key Easter double-header with a trip to relegation-threatened Colchester on Good Friday followed by a Bank Holiday Monday home clash with Crawley, who are in a strong position for the play-offs.

Goalkeeper Nick Townsend went off at half-time in Cumbria with a groin injury while defender Matt Baker will be back for the trip to Essex after missing out because of international duty with Wales Under-21s.