GRAHAM Coughlan admits his injury-hit Newport County AFC squad ‘aren’t strong enough or good enough’ after their 2-1 defeat to League Two strugglers Colchester United.

The Exiles lost at the death in Essex after U’s defender Jay Mingi slammed in a deserved winner for the relegation-threatened hosts.

County led 1-0 against the run of play at half-time thanks to Offrande Zanzala’s cool 42nd-minute lob after a defensive mix-up.

Nick Townsend pulled off some terrific saves to have Coughlan’s side hoping of a backs-to-the-wall triumph.

However, Colchester levelled in the 75th minute when Ellis Iandolo scored from a corner and then Mingi drove forward to fire in after two of seven added minutes.

County remain two points off Coughlan’s target of 57 to match last season’s tally while their chances of sneaking into the play-offs have lengthened.

They are five points back on seventh-placed Gillingham while Crawley, who head to Rodney Parade on Monday, are four ahead with a game in hand.

With a list of absentees featuring Ryan Delaney, James Clarke, Declan Drysdale, Adam Lewis, Shane McLoughlin and Omar Bogle, Coughlan admits that his side are flagging after a long campaign.

“The performance wasn't great and nor was the result. Their bench won them the game and we just don't have that,” said Coughlan.

“At this moment in time we are missing too many players to be competitive. We aren't strong enough and we aren't good enough.

“We are coming up short in games and the season is catching up with us. We've asked an awful lot of this group of lads and for some of them this was their 51st games of the season, that's a big, big ask.

“You can see that physically and mentally we look a team that has played 50-odd games and I just don't have the strength in depth to impact games like Colchester did.

South Wales Argus: CHASE: Offrande Zanzala grafting for Newport County at ColchesterCHASE: Offrande Zanzala grafting for Newport County at Colchester (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“The lads are giving their all and have done from game one this season but we can't stay competitive when missing so many big players.

“We are missing six or seven starters that are in the physio's room, so we don't have the numbers to impact games.

“We are all hurting and I've just got to try and keep these lads going, keep them motivated and get something out of our season.”

County managed just three attempts on goal with Zanzala scoring, Aaron Wildig heading wide and Seb Palmer-Houlden denied by a fine save at 1-1.

Colchester had the better of possession and territory on a testing surface in Essex.

“We didn't hold the ball up, we didn't look after it well enough and were sloppy. We were very similar at Barrow,” admitted Coughlan.

“We didn't ask enough questions, create enough opportunities or service the box.”

Colchester boss Danny Cowley was relieved to get a first home win since taking the reins in January to boost their bid to beat the drop.

He said: “It was probably the best way for us to win a game when we haven’t won for so long.

“To win it that late on, it didn’t give us that much time to think – we don’t make it easy for ourselves, do we!

“It was a really good win for us. We had total dominance of the game and total control.

“In the first half, we were the only team taking the game and they obviously sat very deep and made it very difficult for us.

“We had to have good emotional control and we did that but then conceded a goal from nowhere.

“It’s a bad habit that we have and we made life difficult for ourselves but credit to the players.

“To come in at half-time behind to a team that pretty much hadn’t had a shot on target is tough but I was pleased with the second-half performance.”