AS HE wound back his clocks this morning, Newport County AFC manager Michael Flynn must have wished he could go back 24 hours rather than one.

Saturday is not a day that any Exiles fans will want to relive but Flynn would welcome the chance to put right some of the injustices at Meadow Lane.

It was a game defined by one decision from referee Craig Hicks that shocked many at the time and still looks hard to explain after watching the TV replays.

With the home fans already on his back, the referee pulled out a red card after what looked like an innocuous challenge for a high ball between Dan Butler and Matt Tootle.

The Notts County player ended up on the floor holding his face and, much to his evident bemusement, Butler was instantly dismissed for ‘using excessive force’ in the challenge.

It’s a decision that the Exiles will no doubt appeal in the hope of curtailing any suspension but, even if they are successful, that won’t be much compensation.

Flynn admitted that he hadn’t even tried to speak to the referee after the match.

“There’s no point,” he said. “We’ll do our report after the game and all our points will be in there.

“He didn’t want to talk during the game. I don’t think he moved out of the centre of the pitch!

“We go to all these meetings with officials and it’s a waste of time because when they get something wrong they don’t want to talk to you.

“As soon as I heard that there was a late change of referee I didn’t like it because it never works for us,” added Flynn, who also felt the Magpies’ third goal did not cross the line.

“I thought they should have had a penalty in the first half but I’ve watched it again and it wasn’t a penalty so, fair play, he got something right.”

South Wales Argus:

The red card ruined what had up to that point been shaping up to be a good contest between two top-six teams determined to attack each other.

But, just two minutes after going a man down, Flynn’s men found themselves a goal down after a poor header from Ben Tozer allowed Shola Ameobi and Jon Stead to tee up Jorge Grant for a cool finish into the bottom corner.

As Flynn admitted, it was a sloppy goal to concede but his side were still reeling from the shock of the red card at that point.

Hicks did then partially redeem himself by ignoring a theatrical fall from Notts skipper Richard Duffy in the Exiles penalty area.

But the game was wrapped up inside the first 10 minutes of the second half as more sub-standard defending allowed Ameobi to crash home a second before Ben White was caught out by Grant for the third on 55 minutes.

It could have been far worse for the visitors as the excellent Grant hit the bar with a free-kick and the equally good Joe Day saved his side further humiliation on several occasions.

The hosts, who returned to the top of the table with this win, were undoubtedly worthy winners but the Exiles will be left with a nagging feeling that things might have been different but for the red card.

The numerical disadvantage makes it hard to come to any clear conclusions but the bare facts are that they have taken just one point from the past three games to slip to eighth.

The 341 fans who made the trip to Nottingham will hope that this 3-0 reverse is just as much of a false dawn as the 3-0 win at Meadow Lane last November, which was followed by eight successive defeats.

To be two points off the top-seven with more than a third of the season gone is still a major achievement and Flynn will hope that a change of focus for the FA Cup next week also brings a change of luck for his side.

County: Day; White, Bennett, Demetriou; Willmott, Dolan, Tozer, Butler; Rigg (Barnum-Bobb, 46); Nouble (Reynolds, 74), Amond (McCoulsky, 46)

Subs not used: Bittner, Owen-Evans, Quigley, Jackson

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 6,019 (341 County)