NEWPORT County AFC manager Michael Flynn admitted that the League Two play-offs now look beyond his side this season after a 1-0 defeat in stormy conditions at Mansfield Town.

County, who were beaten in the play-off final at Wembley last season, still have three games in hand over many teams above them in the table.

But they are now down to 16th after a third defeat in four league games, 12 points off the top seven.

Flynn’s men have failed to hit the net in almost seven hours of league action and have now scored just 27 goals in 31 matches.

And, speaking after the final whistle at Field Mill, the Exiles boss said: “I’ve just said to the players, ‘if we put our hands on our hearts, do you think the amount of goals we’ve scored is going to get us into the play-offs?’ The honest answer is no.

“Unless there is a massive turnaround or a drastic change and we go and win every game 1-0 from now on, then it’s going to be difficult.

“We’ll never give up on it, we’ll always keep going, but it is looking tougher and tougher.”

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County started brightly but they failed to register a shot on target and Mansfield’s winning goal followed a mistake from Mickey Demetriou that allowed the hosts to break upfield and finish through Danny Rose in the 29th minute.

“The conditions were tough, but it was the same for both teams,” said Flynn.

“I think we played some really good football in the first half and we’ve lost to an error. We gave them a goal and it killed us.

“It’s frustrating but they’ve tried hard and I think the better team lost,” he added.

“That group of players have worked their socks off for us with all the injuries.

“And we brought Lewis Collins on and I thought he looked lively in spells on a difficult pitch.

“So there are a lot of positives, but I’d rather we’d got the win.”

Looking ahead to Wednesday’s Leasing.com Trophy semi-final against Salford City at Rodney Parade, the manager said: “There’s not much you can do over the next few days.

“The boys have got to just keep believing and keep backing themselves to take the next opportunity.”

Read more: Mansfield Town 1 Newport County 0 - match report from Field Mill