DANNY Rose scored the only goal of the game to condemn Newport County AFC to a 1-0 defeat at Mansfield Town. Here are the talking points... 

Conditions made for a grim spectacle

With both sides low on confidence and Storm Dennis wreaking havoc, yesterday’s match always had the look of a scrappy encounter likely to be settled by a mistake.

The Rodney Parade pitch takes a lot of stick but, on this evidence, the Field Mill playing surface is not much better and it made life difficult for both teams.

The swirling wind and driving rain affected the game with passes overhit, balls sticking in the mud and tackles being mistimed and it added to the miserable experience for County and the 111 travelling fans.

Injuries taking their toll

Matty Dolan’s return to fitness meant there were only eight players missing on Saturday and it allowed Michael Flynn to name five out of a possible seven substitutes, including teenagers Lewis Collins and Joe Woodiwiss.

With so many unavailable, Flynn had little option to pick some players out of position and it meant he didn’t have many options to change things with substitutions.

Despite the lack of any recognised full-backs, Otis Khan’s absence was most keenly felt. He was ineligible against his parent club and striker Tristan Abrahams looked lost on the left wing in his place. Flynn may have been better off giving Collins (below) a go from the start.

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Play-off hopes fading fast

Having earned 26 points from the first 39 on offer this season, County have only picked up 14 points from the 54 available since beating Scunthorpe United at Rodney Parade on October 19.

Flynn’s men have scored just 27 times in 31 league games and are now without a goal in nearly seven hours of football in League Two.

They failed to register a shot on target at Mansfield and are now 12 points below seventh-placed Colchester United, albeit with three games in hand.

When asked about the play-offs after the match, the Exiles boss admitted that a repeat of last season’s late surge into the top seven looks unlikely and it’s hard to argue with that assessment on current form.

Salford semi is now even bigger

Flynn’s concession that a top-seven finish will be “difficult” surely makes Wednesday’s Leasing.com Trophy semi-final against Salford City even more important than it was.

County know that victory will seal a return to Wembley, a nice payday and the chance to win some silverware.

A win would give the players and fans something to get excited about, while a defeat risks the remainder of the season meandering to a dull conclusion with little at stake.

Read more: Newport County boss admits play-offs may be beyond his side after defeat at Mansfield Town