Whilst with a visibly quicker tempo and more attacking intent than in their previous two games [a goalless draw against Oxford United and a 2-0 defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge], the Greens found it difficult to break down a compact and professional Exiles side in the opening 45 minutes.
“In the first half I thought we were okay but we just gave the ball away,” said John. “Simple possession, simple passes and we’re giving the ball away cheaply.
“If you do that you will put yourselves under pressure. They were getting throw-ins in deep areas and we were conceding corners, so we were just putting ourselves under pressure.
“We were a bit edgy. I thought we could have kept possession [better] and it was just about our final pass. I said that to the lads.”
The team talk from Sheridan had a noticeable effect on his Pilgrims after the break, getting in behind Newport and creating plenty of chances – most notably Bobby Reid’s strike that forced a save from Joe Day, just before whipping in a cross that just evaded a finishing touch from Dom Blizzard.
It was a part of a display that would have reaped rewards on other occasions, and the boss is looking to see that sort of positive performance for the entirety of their next game against Cheltenham Town.
“[Bobby’s] made the opportunity himself. It’s a good opportunity,” said John. “Then there’s a ball he’s played across the box near the end that Dom Blizzard [nearly reaches].
“We were sloppy on one or two occasions but I’m not going to fault their effort: they had a go. I like players who are brave, and we were brave in the second half. You have got to be brave, create more opportunities and try and get them on the back foot. I thought we did that a lot better in the second half and a lot better than what we did the other night
“We left ourselves a bit vulnerable and they’ve had one or two opportunities, but we’re trying to win the game. I think our second half performance was really good. I am chuffed that the lads had a go.
“We are playing against a team who are in and around us, and they haven’t gained anything on us. It’s a massive game next week now and we have got to go and win it, but I can’t keep saying it. Luckily the other results were not too bad, but I told the players I thought it was a good performance even before I saw the other results.
“The second half performance was very good for me, and I don’t care what anyone tells me or what anyone thinks. That’s how I feel and I have told the players that. Hopefully they will take it into the game next week.
“I am going to stick up for them; I thought they were brilliant in the second half and that’s what I’m going to stick with, but we need to do it for 80 or 90 minutes against Cheltenham now.”