(Picture: Action Images via Reuters)
Newport boss Graham Westley has defended Darren Jones after the Exiles midfielder gave away the decisive penalty in last night’s FA Cup defeat to Plymouth.
The winner’s of the second-round reply had the reward of a trip to Anfield in the third round spurring them on, and that showed in a poor game that neither side wanted to lose.
However, with a penalty shoot-out looming, Jones brought Argyle striker David Goodwillie down in the 113th minute, and Graham Carey smashed the ball home from the spot to send the League Two leaders through.
“It’s really important that he [Jones] walks away with his head held high. I thought he was excellent,” Westley said.
“He made an error, it led to a chance, they scored from that chance through the penalty but there were many players that could have won or lost the game with little errors.
“It’s important the focus doesn’t go on his head.”
The defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for Westley, his players and the club’s fans who haven’t had much to cheer about this season and were desperate for a visit to Liverpool.
Currently languishing at the foot of the Football League, four points from safety and with money tight, a trip to Merseyside would have provided a welcome financial boost and distraction from league matters.
But, Westley refused to be downbeat after the loss and told BBC Wales: “We would have loved to have gone through for the occasion and finances.
“God knows the club needs it, but to push it to one side and say right it’s the league now, we have to go and win points.
“The performance in the replay shows we’ve come a long way forward. The game at their place was played with discipline, organisation and focus and the game here was played with the same ingredients.
“We’ve shown when we’ve got that, we can be more than a match for the top team in the league. Over 180 minutes, we got two 0-0 draws.