Bolton manager Ian Evatt bemoaned his side’s failure to convert their chances as their 14-game unbeaten run ended with a 1-0 defeat at Newport.
Evatt’s side are the form team in Sky Bet League Two, but they paid the price for poor finishing at Rodney Parade as Nicky Maynard’s goal in the 63rd minute won it for the hosts.
Bolton will be kicking themselves because this was a game they could and should have won.
Evatt said: “The lads deserved to win the game. For whatever reason the football gods were smiling on Newport. Frustration is the word.
“We missed three or four gilt-edged, glorious opportunities. They weren’t just chances. Somehow, we didn’t score. It should have been game over and we should have been out of sight at half-time.
“It’s poor finishing. When you miss from a yard or two it can’t be anything else. Sometimes in football you don’t get what you deserve and we didn’t get what we deserved here.
“But if we perform like that for the rest of the season we’ll be there or thereabouts.”
Bolton played some great football in the opening 45 minutes but just could not score. Captain Eoin Doyle hit the bar as his team were wasteful in front of goal.
Kieran Lee was the biggest culprit and he missed a sitter of a header just before the break.
Newport were forced into defensive reshuffles in the second half, with David Longe-King and Priestley Farquharson both injured.
Newport took the lead against the run of play. Josh Sheehan’s free-kick was deflected towards his own goal by Bolton defender Ricardo Santos. Matt Gilks saved well, but Maynard gobbled up the rebound.
Bolton thought they had equalised right at the death. Alex Baptiste’s header at the back post looked like it was over the line, but Nick Townsend blocked the ball and then dived on it in a goalmouth scramble.
Newport manager Michael Flynn said: “I’ve watched it back and it was not over the line. Unless you are 100 per cent sure, you can’t gamble on that.”
On the late goalmouth scramble, Evatt said: “I couldn’t see from where I was. I don’t think anybody knows if it was over the line.”
Flynn added: “I thought we were very fortunate to go in level after the first half. They missed three golden chances and in the second half we grew into it, even with a makeshift back four.
“Bolton are a very good team and they have been on an unbelievable run. You can see why they have been unbeaten for so long. It was a great finish from Nicky.
“I don’t care how the points come and I don’t care if they say they were the better team. We are at the business end of the season now and it’s about results.”