Newport boss Michael Flynn said that a Wembley trip for the League Two final was a just reward for professionalism shown by his players.
Goals from substitutes Kevin Ellison, Joss Labadie and Nicky Maynard might not have been enough to win a thrilling second leg but they were sufficient to take the Exiles through to the final against Morecambe.
Flynn said: “I am very proud. It has been a very tough year both on and off the pitch. The circumstances we’re living in, people have lost lives and we’ve not been able to do the things that we’re used to doing.
“I am so proud of these players – we haven’t had a game called off due to Covid so that shows me how professional they have been. This is their reward now – a trip to Wembley and hopefully we can get the win against a good and dangerous Morecambe team.”
Forest Green trailed 2-0 from the first leg but wiped out that deficit within eight minutes.
Flynn added: “We got off to the worst possible start. We knew what to expect so the manner of the goals we’re not happy with – all four were from crosses and that’s very unlike us.
“But the character of the players showed. You could almost see one or two were about to drop their heads but the way we finished the game was good – we looked fitter, we looked strong and that’s a credit to the players and the way they look after themselves.
“I would rather lose trying than being too conservative and thankfully it paid off – I think all the goals came from the subs.
“If we didn’t go through I had my comments ready – same old story in that we didn’t take our chances and kill teams off. Thankfully we’ve managed to score enough to get to the final and let’s hope that we are saving our goals for there.”
Ebou Adams and Aaron Collins scored Forest Green’s early goals, with Nicky Cadden and Jamille Matt firing the Gloucestershire side to a 4-3 victory on the night – but Maynard’s goal late in extra time clinched the result for Newport.
Rovers caretaker boss Jimmy Ball said: “I’m proud and heartbroken all at the same time. It was an amazing performance from a wonderful group of men who are over in that dressing room absolutely heartbroken.
“When you ask men to go to the well and bare their soles and give everything and they do that then it is an incredible feeling. It’s a case of mixed emotions.
“In their first game back, I hope the fans saw a team play with bravery and risks and leave it all out there. We didn’t achieve our goal which is disappointing but it gives us a bit of hope.
“After the third goal we didn’t take care of the ball well enough. We then ran out of legs a little bit as well and the players coming back from injury were beginning to feel it.
“We’ve been caught with the sucker punch but you can’t ask any more of the boys, they’ve given everything.”
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