PRESS | Flynn ready for tough test at Exeter City

Exiles manager Mike Flynn says he is ready for whatever challenge will await him when he takes his side to face Exeter City on Saturday.

Both sides head into the game unbeaten, two of only four teams in the division currently without defeat, with Exeter out on their own at the top-of-the-table with 10 points. 

And Flynn is prepared for another tough test.

“I’m always quietly confident with the players I have here,” he said.

“They’ve been smashing, they’ve come back in really good condition and they are carrying that on at the moment.

“We’ve got a tough game Saturday, one which I’m really looking forward to. Again, it’ll give us another yardstick to how much we’ve improved this season.”

He added “I’m expecting a very good team at Exeter.

“They lost in the final of the play-offs last season, got a very good manager, good players and will probably have strengthened as-well before the end of the window so it’s going to be a tough ask.

“It’ll be a challenge for the team, but one in which we’ll go there in confidence and hopefully the boys will do the business and we’ll come away top of the league.”

The trip to St James Park will be the first time returning to the stadium since Tom Owen-Evans scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory back in April.

The game had to be delayed by 45 minutes with County stuck in traffic whilst attempting to get to the ground.

However, Flynn believes that in-fact helped the side, and showed the resilience embodied by the squad during the infamous ‘Great Escape.’

He commented: “It was interesting before the game, but in all honesty we didn’t look like losing that game and it was a very good performance.

“I think we were galvanised from that first win at Crewe if I’m honest, but going down to Exeter who were comfortably in the play-offs at the time and getting a result there, a clean sheet too, was a big result and obviously if we hadn’t have won that game then we’d have gone down.

“It went to show that nothing really fazes these lads, I know we’ve brought some new faces in but there’s a lot here from last year.

“The ones that have come in are of the same attitude and commitment and just get on with the job in-front of them.

“Some days they are going to be brilliant and some days they are not going to be as good but they’ll always give there all and put the pride into the Newport County shirt.”

A victory in Devon will see County jump up to top spot, as long as they maintain their superior goal difference over Stevenage and Crewe.

But Flynn reiterated his stance that positions in the table are meaningless at this early stage of the season.  

“Of course it’s too early,” he continued.

“I’ve said loads of times that nothing's won in August, September or even January for that fact.

“We’ll keep going, keep giving our all in every game we’re playing and hopefully we get a lot more wins than we do defeats and hopefully we’ll be there or there abouts at the end of the season.”

The Exeter game will be the first league game since last week’s ‘Homecoming’ victory against Chesterfield.

And Flynn wants the squad to replicate the performance of that 4-1 victory.

He said: “The longer we go under the radar, the better because it was a big result against a Chesterfield team that have just come down from League 1.

“They caused us problems at times as-well and let’s not forget that.

“But the boys were brilliant, 1-0 down at half-time and to score four goals without conceding another one really showed they were on the ball.”

Flynn made eight changes to the starting side from that Chesterfield game for Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy game at Forest Green Rovers.

And despite the 2-0 defeat, Flynn took positives from the game.

He continued: “People were saying I wasn’t interested in winning the game but I want to win every game for this football club let’s get that straight.

“On Tuesday, I gave boys a chance who I thought deserved a chance.

“It’s one game, I’m going to lose too much sleep over it but I was expecting to go there and win the game with the team I put out regardless of whether it was Forest Green’s starting eleven or not.

“They were planning on making eight changes too but they felt they couldn’t after the result on the weekend.”

He continued: “I can only concentrate on Newport County AFC and the positive was that a few players got a lot of time under their belt.

“Ben Tozer’s first competitive start for a long time, Calaum got his first minutes, Tom Owen-Evans coming back from injury got some minutes so it was good in that respect.

“The league is more important but again that doesn’t mean I don’t want to win those Checkatrade games.

“I want to keep the momentum going but I had to look at the bigger picture and that was we have a massive game on Saturday and a few players have played a lot of games.”

The game represented the first time that the Exiles had failed to score in all competitions.  

And Flynn says it was frustrating to have a first shut-out of the season.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “But I’d rather that stat come on Tuesday as opposed to this Saturday.

“We have a +4 goal average and last season we finished on -22.

“It shows we’re going in the right direction. The boys are averaging 20 shots on goal a game, all these stats are great at times but I don’t care if we create only one chance and win 1-0.

“At times I’d rather win and get the points on the board but it is nice and pleasing to see that the boys are putting in some good performances both attacking and defending.”

Although the Exiles didn’t pick up any injuries at the Forest Green game specifically, a few players will be missing for the trip to Exeter following injuries at the week-end and in training.

Flynn said: “It’s not great if I’m honest.

“I thought a few would have been a lot better this morning so we’ll have to wait until the last minute on them.

“Not everybody is unavailable, there are some coming back for Saturday but some which I thought would be okay are not.

“I’d rather not say who’s out because I don’t want to give Exeter City a heads-up about them. “

However, one injury boost will be the return of Mark O’Brien.

The defender sat out Tuesday’s game with a hamstring problem picked up at the weekend, but is now back for selection.

“Mark is fine,” Flynn added.

“It’s a big boost for us. He came off Saturday because his hamstring was really stiff and I wasn’t going to risk him.

“I didn’t want to lose him for six weeks because he’s a big player for us so common sense was needed on that one.” 

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