Mike Flynn heaped praise on his Newport County AFC team after seeing his side book their place in the Emirates FA Cup Third Round with a 2-0 victory over Cambridge United.
Captain Joss Labadie scored both of the goals for the Exiles at Rodney Parade, with the opener coming just 93 seconds into the game.
It came after Matty Dolan curled an inch-perfect free-kick right across the face of the Cambridge goal, with Labadie there at the right time to expertly guide a calm side footed finish into the top corner from all of four yards.
Ben White was forced to clear one off the line as Cambridge came in search of forcing a replay late-on, only for Labadie to provide a sucker-punch to the U’s with eight minutes to go.
And what a goal it was to book County’s place in tonight’s draw.
After a Cambridge long ball had gone astray, substitute Padraig Amond played a stunning splitting pass into his attacking partner Frank Nouble’s path.
And after resisting the temptation to play the ball early, Nouble skipped past the challenge on the right-hand side, before drilling the ball back to the penalty spot for Labadie to volley home past a helpless David Forde in the away goal.
The result means that for only the second time since the club’s reformation in 1989, County are in the Third-Round proper of the Emirates FA Cup.
And Flynn was ecstatic with his sides performance post-match.
“I’m delighted to get into the next round of the FA Cup,” he affirmed.
“We’re hoping for a big draw because it could make that big a difference for a football club like ours.”
Labadie’s true captain’s performance was obviously singled out for individual praise by Flynn post-match.
It was the first time since 27th September 2014 that Labadie scored two in a game (Dagenham vs York) as he marched away with the fan’s man-of-the-match poll.
And Flynn was delighted to see his captain lead by example and guide the Exiles to victory.
“I thought he was outstanding,” he stated.
“I’ve told him about his timings with his runs into the box and he does that well now.
“He has to keep adding goals to his game and if he does that then I don’t think we’ll keep hold of him much longer.”
Labadie’s early goal was the first goal scored by the Exiles in the first-half since Frank Nouble’s effort in the First Round of this competition.
That means it was just the second time in ten games that a goal came in the opening 45 minutes from County, leaving Flynn pleased to see his side make such a fast start.
“No, a goal can never come too soon,” he commented.
“I will happily take goals whatever time they come.
“We knew against Cambridge that we would have a bit of pressure, we sat back maybe a bit too much in the beginning of the second half and I’ve told the boys that.
“It’s not something we encourage, I don’t know what it was, we were getting a message on to them and they dealt with it.
“After that, I thought we were outstanding again.”
Another key component to County’s victory was the stunning display from the five-man defence.
And Flynn thought every one of them aided the County cause at Rodney Parade.
“The back five were outstanding,” he said.
“Ben White, Mickey Demetriou, Mark O’Brien was brilliant when coming back in.
“Pipey was solid and Dan Butler was solid.
“Dan has just had a baby so it’s a good weekend for him.”
In terms of points to critique, Flynn did feel that his side invited too much pressure at times during the second-half.
“I don’t ever tell them to sit back,” he confirmed.
“Sometimes it just happens, and I thought the first ten minutes of the second-half we did get too deep for my liking.
“But once we got that on board and started pushing up the pitch and making the right decisions then we could have scored a few more.”
All this means Flynn and his players will now prepare for the Third-Round draw later today, which is live on BBC2 from 7pm. The Exiles will be ball number 47.
And Flynn couldn’t hide his feelings as to what draw he ideally wanted.
He commented: “Being a Liverpool fan then I would have to say Liverpool.
“Any of the big clubs really, although I’m not too sure I want to go to Man City now if I’m totally honest. Even somebody like Newcastle would be big for us as-well.”
Purely based on any potential financial gain, Flynn also confirmed he would rather be drawn away from Rodney Parade if it was against one of the bigger sides.
He added: “I’m going to have to put my sensible hat on and say that I’d rather be away.
“It would be worth so much more for the football club and that’s what’s most important to me.”
And Flynn also made sure that he reiterated his ideas as to how he wanted any money to be spent.
He continued: “I’ve said that I’m more interested in building a club here and not just a team. If I can help provide a training ground through the results we get and the revenue that we are bringing in, then that’ll be something I’ll be delighted with and proud of.”
Asked where he will be watching the draw, Flynn confirmed he won’t be able to simply relax at home and watch along.
He said: “Funnily enough I’m at the Welsh Sports Personality of the Year awards at the Celtic Manor so I’ll have to check it on my phone just before the meal.
“I’m not nervous because the boys deserve to be there. It’s going to be excitement and let’s just hope we get another good draw because I think it’s only the second time in 32 years that we’ve been there.”
The draw is taking place live on BBC 2 and BT Sports. The programme will begin at 7pm with the draw beginning at 7.10pm. You can also follow the draw live on Twitter!
NEXT UP AT HOME| We face Carlisle United on the 9th December 2017. Get tickets now.
AFTER THAT| We head to Cambridge United on the 16th December. Get tickets now.