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PRESS | Mike Flynn looks ahead to the trip to Cambridge United

14 December 2017

Mike Flynn says his squad are ready for another difficult away game when they travel to face Cambridge United on Saturday.

The Exiles head to Cambridgeshire for the second meeting with the home side in just 13 days.

And while County won that game 2-0 at Rodney Parade, Flynn is adamant that Cambridge will not be going out with the sole intent of revenge this time out.  

He stated: “I don’t think they’ll be thinking revenge, but I think that they will want to get a good result under their belts to kick their Christmas period off.

“I’m sure Shaun Derry is no different to me, he’s a winner.

“He’s been brought up with the right ethics in football, so he’ll want to win every game and let’s just hope it doesn’t start this Saturday.”

Asked on whether playing the U’s less than two weeks ago could be seen as a help or a hindrance, Flynn maintained that he has treated this game as he would do with any other.

“We prepare exactly the same as we do every week,” he confirmed.

“We do our analysis, show a video on their strengths and weaknesses. We work on things that can help exploit those weaknesses and stop their strengths.

“That’s how we work our week. We work on our physical output throughout the week so I’m not going to do an 11v11 game for an hour tomorrow because that will shatter them for Saturday.

“That would be absolutely crackers, but we’ll do a bit of shape work today on how they are likely to play, and we’ll try and stop that.

“It depends then on the day when they cross that white line if the players can perform.

“You only need three or four off their game to make it a tough day but if you get eight or nine on their game then it can become a comfortable day.”

The Exiles head to Cambridge seeking their first win at the Abbey Stadium since 23rd February 1985 when a Neville Chamberlain strike and an own goal secured a 2-1 away victory.

And Flynn is expecting it to be just as difficult a place to go to on Saturday, as the home side are seemingly better in-front of their own fans rather than on the road.

“It’s a tough place to go,” he affirmed.

“I know the big striker is out through suspension so that’s good for us because he’s a handful.

“But I’m sure whoever Shaun puts in will be chomping at the bit to keep his place and make it a tough afternoon for us.”

There are no fresh injury concerns for the Exiles ahead of the trip.

That means only long-term absentees Calaum Jahraldo and Marlon Jackson will miss the game.

Flynn added: “No injury concerns apart from Calaum and Marlon.

“Ben Tozer has been back in now and Scot Bennett has trained fully this week.

“At the minute, we’re full and ready to go.”

The game comes after the 3-3 draw with Carlisle at Rodney Parade last weekend.

And Flynn is eager to eradicate some of the mistakes from that game this time out.

“I’m just putting it down to one of those days,” he said.  

“I thought we played excellent on Saturday. It was interesting to read Keith Curle’s comments because he must have been watching a completely different game.

“Yes we have a long throw, yes we will use it. But some of the football we played was excellent and I was disappointed because I have a lot of time for Keith and sometimes you just have to say that you were outplayed by Newport.

“The three goals I’m putting down to a bad day at the office because we haven’t looked like conceding anything like that all season if I’m honest.

“For three of them to happen in one game was uncharacteristic of the players and of us as a group.

“But that is how strange a day it was last weekend.

“We drew a game 3-3 at home after giving away uncharacteristic goals. Scored some excellent goals, gained a point on the play-offs but went down three places.

“So I think that basically summed up the Saturday.”

Speaking more specifically on the goals conceded by the Exiles against the Cumbrians, Flynn says he is hopeful that it was a one-off from his defence and he won’t be looking to implement wholesale changes this weekend.

“I just right it off as a bad day,” he confirmed.

“There was a lack of communication, but I think you only have to look at the Cambridge game to see how well they defended.

“You don’t become bad players or a bad unit overnight so it’s just mistakes, mistakes happen because this is League 2 and I’m sure we’ve seen mistakes in the Premier League as-well this week.

“Tell me a player that has never made a mistake and I’ll call you a liar.”

All of County’s three goals at Rodney Parade came courtesy of set-plays.

Matty Dolan scored two superb free-kicks while Shawn McCoulsky’s opener came after a Robbie Willmott delivery into the area.

And Flynn says it just goes to show how vital set-plays can be in League 2.  

He stated: “We score from set-plays, we’ve got good delivery because we work on them.

“Some of the world’s biggest tournaments have been won on set-plays.

“You look at the France vs Brazil World Cup Final and I’m almost certain that two of the three goals come from set-plays.

“Champions League won by set-plays, Man Utd beat Bayern Munich in 1999 with two set-plays.

“They are a massive importance at any level, we work on them and score a lot of them.

“But our other play on the majority has also been very good. Don’t get me wrong, there has been one or two occasions where it’s not been good enough and it’s not been to the standard that I like.

“We are all entitled to an off day, but the players have been magnificent this season.”

The draw left the Exiles in 12th place in the League 2 table but just a point outside the play-off places.

And Flynn is optimistic that his side can break into the top seven before Christmas.

He continued “I think we’re in with more than a sniff because we’re only one point off.

“As mad as it is, if we draw at Cambridge then I think we can go in the play-offs on goal difference.

“I don’t think our goal difference is one of the worst there. I know Grimsby are on minus and they are up there.

“We’ll be going there for the win like we do every game and hopefully we come away with the three points.”

Lamar Reynolds came on as a second-half substitute at Rodney Parade last weekend for what was his first league minutes in just over a month.

And Flynn had some words of encouragement for his attacker after his last cameo appearance.

“I think being amongst us day in day out is crucial,” he confirmed.

“At one point you think he could win us the game on his own and at other times you think he could cost us the game.

“People might think I’m being harsh but there were two or three things which he did, and we were counter-attacked on.

“He’s just got to learn that part. I’m not criticising him to be horrible, but I need to give him some encouragement.

“He’s got a bright future and I am a big fan of his.”

The Carlisle game also represented exactly nine months since Flynn took over the Exiles.

And he confirmed that he is happy with the progression shown by the team over this period.

“I think we are way further ahead if I’m totally honest,” he affirmed.  

“We stayed up with a few minutes to go last season, only the second time we’re in the FA Cup round three in 32 years and we’re one point off the play-offs.

“I think it’s been a very good season so far considering what we’ve put up with the last few years. The style of play is a lot better, but we can still improve.

“We need the same kind of fight as last season all the way to the end. If you look at it, it’s one and a half points per game throughout the season. If we carry on like that, we’ll be in with a shout of the play-offs going on previous tallies.”

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