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PRESS | Mike Flynn looks ahead to ending 2017 with a trip to Cheltenham Town

29 December 2017

Mike Flynn says his Newport County AFC squad are prepared to bounce-back from the Boxing Day defeat to Wycombe Wanderers when they head to face Cheltenham Town tomorrow.

The meeting at the LCI Rail Stadium will be the third time that the two sides have met this season, following prior encounters at Rodney Parade in League 2 and the CheckaTrade Trophy.

And Flynn is expecting another difficult test when he takes his side to Gloucestershire.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” he affirmed.  

“I have to be honest and say that I thought that they outplayed us at Rodney Parade when we won.

“But I was also disappointed with them when they played us in the CheckaTrade Trophy and they won.

“Listen, it’s another League 2 football match. It’s whoever makes the least mistakes and takes their chances. That’s it really and hopefully we won’t make the mistakes we did at Wycombe and we’ll take the chances that we didn’t at Wycombe.”

In the opposite dugout at the LCI Rail Stadium will be Gary Johnson, a manager who is closing in on the Football League 1000 club having managed over 900 games in the top four divisions.

And Flynn has admitted he is a big admirer of the career that Johnson has forged for himself within management.

“Gary Johnson is a top man,” he commented.  

“He’s had a very good managerial career and not only that, he’s brought his son on to have a good one as-well.

“Gary is someone that I really have a lot of time for. He’s been through the mire with illness and stood up and fought it which I admire.”

Some early team-news for the game sees the Exiles without a few first team players.

County will head to Gloucestershire without Mark O’Brien and Joss Labadie who are both suspended, while Sean Rigg, Marlon Jackson and Calaum Jahraldo are all expected to miss the game with their respective injuries.

And Flynn confirmed he would be missing several players for the trip.

He confirmed: “Obviously Joss Labadie is suspended now, and Mark O’Brien is also suspended.

“There are also a few down today, who are not feeling great. I’m one of them, I think you can tell by my voice.

“We had two academy boys on the bench against Wycombe and that is what it is.

“I said a few weeks ago that we had to not have any suspensions and get away from picking up any more injuries. Unfortunately, we’ve had two suspensions and picked up a couple of illnesses now.

“Like I said, it is what it is, and I just can’t wait to get to January.”

The game with Cheltenham comes after a disappointing result at Wycombe Wanderers on Boxing Day.

But despite defeat, Flynn remained adamant that he could find a host of good points from the game at Adams Park.

“Of course there are positives,” he stated.  

“You learn so much from losing, sometimes more than winning if I’m honest.

“We started terrible at Wycombe let’s get that right, I don’t think we could put three passes together in the first twenty minutes.

“After that we conceded, okay you might say it’s a bit late after the horse has bolted but we did play well for an hour.

“We created a lot of good opportunities but unfortunately couldn’t take them, and then right at the end we conceded another sloppy goal.

“That’s where we are at the moment. Whoever cuts out the mistakes and takes their chances will go on a run in this league and I think you can see that from what other teams like Lincoln and Port Vale have done.”

“It’s that consistency that we now need.”

And while Flynn did acknowledge the uncharacteristic slow start made by the Exiles during the game, he is happy that the games over the festive period come so thick and fast that his players can quickly react.

He added: “Luckily over the Christmas period you have a short amount of time to get back onto the pitch.

“Although we started slowly at Wycombe, we were the better team for an hour I thought.

“But we gave away two sloppy goals and that was the frustrating part from the game.

“I’ve got a great group, so I know they will rebound, the bounce back ability will be there, and they will be fine.”

Against Wycombe, Flynn made one change to the side as Mark O’Brien missed out with his suspension.

But he also decided to swap the positions of Scot Bennett and Ben Tozer in the County line-up, as Tozer played at centre-half and Bennett in the central midfield.

And Flynn confirmed that this decision wasn’t just down to tactical reasons.  

He confirmed: “I thought Ben did very well because he handled Akinfenwa quite well for the majority of the game.

“But it wasn’t just a tactical decision, he was injured Ben.

“We had to protect him for a game, so it was better having Akinfenwa in-front of him than behind him, so he didn’t get a further knock.”

The game against Cheltenham is the last match that the Exiles will play in 2017.

And asked to reflect on the year for the side, Flynn was mightily pleased with the efforts from his players.

He affirmed: “Every manager will say it, but you do start with a clean slate at the start of a season.

“You want to do as well as you can, but you have to be realistic. We have one of the bottom budgets, but I was confident that I could put a team together that would over exceed expectations.

“At the moment, I feel we are doing that. I didn’t look at the league in August, September and I definitely haven’t looked at it now.

“But we are 10th. We’re doing alright and we’re in the mix. It’s something I’m not getting carried away with but it’s also something that we can look on in the New Year with positivity.”

And asked to comment on the year from a personal level, Flynn believes it is one the best years for himself both on and off the field.  

He confirmed: “For me personally, it was amazing. My little boy Samuel was born, and I kept the club up.

“Couldn’t have gone any better if I’m honest but do I want to be celebrating being 22nd in League 2? No, but I said it wouldn’t happen again so let’s hope it doesn’t happen this season.”

The Exiles won’t have long to recover from the trip to Cheltenham, however, as they face play-off occupying Exeter City on New Year’s Day at Rodney Parade.

And Flynn has already set himself some goals for 2018.  

He said: “I want to improve as a manager and I want to improve the football club.

“I want to improve the boys’ performances because look, I’m hungry.

“I’m hungry and I want to do well. I want to do well by this football club and that’s all I can promise myself really because I know I won’t break that promise.”


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