The 2-1 victory against high-flying Swindon Town should give Newport County AFC the confidence that a late charge towards the League 2 play-off positions can still be maintained until the final whistle of the season, according to Exiles midfielder Ben Tozer.
County were the side to take the lead at Rodney Parade against Tozer’s former employers, with Padraig Amond netting his 13th goal of the season after just 14 minutes.
The Irishman only needed one touch to control a pinpoint delivery from David Pipe, before volleying an unstoppable effort over away goalkeeper Stuart Moore and into the top corner from just inside the Swindon penalty area.
Another inch perfect cross gave County their second after 35 minutes, this time Tozer rising highest from Ben White’s delivery to plant a header into the bottom corner and give the Exiles a healthy lead at half-time.
Robins half-time substitute Paul Mullin did get the away side back into it on the hour with a header of his own, glancing the minutest of touches onto a Donal McDermott delivery, although the dismissal of Rollin Menayese just four minutes later curtailed any hopes of a late comeback.
That meant it was Tozer to again get the matchwinner against his old side, his solitary effort at the County Ground back in November ensuring that County completed the league double over Swindon Town for the first time since 1956.
Post-match, Tozer spoke exclusively to iFollow Exiles about the home victory for County, how they must use this result to good effect in the remaining five fixtures and why the side are good enough to reach the top-seven in League 2.
On securing a long-awaited home victory against Swindon Town…
“It’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it?
“We obviously had the win at Yeovil but it’s nice to get the win at home. It was a nice day weather wise, the crowd, everything really so yeah it’s just great to get that win after a long time really.
“First-half we were fantastic. But I think it was always going to happen to a certain extent [Swindon growing into the game more during the second half.]
“I think it was a bit too much though where we let them come on to us and we were holding on to a lead. It’s natural but I think we managed the game well.
“We rode it out. We played some nice stuff at times, kept the ball well, and showed a lot of composure today. It’s something that we’ve been critical about ourselves lately for not doing recently.
“The last 10 to 15 minutes were solid, before that we were a little bit all over the place, but like you say we managed it well and it’s great to get a win.”
On scoring again against his former employers and hitting the post from just inside the halfway line…
“Swindon were my first club as in professionally. It’s a great feeling to score in any game, there’s no real special reason why I scored two goals against them this season.
“They’ve both been the winning goals which is great, I should have had another one, but unfortunately it didn’t go in.
“It was an excellent cross from Whitey [Ben White] and I think that goal was quite similar to the one I scored against Barnet last season. Came off the same part of my head and went into the same part of the goal which is great for me personally. It’s just great to be on the scoresheet.
“I think everyone thought the second one was in. I think the pitch must have dried out because of the sun. I was nearly celebrating, I didn’t quite start, but it’s a bit unfortunate really. It now becomes nothing – it could have been a very good goal for me to score. It wasn’t to be but at least we won the game.”
On Padraig Amond’s 13th goal of the season…
“It was a weird one really but he took it really well, had a touch, had a look over his shoulder and you could tell it was in as soon as he hit it.
“It’s great for him to get on the scoresheet because I think it has been a while for him. He had a couple of chances against Coventry which didn’t go in for whatever reason, so yeah it’s great for him.
“It’s also brilliant for him [to be the club’s top scorer outright with 13] and I think he’s unlucky to not perhaps have a few more. Everyone in the squad could have had a few more, but it’s great for him and for us as a team, knowing he will be there to take the chances.
“He always causes problems as-well [with his running off the ball.] Every player obviously has strengths and weaknesses and that is a big strength of his. He doesn’t stop, he’s very busy and he keeps defenders occupied which is great. He did well.”
On why a late push for the League 2 play-offs must go down to the final whistle…
“You’ve always got to keep going even if you are just playing for pride.
“Everyone wants to win – if you don’t then you are in the wrong place I think. You’ve got to want to win every game, every ball, and everything to do with football or even another sport in my opinion.
“If you don’t want to win then there’s no point so we have to try and win every game left before the end of the season. We’ve obviously tried to do that all season, for whatever reason we haven’t been able to do that on occasion, but today it’s something to build on.
“If you look back on the season as a whole, the home games especially, we had a spell before Christmas where we were 1-0 up in a lot of games and then dropped a fair few points.
“Even Accrington away if I remember rightly and then of course more recently, Luton and Coventry, it’s a lot of draws and dropped points from winning positions.
“If we would have been that bit more ruthless in-front of goal, then we would have had the wins and looking even further up the table.”
On trying to further bridge the gap on those play-off places when they travel to a struggling Barnet side next weekend…
“Fifteen points to play for and we’ve got to try and get all fifteen. We’ll see what happens then, it’s out of our hands at the moment [in terms of the play-offs], but one thing that is in our hands is the next five games and we have to try and win them.
“They will be fighting for their lives without a doubt. If they are not, then it’s great for us because we’ll hopefully go down there and punish them.
“We lost against them last time. It was another one of those games where we were 1-0 up and should have seen the game out. We didn’t for whatever reason, it’s a point to prove, and we all remember them celebrating on the pitch and outside of our changing rooms.
“If that’s something to take into the game then that’s something we will have to do.
“I think John Akinde scored the first at Rodney Parade. We all know that he will be a threat, he’s one of them strikers that is a bit of a powerhouse and we will have to nullify that.
“If we want to hit the play-offs, then definitely [we can’t afford to drop any points.] We have to go into every game trying to win it anyway no matter what the circumstances, and I think we have shown that for 95% of our games this season.”