Mike Flynn says his Newport County AFC side must replicate the form shown in stopping Accrington Stanley’s title party at Rodney Parade in midweek if they are to get similar positive results from the remaining three games of the season.
Goals in either-half from Padraig Amond – who extended his lead as County’s top goal scorer to 14 for the campaign – and Frank Nouble were enough to give the Exiles all three points on Tuesday night in what made Stanley wait at-least another four days to be declared champions.
The victory also ensured County’s superb record against the visitors continued – with the Exiles only suffering defeat to the Lancashire outfit on one occasion since returning to the Football League, that coming in 2016 with a 2-0 success for Accrington at Rodney Parade.
It was also the second-time that County had halted Accrington’s long unbeaten record – with the win on Tuesday the first defeat they had suffered in 16 matches, whilst Ryan Bird’s winner last season also ended an unbeaten run of 15 matches.
And Flynn feels that his side must take that steely determination required to win those games into the subsequent matches this season, whilst also trying to learn from the Lancashire outfit – who secured themselves a place in the third tier for the first time in their illustrious history just two weeks ago.
“Of course they are [a team we can learn from,]” he affirmed.
“Nobody likes going to Accrington and nobody likes going to Newport. I had a good chat with John Coleman after the game and he said thank god we don’t have to come here again.
“We seem to be a thorn in their side. Last season they came here 15 unbeaten and we managed to win. This season was exactly the same and we did have a good laugh after the game.
“He wasn’t in the best of moods obviously but that just shows you how much he wanted to win.”
Victory on Tuesday night saw the Exiles move onto 60 points for the campaign and up one place in the League 2 table to 13th position.
County can move above Cambridge United and into the top-half with a win at Rodney Parade tomorrow, while the Exiles also have a game in hand on the U’s.
A record points tally in a season since returning to the Football League is still very much achievable, with the Exiles not too far away from the 65 points that they were able to accumulate in the 2014/15 campaign when finishing in 9th position.
And Flynn feels that when also including a best ever Emirates FA Cup run since 1979 alongside a notable run in the Carabao Cup, the season can be looked back on as an overall positive one.
“They’ve given me there all day in day out and in every game,” he added.
“Are we frustrated with some of the results? Of course we are because there have been games in which we have basically thrown it away. It could end up being a season of what ifs and that’s what we don’t want.
“If you look at it, Accrington have had a team together for a long period of time. Got a good manager who is stable, and he has produced a team which will probably win the league.
“It’s a credit to them and I think it shows that you need the nucleus of a squad and you need to have stability in order to progress.”
For the second season in a row, County will interestingly play their final away game of the campaign at Carlisle United, who recently announced that manager Keith Curle will leave the club at the end of the season to pursue other avenues within football.
Last season’s encounter came as the penultimate game as opposed to the final game of the season like this year, although Flynn will forever remember last season’s trip to Brunton Park.
The Exiles were 1-0 up at half-time thanks to a superb header from Mickey Demetriou and twinned with the fact that Hartlepool United were losing at Cheltenham Town – County were theoretically only 45 minutes from safety.
But the Cumbrians fought back in the second-half to score twice and secure all three points, meaning the stage was set for the ‘Great Escape’ game the following week at Rodney Parade against Notts County.
And Flynn believes he will relish the trip to Cumbria this time out.
He stated: “The last time we went to Carlisle, I’m pretty sure that during the half-time team-talk, I was nearly crying because it was so emotional and so nerve wracking.
“At that point, we were 45 minutes away from being safe and then in typical fashion we had to go and lose.
“It gets to me this football club – it pulls on the heartstrings and it was a lot tenser last season because on the whole, this season has been enjoyable and is one that I think we have really progressed.”
Some positive off-the-field news for the club earlier this week saw both Dan Butler and Scot Bennett commit their immediate futures to the club and sign new contracts.
Butler has signed a one-year deal following two standout seasons with the club since his arrival, taking an active part in becoming the club’s Mental Health Ambassador - alongside working with Norman Parselle and the rest of the Community team in their delivery of the ‘We Wear The Same Shirt’ scheme.
Bennett has signed a two-year deal having originally joined the Exiles on loan in 2015, making over 50 appearances as-well as playing a crucial role in the ‘Great Escape’ and this season’s Emirates FA Cup run.
And Flynn says it is pleasing to tie those two down to contracts before the season reaches its conclusion.
“It’s great news for us,” he affirmed.
“Both are settled in the area. Scot is now on a two-year deal and Dan has a one-year deal. Dan’s coming up to 24 and he wants to play as high as he can so that’s fine with me. It is probably what I would have done as a player.
“The good thing is that Dan has committed to us now. He wasn’t looking to get away because he is enjoying his football.
“Scot bought a house in the area and actually, both are very, very good in the community. They understand what the club is about, and we need people like that – people who understand exactly what this club means to the people of the city.
“I’m obviously happy to tie those two down.”
Some early injury team-news ahead of the final three games of the season sees Bennett ruled out following needing to have stitches on his foot.
Captain Joss Labadie is still continuing to make good progress from his anterior-cruciate-ligament injury, while Jay Foulston – who only recently penned a professional contract at the club – will be unavailable following a call up from Wales.
And Flynn feels the injury absentees will allow more players to have an impact on proceedings before the end of the season.
He commented: “Joss is in good spirits because he’s a strong character both on and off the field. He’s got his head focused and he just needs to find out what he can do to get back fitter and stronger.
“The important part with Joss’s injury is the rehabilitation and not so much the operation. It’s about how you strengthen around the area, so whilst you do feel that you are getting better, you are still a very long way away.
“I’m not a physio but I think it is too early to say whether it is progressing quicker or slower than we originally thought.
“He’s a big miss for us obviously, somebody I’ve got a lot of time for, and he’s a big advantage to this football club.”
He continued: “Scot [Bennett] will unfortunately be out for the season because he has had stitches in his foot. There’s no point in risking him – he might have been able to make Carlisle but there is no point, it gives me a chance to play one or two others.
“Jay Foulston won’t be able to play because he has had a call-up from Wales as-well as having a bit of a knee injury, or where he needs to rest his knee.
“We’ll have to play it by ear and see what we can do.”