The target for Newport County AFC from now until the end of the season must be attempting to set a record points tally since returning to the Football League, according to Exiles goalkeeper Joe Day.
The victory against Cambridge United last Saturday in the final home game of the season saw the Exiles rise to 11th place in the table and up to 63 points, just two off the total accumulated in the 2014/15 campaign.
Day’s defensive marshal in Mickey Demetriou opened the scoring at Rodney Parade after just 26 minutes of the contest, breaking the offside trap to pass the ball home from little more than three yards having been found by fellow centre-half Mark O’Brien.
That lead was doubled shortly before the hour mark as Frank Nouble ascended into double figures for the campaign.
County substitute Aaron Collins did superbly well to get to the by-line and cross the ball into the area, finding Nouble unmarked at an acute angle for the striker to calmly volley an attempt into the top corner.
Cambridge midfielder George Maris prevented Day from getting his 14th clean sheet of the season when finding the net from outside the area with nine minutes remaining, drilling a shot into the bottom right corner after being set up by striker Billy Waters.
The Exiles managed to hold out from there and secure the victory, their third over Cambridge this season, while it also meant County concluded their Rodney Parade exploits for the season with three successive league victories.
Post-match, Day spoke exclusively to iFollow Exiles about that victory at Rodney Parade, why the side must now be targeting a record points tally in the Football League and how they can do that if they pick up a victory from the final two games of the season against Chesterfield and Carlisle United.
On the third victory against Cambridge United this season…
“It’s a really nice way to finish the home run in [with a third successive home league victory.]
“Obviously we’ve all been a bit frustrated with the form perhaps leading up to those three wins because we know what we can do. But this is a nice way to finish the home games this season.
“Cambridge are a team that we have come across a few times this season, got the win each time, so I’m sure they will be glad to see the back of us this season.
“It was disappointing to concede – I thought we would see it out with a clean sheet. Their player has found some space on the edge of the area and finished it quite well.
“We were by far the better team I feel. They had a couple of chances, but I don’t think I had too many saves to make - maybe the free-kick in the first-half - but I think we caused them more problems than they did us.
“I thought we were good value for the win and we’re delighted to have got that today.”
On the goals from Mickey Demetriou and Frank Nouble at Rodney Parade…
“Mickey this season and when he played for us last season is just a player who gets those goals for you.
“As a defender, chipping in with goals is invaluable and today he has helped us get the three points.
“He’s always been a goal threat ever since I first played with him and it’s fantastic to have a defender in-front of me who is also a goal threat.
“With Frank being a striker, I can imagine that [reaching ten goals for the season] is a massive milestone for him. Delighted for him because Frank, although he seems laid back at times, I can tell you that he works really, really hard.
“I know how much that would have meant to him and what a finish as-well! Really pleased for him.”
On the plans for the remainder of the campaign and into next season as-well…
“With the play-offs out of reach now, we’re playing for personal pride obviously but it’s also nice to have something that we can target towards – and beating that 65-point tally [from the 2014/15 campaign] is something we can aim towards.
“Two games left to achieve that now. The gaffer asked us a couple of games ago whether we could finish the season well, I think there were four games left at that point and we just thought to get four wins.
“Play with a bit more freedom if you like, the pressure has been off us, and that 65-point tally we want to beat that.
“The plan ahead of next season is always to progress.
“Maybe it hasn’t been as rapid as we would have hoped but it has been steady progress. That’s all you can really ask for to be honest, as long as you improve on what you did in the previous year.
“If we can improve on what we have done this year and take it into next year, perhaps go on another cup run, but I think in the league we have to give it a real good go at promotion next year.
“I know everyone at this club next year will see that as a target.”
On attempting to break County’s record points total in the Football League when they travel to Chesterfield on Tuesday night…
“I don’t think you can read anything into that [Chesterfield having nothing to play for after relegation was confirmed.]
“Professional footballers are competitive by nature and you don’t make it as a Football League player if you haven’t got that determination and a will to win.
“So I don’t think they will turn up thinking there is nothing to play for – there is still pride and things like that.
“We’ll go up there and we’ll plan as we would any other game and try to get those three points against what we expect to be a full strength and full-fledged Chesterfield team.
“Frank turned out a massive performance for us that week when we last played Chesterfield. I’m sure he will want to do something similar up there again and add to his tally. If we can get a similar scoreline then we’d be very happy.”
On the final away game of the campaign coming against Carlisle United for the second season running…
“I remember going up their last season, that was a stressful game.
"I remember going in at half-time 1-0 up and thinking, how are we winning this game? And we knew that if we would have won then we would have secured our league status.
“It was like the Alamo second-half and unfortunately, we didn’t get the three points which made for another very stressful week.
“But in the end, a brilliant finish to the last game of the season. A bit less pressure if you like this time around, but I’m sure we’ll go there, enjoy the occasion, and try to finish the season on a high.
“It can be extra motivation for them I guess [the announcement that manager Keith Curle will leave the club at the end of the season.] It would be a thank-you to him and also a statement for whoever is coming in for them.
“Like I say, we’ll prepare as best we can. Even though it’s the last game of the season, we will treat it like any other game, try and get the three points and try to get as big a point tally as we can.”