Mike Flynn has challenged his Newport County AFC side to build on the momentum built up in the last two weeks and use it to their advantage when Grimsby Town visit on Saturday.
The Mariners will travel to Rodney Parade on the back of some good away form, having won at Macclesfield Town in their opening League Two away fixture.
They backed that up with another fine showing against MK Dons last time out, and were mightily unlucky to not end Paul Tisdale’s unbeaten streak with the club when having the ascendency until Paul Dixon’s red card.
Their home form hasn’t quite mirrored their exploits on the road but Michael Jolley’s men will come to South Wales in 15th position and just two points away from the Exiles.
And Flynn is anticipating another tough test for his side on the weekend.
“It’s going to be a very difficult game,” he affirmed.
“I had them watched on Tuesday night – Saturday as-well – and I’ve been told they were the better team on Tuesday away at MK Dons.
“They’ve recruited quite a lot of players over the summer and it’s going to be a tough challenge. Anyone that thinks it won’t be tough will have a rude awakening because they’ll be up for it.
“They’ll still think they should have won their game on Tuesday and it’s going to be a difficult football match.
“They’ve got a few suspended so hopefully that might work in our favour. But at the same time, you never know. The person coming in will want to play out of their skin, so they can keep the shirt.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we take care of ourselves and be ready to put the game to bed.”
The Exiles head into the game on the back of a remarkable run of form since the opening day of the season, the emphatic win against Cambridge United in the Carabao Cup sandwiched between getting seven points from nine in League Two.
But the standout result from that run has to be the dramatic stoppage time win against promotion favourites Notts County last time out.
Jamille Matt’s late intervention secured all three points for the Exiles on that occasion and Flynn again reiterated his pride in County’s character to grind out the result at Rodney Parade.
He continued: “The objective we went out for on Tuesday night was the three points and we got it. We made it a lot harder than it probably should have been but credit to the boys, they kept going and we managed to get the win. That’s what they fully deserved.
“This team, this squad is full of spirit. They have really bonded, they are all close and there’s no egos within the dressing room. There’s no fractions within the group, they are all together and even the boys who are not involved – the injured players – people like Crofty and Robbie Willmott are fully supportive.
“They were in the stands at Cambridge coming to watch and cheer on the lads. It’s a good, important ingredient that we need to keep going for the rest of the season.”
The only disappointing element on an otherwise joyous night for Flynn against the Magpies was County’s inability to kill the game off when leading 2-1.
The away side had to rely on the powers of Ross Fitzsimons to keep them in the contest, the shot stopper twice denying the effervescent Padraig Amond with two quick-thinking reaction saves.
They then seemingly stole a point when Kristian Dennis struck with three minutes remaining, only for Matt to pop up and get the deserved result for Coutny when embodying the character and resilience needed in League Two.
And Flynn again sent out a challenge to his players to try and ease his stress levels by killing teams off whilst they are in the ascendency.
He continued: “I would 100% agree with that [we need to kill teams off.] But also, we need to concentrate on not letting the other teams back in to the game because again, the two goals we conceded on Tuesday night were avoidable.
“But like I said, they managed to show the character to come back and win the game.
“We will be talking about it, we’ll do our analysis session this morning before we go out on the pitch and there will be a few things highlighted.
“Whether we win, lose or draw, the analysis is done to make improvements and even though we won on Tuesday night, we’ll be going through chances against, shots against us and then we always finish on the positives.
“We always finish with what we’ve done correctly, and it just helps us talk through it - if there are any issues then we can sort them out and practise them on the pitch.”
Before that dramatic finale at Rodney Parade, Mark Harris was certainly writing the early headlines with another superb display, linking up with Amond to good effect when exploiting their pace behind the Magpies defence.
For Harris, that display was capped off by his second goal in two games, calmly dispatching the opportunity when sent through on goal by Amond.
And Flynn again highlighted the Cardiff City loanee during his pre-match press conference.
He added: “Like I’ve said before, he’s fitted into the group exceptionally well, as have all the loan boys.
“Charlie Cooper, Antoine Semenyo and Tyreeq Bakinson have all fitted in really well and Sparky has his two goals now in two games. He’s loving life right now. I’ve just had that conversation with him this morning and he just said it’s so much better for him here than in the U23s.
“He likes being around the competitive environment and these are some of the things that can go missing if you don’t get out of the U23s. He’s got a good future ahead of him as-long as he keeps improving. He’s got pace, he’s aware and he’s a very, very good finisher.
“All those three combined – he’s got a great chance.”
At his press conference, Flynn was also able to divulge on his injury concerns for Saturday’s encounter with Grimsby Town.
Club captain Andrew Crofts has been out since the Crewe Alexandra game through a problem with his toe, whilst Robbie Willmott hasn’t been able to take to the field at all yet this season having sustained a hamstring injury.
And Flynn admitted that he may be without the duo again on the weekend.
“Crofty’s not far away, Robbie will be a bit longer,” he confirmed.
“I don’t really want to put a time limit on Robbie because every time I do put a time on it and I think he’s coming back soon, there’s a setback. He’s getting the right rehab and advice now and it is what it is. He’ll be back when he’s ready.
“Andrew is a 34-year old in a 16-year old’s body. He loves it, he loves playing football and absolutely hates it when he misses things. He might make Saturday, but I won’t be taking any risks.”
In Crofts’ absence, Tyreeq Bakinson has began to make the shirt his own and has starred for the side since breaking into the first-team at Cambridge.
Flynn commented on the midfielder: “Tyreeq has been outstanding in the last couple of games. It seems like he is improving game after game which is always a good sign.
“And we’ve got Charlie Cooper who can also step in for that role. Andrew is not one I need to rush, and I’ll only do it if I think it’s right for the player and the team.”
The only other injury concerns for the Exiles regard problems sustained in the last week.
Matty Dolan was forced to withdraw on Tuesday having taken a knock, whilst David Pipe started from the bench having not fully recovered from the impact injury sustained to his leg at Exeter City.
But Flynn had much better news on the pair when discussing their returns to the first-team.
He said: “With Matty, I just think he overstretched a little bit. But he’s reported in today and he should be fine.
“Pipey is alright now. I maybe could have risked him on Tuesday if I wanted to, but I thought Tyler Forbes did really well at Cambridge and I had to show faith in him as-well.
“You can see there’s a bounce in his step today because we won the game, he played the full 90 minutes and did very well.”
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