Mike Flynn says he firmly believes his Newport County AFC side can put their Carabao Cup exit behind them by returning to their positive league form at Port Vale tomorrow.
Oxford United’s victory at Rodney Parade in midweek was the first time County had tasted defeat at home in any competition since April – and prevented the Exiles from reaching the Third Round of the competition for the first time since 1962.
The Exiles can, however, make amends for that defeat when they travel to Port Vale on Saturday – a team they haven’t defeated since 1987.
The Valiants are one of only four teams to boast a perfect home record in League Two so far this season – County, Swindon Town and Lincoln City the others – and currently reside in mid-table.
Vale Park is a place familiar for Flynn from his playing days, and he is under no illusions as to how difficult a test it will be for his side.
“They’ve signed some very good players,” he affirmed.
“It’s tough, always tough going to Port Vale so it’s going to be a tough game – like every game is in League Two.
“It will be a battle and if we don’t win those battles or defend and attack right in both boxes then we’ll probably end up losing the football match.
“I’m looking for a reaction from my players and a bit more quality from what we showed on Tuesday.
He continued: “I have plenty of experience going to Port Vale, many times as a player and obviously last season as a manager. It is a huge pitch. Hopefully, we can take advantage of that.”
Heading into the game, County are on a remarkable run of league form since defeat on the opening day, and have picked up ten points from the last 12 available.
At this stage last season, the Exiles finished August with eight points – although only four matches were played during the opening month of the 2017/18 campaign.
And Flynn believes that even though nothing is set in stone during the opening month of the campaign, he believes his side have the capabilities to back it up across the season.
“No I’m not surprised at all [by our start]," he continued.
“We just take every game one by one as we keep saying, got a good group of players who are determined to do well for the football club and themselves.
“We do a lot of work on preparing the team to be right so I’m not surprised. Am I getting carried away? No, we’re still in August at the moment, it’s been a good start but nothing else.”
He continued: “We started well last year as-well and that was coming off the first five games in a row being away. The points tally we had at this point last year was good as-well. We’ve started well but it’s only one month out of a nine/ten-month season.
“The players have to keep backing it up.”
Against the Valiants, County will also have the opportunity to avenge their first defeat of the season at Rodney Parade. Reflecting on the Oxford tie, Flynn added: “Look, we lost against a team who started better than us and scored two goals in four minutes.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, if you concede that early then it’s always going to be an uphill challenge.”
For the game against the League One outfit, Flynn made five changes to the side which included a first competitive start for both Antoine Semenyo and Charlie Cooper.
County also had a few injury concerns that forced some of those changes to be made at Rodney Parade, but Flynn confirmed his squad is in a much better place ahead of travelling to Stoke-On-Trent tomorrow.
He stated: “We might make some changes [from Tuesday night] but on the injury front, it’s a bit more positive than it was going into the Oxford game.
“They are okay [Matty Dolan and Mark Harris], a bit better than Tuesday. One had a dead leg and the other has a problem with his pubic bone. We’ll have to make sure they are both right.
“Yeah [we’ve got players to call upon if needed.] That was the importance of getting some minutes into the legs of a few on Tuesday. It’s not that I didn’t care about the cup or anything like that, I have to think about the long-term and what is the best situation for the team.
“I did the best thing for the players and the football club on Tuesday night, take away the start and I thought they did quite well.”
Despite County having a weekend off from Rodney Parade, there is still a vital game being staged at the stadium tonight.
Jayne Ludlow’s Wales Women’s team can qualify for their first ever World Cup if they beat Phil Neville’s England side in-front of a sell-out crowd in South Wales.
Giving his verdict on the qualifying match, Flynn continued: “It’s a huge game.
“I’ll be there tonight and supporting the Welsh team. Hopefully they can get the job done and go on to qualify for the World Cup. I’m sure it’ll be a great atmosphere, it will be strange for me not being in the dugout there but it’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“I’m going to go for a 2-1 win. I know Wales haven’t conceded for a while, but I think England will be tough.
“It’s winner takes all, so I think somebody is going to go for it. And once one goal goes in then the other team will have to come out so let’s hope Wales get the first goal.”
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