Having strength in depth within the Newport County AFC squad means every member of the team knows they must remain consistent if they want to keep their starting spot, according to Exiles defender Fraser Franks.
Since the opening day defeat at Mansfield Town, the Exiles have been able to put together a remarkable run of results with three wins and a draw in the last 10 days.
Of the four results, the standout one has to be yesterday’s 3-2 victory over promotion favourites Notts County – a result secured by the Exiles in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Kane Hemmings opened the scoring early-on with a clever flick past Joe Day, but the Exiles were the side to take a lead with them into half-time when responding through Franks’ first goal of his spell with County and Mark Harris’ ruthless strike.
The game seemed to be dying down to a steadier pace in the second-half, but Notts County thought they had stolen a point when substitute Kristian Dennis found the net with three minutes remaining.
Other teams would have crumbled after conceding so late, but not County, and the Exiles won it with virtually the last kick of the game when Padraig Amond set-up substitute Jamille Matt to stab home the winner and keep County’s perfect record at Rodney Parade intact.
That resilience to battle back highlighted the true character embodied by the Exiles at Rodney Parade and here, you can read what Franks exclusively told iFollow Exiles following that late finale.
On the most dramatic of victories against Notts County…
"We are absolutely buzzing with the result. Any win at this level has to be enjoyed, you’re going to have tough days, but it’s even sweeter to win like this when you think you’ve thrown it away.
"Yeah it definitely would have been two points dropped [if we hadn’t been able to find the winner.] We felt comfortable throughout the game, it was a sloppy goal to concede in the first-half, but other than that we felt comfortable.
"Their chances at goal were limited but it was a sloppy one to concede, and then after not giving them a sniff second-half, in the final minutes we let their substitute in and he’s tapped one in at the far post.
"But we can speak about character, team spirit and these are the moments where it kicks in – the last few minutes of added time we’re going up for a throw-in then a cross with full belief that we have players who can get on the end of it.
"Fortunately, Jamma scored with the last kick of the game and we are over the moon with this result."
On the goals scored by both teams at Rodney Parade…
"It’s really nice personally to get off the mark. The main thing we want to do is win games and keep clean sheets, but if me, Mickey and Benno can chip in with the odd goal and help the team then obviously we’ll take it.
"I think attack is probably our strongest department at the minute. Jamma’s come on and scored, Podge has set the goals up, Sparky’s got two in two and you’ve not even seen the best of Antoine yet.
"Believe me, Antoine’s going to go a long, long way in the game so it’s four of them pushing each other on and it’s only going to help us.
"Jamma’s come on, he’s ready and he’s pounced on it – I haven’t had one of those late goals for a while and there aren’t many better feelings in football than winning in the last minute.
"It’s massive for us [that they’ve scored eight goals between them in five goals.] It gives you confidence and the belief that at-least one of them can pop up with a goal, we just need to be more ruthless at the other end now.
"Me, Mickey and Benno will take responsibility for the two goals that went in tonight and we’ll do everything we can to prevent it happening again."
On the unity and character portrayed by the squad already this season…
"We’ve settled together really well as a defensive unit. I’ve known Mickey Demetriou from before and I’m actually living on the same road as Scot Bennett now so we’re all close on and off the pitch.
"If we can cut out these silly goals, we’ll be a really solid force. We’ve still got Mark O’Brien to come back in, who is a really good player and will be pushing to get into that three.
"If we take our foot off, somebody else can come in. We just need to keep getting results, keep being solid and just cut out silly errors then we’ll be fine.
"As a squad, I think we’ve got a bit of everything. We’ve got youth, experience – players like Crofty, Robbie Willmott and Mark O’Brien still to come back and pushing for places in the team.
"We’ve got good options, but we won’t be getting carried away. It’s four good results in a row now but it’s still early days in the season. I think this result especially can give us a bit more belief and show some of the youngsters that we can compete in this league and do well."
On how the squad were able to bounce back from the defeat to Mansfield Town and pick up four positive results in ten days…
"Just from working hard. We had a week’s training following the Mansfield game where we looked at where we went wrong and I think we learned from that game.
"I think we showed that in the last game against Exeter because we went 1-0 in that match and fought back. Against Mansfield, we let in a further two goals in the second half and it was game over. Against Exeter we stayed in the game and got our rewards in the end.
"If you’ve got the strikers like we have that can come off the bench and impact the game then we always have belief, it’s two games in a row now where they’ve came on and had an impact."
On trying to keep the good run of form at home going when Grimsby Town visit Rodney Parade on Saturday…
"I’ve not seen too much of Grimsby Town but every game we have here at Rodney Parade, we have to be looking to win. We want to make this place a fortress and it’s two out of two so far so hopefully we can stay consistent and keep picking up results.
"I have to say; the fans were massive for us today. I’m sure that other clubs would have their fans leaving after that equaliser, but ours have stayed until the end. They’ve been nothing but positive since I’ve been here, got behind the boys, it really does make a big difference and we’ve rewarded them for staying."
From just £4.49 per month or £45 for a Season Pass, you will have access to exclusive post-match interviews after every match, exclusive behind the scenes content, full match replays, extended highlights (with commentary) from all EFL Matches and full LIVE commentary from EVERY Newport County AFC match.
The majority of your iFollow fee goes to straight back to the Club. Subscribe today and help support your Club!