Mike Flynn has admitted that tomorrow’s clash with MK Dons at Rodney Parade will take special precedence knowing it’s his 50th home match as Newport County AFC manager.
He’s also closing in on 100 competitive fixtures as manager since taking to the hotseat on 9th March 2017, but he’ll have to wait until Boxing Day’s match with Forest Green Rovers for that particular statistic.
Acknowledging the landmark occasion for himself, Flynn commented: “It’s good, nice to know it’s my 50th home game in charge and hopefully we’ll get the win for the landmark occasion.
“I won my first game with the club [away at Crewe Alexandra,] so let’s try to get one this time at Rodney Parade.”
In what has to be one of the best records for an opening set of 49 home fixtures, the Exiles have only lost on eight occasions at Rodney Parade since Flynn took charge of the club, with only five of them coming in League Two.
Flynn affirmed: “It’s a great record, the fans have been a little bit spoilt at home considering what went on before it but that record means nothing now. It’s done and dusted and let’s hope the next 51 are as good as the last 49.”
There are so many highlights to choose from in terms of momentous occasions for Flynn in home matches at Rodney Parade, both in terms of league and cup performances.
“Listen, there’s load I could choose from,” he admitted.
“You’ve got the Leeds and Tottenham games in the Emirates FA Cup because of the magnitude of the competition.
“But it would probably be the Notts County game at home on the last day of the season for obvious reasons. That would be the best because everything was riding on it.”
Standing in Flynn’s way of victory on the big day will be a MK Dons side who currently sit top of the League Two table by two clear points.
The Buckinghamshire outfit have lost only one of their last 13 League Two fixtures and within that run, they have won nine of the last 11.
Flynn said: “Paul Tisdale has done a very good job. He’s a very good manager and he did extraordinary at Exeter City.
“He likes to play football, can mix it up as well, so he’s gone in their and picked up a club who were maybe felling sorry for themselves after a relegation. He’s got them back to where they think they should be towards the top of the league and going for promotion.
“It’s a tough game because I think they are the best team in League Two. You only have to look at the run they’ve gone on and it’s going to be a tough one.
“But it’s one that I’m confident that if we’re on our metal and play to the best of our ability then we can win the game.”
Within the MK Dons ranks are Rhys Healey and Alex Gilbey – two players who starred whilst with the Exiles during their respective loan spells with the club.
Flynn admitted: “It’ll be nice to see a few familiar faces – but it’ll be better if they’re sad faces after the game because it’ll mean we’ve won.
“Rhys Healey and Alex Gilbey are two really good boys.
“Alex was brilliant for us when he came in on loan at a young age. He had the energy to do my running at that point so I could just sit and organise. He was big for us especially in the play-offs.
“We’ll find out if Rhys is fit tomorrow when we see the team sheet. It’s going to be a tough game regardless, they’ve got good players throughout their squad and we’ve got to be on it. If we are, then I think we’ll win the game.”
County head into the game off the back of one their most emphatic results so far this season – a 4-0 triumph over Welsh rivals Wrexham AFC in an Emirates FA Cup Second Round Replay.
Reflecting on the mood within the camp, Flynn stated: “The players just took it in their stride like they have done all season. It’s good to get a good win in midweek, clean sheet, and it sets us up nicely for Saturday.
“I don’t even think the players need to be told [that focus cannot be on Leicester City.]
“They are a good group, they are professional, and they are very focused. They’ve done themselves proud, done the staff proud this season and that’s what I want them to keep doing because we’ve got a chance of doing something great this season.
“I really hope I’m building something special here. We kept the spine of the team together from last season and I think that’s why we’ve started so well this season.”
He added: “One thing my players are is 100% focused and motivated.
“Yes, we have our off days at times, but you tell me a team that doesn’t have off days. Manchester City lost the other day so that proves it happens. We’ve just got to make sure we go on a bit of a run, remain consistent until the end of the season and it’ll leave us in a good position.
“We’ve all come together and we’re playing some really good football. We have a team spirit that I’ve probably only seen on one other occasion in my whole career – and that includes as a player and as a manager.”