Mike Flynn again reiterated the opinion that his Newport County AFC players cannot give a seconds thought towards a potential Emirates FA Cup meeting with Leicester City – until they get the job done in what he himself described as the ‘biggest game of the season so far.’
County have never beaten the Foxes in their history – losing on three occasions and drawing once against a side who won the Premier League title against all odds in 2015/16 before reaching the Quarter Finals of the Champions League in the subsequent season.
The Exiles have the added advantage of knowing the potential Third Round tie would also be live on BBC One on Sunday 6th January in a 4:30pm kick-off.
To achieve that monumental occasion, County must get past a Wrexham AFC side tomorrow at Rodney Parade who have reacted well to the departure of manager Sam Ricketts and won in the National League last time out.
Flynn affirmed: “Because of what’s at stake, this is the biggest game so far this season, yes. Let’s not dress it up because it is.
“It should be an incentive because that would be huge for this football club. But that is also an incentive for Wrexham AFC as well.
“But it’s simple – if we think about Leicester before we’ve beat Wrexham AFC, we’ll fall flat on our faces.
“There will be absolutely no complacency, Graham Barrow is experienced as well [Wrexham AFC interim manager] and he won’t allow that to happen and neither will I.”
Arguably, County were second best at the Racecourse 10 days ago and once again had to rely on the heroics from shot stopper Joe Day to remain in the competition.
In the first-half, some smart play from influential attacker Paul Rutherford gave Bobby Grant a sighting at goal but Day got a strong palm to it, and in the second-half his double save denied Brad Walker then prevented an own-goal when scooping the ball back off the goal line.
Flynn admitted: “I’ll always try and be honest and I didn’t think we were very good at Wrexham AFC. They were good on the day, but we still at least created some chances at the end where we could have won the game.
“We didn’t hit the target which was pretty similar to Saturday if I’m honest. We’ve got to be more dominant in both boxes and I’ve been saying that for a long time now. The penny has to drop.
“Wrexham AFC didn’t surprise me [in the previous game.] We did our homework, they are a good team and they have been top of the National League at times this season for a reason.
“They are a good team and we’ll have to be on our metal to win the game.
“They are supporter owned like ourselves, and they’ve got that togetherness as well. It’s one of those things where you make it a siege mentality with yourselves against everyone else.
“They’ve got that and we’ve got that. The real fans are there week in week out and they support the team through thick and thin.”
It cannot be underestimated how much of a feelgood factor exuded around the city of Newport during the contests with Championship outfit Leeds United and Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur last season.
Flynn continued: “It’s all the publicity, the finances, getting the younger fans over like we did against Spurs last season.
“It brings a feelgood factor around the place and it’ll be going into a New Year and I want to be looking forward to that game in January.
“It really is something we want, and we need at home.”
Some early injury news for the contest with County’s Welsh rivals sees Flynn able to reassure supporters on the severity of injuries sustained on the weekend.
Andrew Crofts and Mark O’Brien will be put through late fitness tests after coming off during the game with Swindon Town, while most of the other walking wounded should be available to return.
“There’s no serious injuries but there’s one or two who are a little bit sore,” he confirmed.
“We’ll make a late decision on Andrew Crofts and Mark O’Brien who both came off on the weekend, so we’ll see how they are.
“We’ve got a few more available in the squad [compared to last Saturday.] Matty Dolan is back, Robbie Willmott is back, Joss Labadie and Scot Bennett did very well on Saturday.
“Antoine was excellent so that’s not a bad five to have back in a starting line-up.”
Excluding one particular result, County have a formidable home record over this season and last season as well – and have only lost eight in the last 48 matches over all competitions at Rodney Parade since Mike Flynn took charge.
Since the original tie with Wrexham AFC at The Racecourse, the Exiles have been out on the road twice – getting knocked out of the CheckaTrade Trophy on penalties to Cheltenham Town before a narrow defeat at Swindon Town in League Two.
Flynn remarked: “I don’t really understand why you get a bit of a difference between home and away. Don’t get me wrong it is the travelling sometimes and that can make you tired.
“But once you’re out on that pitch, it’s 11 against 11. I don’t know why there is that big gap between us home and away but in saying that, that’s only been recently.
“We started the season excellently away from home and we’ll get back to that.”
He continued: “I always back ourselves to win which is why I get so disappointed when we lose.
“I wouldn’t mind as much if it was a great bit of football that split us open or the striker puts one in the top corner.
“That’s probably only happened twice against us and the rest are one mistake, two mistakes, three mistakes, goal.
“It’s all about improving and trust me, we’re trying.”