Playing two-thirds of the remaining fixtures left this season at Rodney Parade must give Newport County AFC the confidence that they can still mount a late push towards the League 2 play-offs, according to Exiles defender David Pipe.
The Exiles fell nine points adrift of the top-seven following the 0-0 draw at Port Vale, even though County did create the better chances throughout the contest in Stoke-On-Trent.
Padraig Amond and Frank Nouble both forced home goalkeeper Ryan Boot into smart reflex saves with attempts in the second-half, while Mark O’Brien was only denied his first of the campaign by a superb reaction header from Vale striker Tom Pope.
Substitute Shawn McCoulsky also curled wide with ten minutes to go, but it wasn’t meant to be for County as they had to settle for a point at Vale Park.
It was a more than deserved draw after a solid defensive display from Pipe and the remaining members of the defensive unit, with the home side only having a Michael Tonge speculative effort clipping the post to show for their efforts.
Post-Match, Pipe spoke exclusively to iFollow Exiles about another solid defensive display against Port Vale, the tough test against 2nd placed Accrington Stanley next weekend as-well as why the club should not yet give up on the prospect of ascending into the play-off positions.
On the draw with Port Vale…
“The game was a little bit patchy to be honest with you. It didn’t take us too long to get into it though, the gaffer changed it up a little bit early on and as soon as we got used to that, we were a lot more solid I thought.
“And I thought if any team was going to win it was us, okay they plugged it forward towards the end, but they were the home team, and I think we had the better chances all in all.
“You can always look at it both ways to be honest with you [in regard to a point gained or two points dropped.] It depends how you want to look at it, when you create a lot of chances then you want to come away with a win.
“But at the end of the day, any away game in this league, even though you go to win the game, a draw is always a good result.
“Hopefully you can turn your home games into wins following away draws and then all of a sudden, you are climbing back up the table.”
On securing a second successive clean sheet in Stoke-On-Trent…
“I think he [Tom Pope] got frustrated to be honest with you. I’ve played against Tom so many times and you’ve got to respect what he does.
“There are a few lads in this league and the leagues above that are known for what they do. They are tough to play against and that’s a positive for them – they are tough to play against because they are good at what they do.
“They bring people into play, they are a handful, he scores a lot of goals and he leads the team.
“So to keep him quiet probably kept the whole team quiet to be honest with you and we are pleased with that.
“If you want to do the whole stat thing, I’m not too sure how many clean-sheets we’ve kept this season, but I’m sure it’ll be up there.
“At one point, we did have the best record defensively. Obviously, we came off that a little bit when we did concede quite a few goals, but we’ve stopped that now.
“Two clean-sheets back to back, Notts County are a tough team so even though it was at home it was still a good clean sheet.
“To come this far and keep a clean sheet is a positive, obviously we have three home games coming up and it’s about taking this momentum and turning it into even more points.”
On how the side must still target the play-offs despite falling nine points adrift of the top-seven…
“I don’t think it’s been spoke about much to be honest with you apart from within Newport, but we had to play a lot of tough away games at the start of the season.
“Five in a row and not many people have said too much about it. Fair play to us, we were able to do that at the start of the season and hopefully now that we’re still in the mix, we can put a home run together and climb back up the table where we belong.
“I fancy us beating anyone at home and that’s not being disrespectful to who comes here, we are a tough team to beat.
“If we do things right, then we will get the points. Without going into last year too much because we are a different outfit and a stronger outfit, we closed a serious points gap.
“So why not do it this year, at the other end, and have that late push?”
On the 288 away fans at Vale Park…
“It felt like double that to be honest with you.
“We had a little look as we always do when you come out of the tunnel because it does give you a lift.
“Fair play to them, they do it week in week out, I’ve commented on it before but these people who spend their hard-earned money to watch us will hopefully be pleased with a point today.
“They all group together [in the stadium] and I like the way that they all group together.
“They didn’t space out, I know it sounds a bit cliché, but it looked like there was a togetherness and that is the type of club we are.
“We stick together, we sing together and when they did sing they out-sung however many fans they had.
“I think we won that battle today.”
On facing an Accrington Stanley side next weekend at Rodney Parade who are now just three points from the top of the League 2 table…
“That’s fine, they can fancy it, but we will fancy it as-well.
“We fancy playing anyone at our place, whether it be in the cup or the league because we approach every game in the same manner.
“We are ready for them, obviously they will come to Rodney Parade and want to win, I don’t expect anything different from them, but we are more than ready.
“It actually felt like a loss up there [in the 1-1 draw] because we were ahead obviously, and they scored late on.
“I remember being sat in the changing room and even though we drew, today you like to come away with a draw at-least away from home, but it did actually feel a little bit like a loss.
“Hopefully we can turn that bitter taste into three points come the weekend.”