A mental toughness to see out games is what has propelled Newport County AFC to the cusps of the play-off positions, according to Exiles goalkeeper Joe Day.
The Exiles have won every game in 2018 by a 2-1 scoreline, the most recent coming against Crawley Town on Friday Night at Rodney Parade.
After seeing two attempts from Padraig Amond and Robbie Willmott ricochet back off the crossbar early on in the game, County finally breached the Crawley goal with the opener on 40 minutes.
Ben White and Amond combined just like they did for the goal at Cheltenham last month, another inch perfect cross from the centre-back giving the Irishman a simple job of heading home the opener from 10 yards.
Within four minutes of that goal, County had doubled their advantage against the Red Devils, Mickey Demetriou converting the first penalty awarded to the Exiles so far this campaign with a composed finish into the bottom left corner.
Crawley got themselves back into the contest just three minutes after the interval, away captain Jimmy Smith reacting quickest to an aerial tussle between Thomas Verheydt and Joe Day to slot home a reply.
Day then saved from Arjan Tajbakhsh late on to help County preserve their 100% start to 2018, celebrating his 150th league appearance in a County shirt by collecting all three points.
Post-match, Day spoke exclusively to iFollow Exiles about reaching that milestone for the club, how he thought the game went as-well as reflecting on his 171 games in all competitions for Newport County AFC.
On reaching 150 league appearances for the club and his hopes for the future…
“Firstly, thank you, I’m quite proud to have reached 150 league games for Newport.
“Highest points have to be staying up on the last day of the season last year with Mark O’Brien’s wondergoal, that’s another high moment.
“Away from the league, beating Leeds in the cup is a high point, even drawing Tottenham is a high point.
“There’s been a few, but obviously it’s not been all great either.
“Last season and the season before has been a relegation battle and it’s nothing that we want to repeat or ever be involved in again.
“It’s really good to be at the right end of the table this year, I had a feeling over the summer that we could carry that momentum over and everything seems to be going well this season.
“We’ll just keep that positivity and feel good factor going as long as we can.
He continued: “I was with Peterborough at the time when I came here on loan, was frustrated on the bench every week and I wanted to play games.
“I voiced that, and the opportunity came when Justin got on the phone and was able to bring me here. That loan spell went really well and the opportunity to extend that loan eventually made it permanent, and it was something I just knew I had to do.
“Immediately I felt welcomed here and haven’t really looked back. I just wanted to keep playing every week and to notch up 150 league games for Newport is something I’m proud of.
“Me and my wife love it in South Wales, my little boy was born in Abergavenny as-well at Neville Hall.
“We love it here, we’re settled here, and for sure I could see myself making another 150 games, that would be nice.”
On the encounter with Crawley Town…
“I thought first-half we completely outplayed them with a real confidence and edge.
“And then second-half, started poorly, and obviously an error came from myself which I’m really disappointed with, and it sort of made it very difficult to get to the level we were at first-half after that.
“The pressure was on, our backs were against the wall and I’m just really grateful to the lads that they were able to see the game out and my error didn’t cost us the three points, so I’m very happy with that.”
On the two goals scored by the Exiles on the night…
“We needed to come in at half-time with a scoreline that reflected the performance and eventually we did that.
“Again, the lads didn’t get frustrated, we kept chipping away and the two goals came.
“A great finish again from Podge, that’s a great header and he’s making a real habit of scoring those types of header from that sort of range.
“And Mickey takes the penalties, he’s stepped up and coolly put it away for us.
“That meant we went in at half-time with a scoreline that I felt reflected the first-half.”
On the selection process of Mickey Demetriou as penalty taker…
“To be fair to him, he practices them every day after training and it has paid dividends because his penalty has won us the game.
“He’s the man, he steps up and takes the pressure on his shoulders and he delivered today so I’m really pleased for him.
“I think off the backend of last season with him scoring when he did, he’s managed to keep his position of penalty taker.
“Like I said, fair play to him he does practise them every single day although they don’t all go in mind!
“He scored today so I’m chuffed for him and the team as-well.”
On the goal scored by Crawley Town at Rodney Parade…
“It’s disappointing from myself because the goal came from an error by me.
“To be fair, I’ve held my hands up and every single one of the lads said put your hands down and patted me on the back and said that I’d saved us so many times this season.
“There’s a real good team spirit when I’ve got that from the lads and I’m really proud of them for seeing the game through.
“But it did make the game more difficult, it’s mentally tough and the momentum changed. Goals change games and that one changed it very quickly.
“It’s a cliché but it was a game of two halves in the end and I feel maybe because of that goal, it became like that.
“But again, we stood up strong and saw the game out and I’m really pleased to get the three points in the end.
He added: “It’s tough because I was really angry with myself.
“But you just have to clear your head and take each moment as it comes.
“The last thing you want to do is let that occupy your mind and then maybe make another mistake, that’s the last thing you want to do.
“So it’s important to just clear your mind and you know, just take each moment in the game as it comes.
“Thankfully I was able to do that and thankfully we didn’t concede again.”
On whether County can record yet another 2-1 win against Morecambe on Tuesday…
“No I want a clean-sheet this time!
“Obviously, we’re confident. It’s an undefeated start to 2018 so we’ll want to keep that going as long as possible.
“Morecambe seem to be a bit of a bogey team to us but that means nothing to us really, they are coming to our town now and we’ve got to do a job on them.
“We’ll prepare with everything as professionally as we can, and we’ll be as ready as we can.”