Take a look at some of the best photos from the gaffer’s first year in charge at Newport County AFC. It’s certainly been an eventful one!
The Great Escape
12 games left, 11 points behind, impossible odds. Michael Flynn took over as Caretaker Manager one year ago today (Thursday 9th March 2017) following the departure of Graham Westley. Just three days later, Flynn and his team had picked up their first win of the Great Escape with a second half equaliser from Dan Butler and 89th minute winner from Joss Labadie.
An away win against Morecambe followed just days later and the Great Escape had begun. County closed the gap and a run of four wins from five meant the Exiles leapfrogged relegation-rivals Hartlepool United on 22nd April. A loss away at Play Off Contenders Carlisle United meant it all came down to the final game of the Season: a home match vs Notts County. Over 7,000 County fans flooded to Rodney Parade to roar their team over the line and witness one of the Club's greatest moments!
Defence was on top that day as inspirational performances from the centre back partnership of Mickey Demetriou and Mark O’Brien saw the Exiles take three points against high-flying Notts County and secure their League Status.
A Permanent Arrangement
On the 9th May 2017, the Board named Michael Flynn as permanent Manager of Newport County AFC. He, along with his team of Lennie Lawrence and Wayne Hatswell, signed new deals as they looked to build on the momentum and backing created by the Great Escape and take it into a new Season.
A Flying Start
In 2016/17, an early trip to Exeter City saw bottom place Newport County AFC face an Exeter City who sat just one place above them. Almost exactly a year later, an undefeated second place Newport County AFC travelled to table toppers Exeter City. How things had changed! The Exiles battled well and eventually fell to a 1-0 defeat but this was a new County and a new era.
What made the Exiles flying start even more impressive was that all of these matches were played on the road whilst Rodney Parade’s new owners, the WRU, were given time to lay a brand new DESSO Pitch.
A Trip to Elland Road
In amongst County’s superb League start was a Carabao Cup victory over League One side Southend United. The victory earned County a Second Round Tie against one of the historic giants of English Football, Leeds United. Whilst County were drawn at home, the fixture had to be reversed whilst the DESSO Pitch was installed. A trip to Elland Road awaited the team.
The players put in a superb performance and even took the lead through a Joss Labadie strike. You could even argue that the Exiles created the better chances early on but it wasn’t meant to be that night and the match ended 5-1 to the Championship Side. Over 600 fantastic County fans weren't left disapointed however and stayed to cheer their team off.
The Home Coming
A Frank Nouble hat-trick, a first County goal for Padraig Amond, a homecoming crowd of over 4,000, and a beautiful sunny South Wales day, what more could anyone ask for their first Home Match of the Season?
Five goals in August also saw Frank Nouble voted Player of the Month meaning County secured consecutive League Two Player of the Month awards following on from Mickey Demetriou’s award at the end of last Season.
Steady as We Go
The Season couldn’t carry on in the way it had started, but County continued to register fantastic results both on the road and at home and were proving a match for any team in the League. Stella performances by loanee Ben White and goals galore from loanee Shawn McCoulsky also meant that the side were staying at the right end of the table and playing entertaining football.
A Day to Remember
A win over out-of-form League One Walsall at Rodney Parade was a great start to an FA Cup Campaign for a team who couldn't congure up many "stand-out" FA Cup Memories between them. By following an impressive First Round win with a Comfortable Second Round victory over victory over Cambridge United meant County had earned a place in the Third Round of the FA Cup for just the second time in thirty-two years.
For the second time, in a second cup, Newport County AFC were drawn at home against Leeds United. But this time it was different, this time there was no need to switch the tie, this time the sides would meet at Rodney Parade! Almost 7,000 supporters piled into Rodney Parade to watch their side face Leeds United.
It was a disastrous start! After just 10 minutes, County found themselves trailing to deflected long-range effort by Leeds skipper Berardi, but resilience was key and County fought back to equalise through an own-goal. Another trip to Elland Road looked to be on the cards but Shawn McCoulsky had other ideas leapt “like a salmon” to head home an 89th minute winner.
Seven Minutes from Heaven
The biggest crowd since 4th April 1983 came to watch “The County” face Tottenham Hotspur on 27th January 2018. The City turned Black and Amber; the Sky turned purple. The atmosphere created by over 9,000 County fans was sensational and the Exiles put on a performance to match. An incredible performance by the side saw them take a well-deserved lead in the 32nd minute through Padraig Amond’s header.
As steadfast, and dogged as the performance was, class told in the end and Harry Kane who’s registered over 30 goals in all competitions this Season, spoiled the party by netting a late equaliser.
A Trip to Wembley
Over 7,000 County fans made the trip to Wembley on a Wednesday night to support the Exiles in a bid to do something very few sides have managed this season ... beat Spurs at Wembley. The team did themselves proud but Spurs were comfortable 2-0 winners in the end and the FA Cup journey was over.
The Final Stretch and Building for the Future
11 games left, 8 points behind, impossible odds. It’s a familiar story as we reach the anniversary of Michael Flynn's appointment as First Team Manager but with a new contract signed which keeps Flynn at the Club until 2022, the future is definitely the focus.