Mike Flynn believes his Newport County AFC side were well worth the point obtained from a gritty and hard-working performance at the Energy Checks Stadium at Gigg Lane against play-off chasing Bury FC.
It was certainly an enterprising game throughout, neither side giving the other any time to settle on the ball and forcing it to be moved through the phases quickly.
It was always going to take something special to break the deadlock against the stubborn defences of both teams and Nicky Maynard provided it on 24 minutes when showing all his previous Premier League experience.
All the play from the home side was coming through the instrumental Danny Mayor and when he found Maynard free on the centre-circle, the striker spun past Mickey Demetriou before carrying the ball through on goal and curling a delightful shot past Joe Day from outside the area.
That was the main chance of note from the first-half but just like three days before, County again seemed to liven up after the restart and that resulted in finding the desired equaliser after 56 minutes.
After working a corner-kick tactic well, substitute Antoine Semenyo received the ball on the edge of the box, sending a pinpoint delivery to the far post where the awaiting Jamille Matt tapped home for his ninth of the campaign.
County still had to work extremely hard to get their point in Greater Manchester and once again required the heroics of Joe Day to obtain it.
Maynard looked for all the world like he’d double his individual tally when connecting to a Mayor cross, but Day got a strong hand to it, whilst the Exiles shot stopper also reacted quickly to narrow Maynard’s angle when free in the box and force him wide.
Mayor, making his 300th appearance for the home side, was certainly looking to celebrate the occasion with a goal, but even he couldn’t breach Day who again magnificently denied the dancing feet of the midfielder after he had waltzed his way past several challenges before getting the shot away.
That resilient performance from all areas of the pitch saw County hold out for their point – and Flynn thought it was nothing more than his side deserved following the desired reaction from the weekend.
He affirmed: “I’m delighted with the point tonight because I think Bury FC are a very, very good team – especially at home. They move the ball well and Danny Mayor is probably the best player I’ve seen in the league so far this season.
“After going 1-0 down to a mistake, I thought we were a lot better in the second-half. I don’t think we were great in possession but our whole unit, the defensive shape was a lot better.”
Flynn couldn’t not praise the home side for their performance as well, with the Shakers still full of momentum following their 4-0 thumping of Notts County three days earlier.
And Flynn believes County picking up a point in Greater Manchester shows just what a match his side can be to the favoured teams for promotion at the start of the season.
“Bury FC are a very good team,” he stated.
“There won’t be many teams who win here, unless Bury FC have a really bad off day. I thought they were very good tonight, played good football, their movement was good, and they’ve got strength in depth as well.
“They’ve got a great chance this season [of promotion] but that’s what you expect from a team who have just come down from League One.”
Despite only having 39% possession in the game, it would be unfair to say that County were happy to sit on their point as the clock ticked towards the end of the game.
Flynn threw Cameron Pring on to try and attack the Bury FC defence with his tremendous pace, and it took the best efforts of Will Aimson to deny the left-back feeding Semenyo with the last play of the game.
Flynn added on the performance: “Even at the end where Cameron Pring has gone forward, Tyler Forbes went forward – we weren’t just sitting back.
“We looked to hit them on the counter attack and we had to keep our shape. We had to keep Danny Mayor off the ball because like I said, I thought he was outstanding.
“I thought we might have nicked it which would have been really good.
“It’s stopped the rot, they’ve bounced back and put in a much more solid performance and let’s not forget, we’ve still got six players missing.
“I thought tonight was a lot more like us – hard working, hard to beat and even though it wasn’t great at times, we dug in and it’s a big statement from the players tonight that they could come to a place like Bury FC and come away with a point.
“That’s brilliant for them.”
Just like on the weekend, County looked like a different team in the second-half and on this occasion, that was down in no small part to the introduction of Semenyo.
The Bristol City loanee dragged players out wide to allow more freedom for the midfielders, alongside getting the assist for Matt’s leveller.
Flynn commented on the attacker: “I thought Antoine Semenyo was outstanding. He was unfortunate not to start and I’ve now got a big problem ahead of me for Saturday because he’s been superb, and he was a real thorn in their side tonight.”
County’s manager must now surely be running out of superlatives to describe his goalkeeper after he yet again saved the side and earnt them a favourable result.
He affirmed: “Joe Day has made two saves tonight that were of the highest quality. If they were in the Premier League those two saves, then they’d be on about them for the whole of Match of the Day and things like that.
“The two saves he made were excellent but that’s what he’s there for and I’m glad he made them tonight because it’s given us a good point.”
With several road closures in and around the stadium, as well as a large volume of traffic created by Manchester United hosting Juventus in the Champions League, it took the County coach five and a half hours to arrive in Greater Manchester.
That therefore meant it was a similar timeframe for the supporters but 88 still turned out in the numbers despite also having the lure of the midweek fixture being available to stream on iFollow.
Flynn stated on another incredible away showing: “Of course it does [show the true heart of this football club.] They were excellent, didn’t stop singing all game even when we were losing.
“It’s very easy in this day and age to become negative when things don’t go your way, but they kept singing all the way and I’m glad we got a point for them tonight.”
In the hours leading up to kick-off, Flynn was handed another welcome boost as Joss Labadie re-joined the Exiles until the end of the season.
Flynn commented: “Joss will be big for us – I can’t wait to get him back on the pitch.
“He’s had a lot of teams interested in him which means he’s staying here for the right reasons and I’m absolutely delighted because I think he’s a very good player and he can make a difference for us.
“He’s a big presence on and off the pitch – we’ll work hard with him now to get him up to match speed and he’ll be involved when ready.
“I’m excited to see him back in a Newport County AFC shirt.”
NEXT UP | We are back home at Rodney Parade where we face Morecambe FC. Get Tickets Here.
AFTER THAT| We are travelling to Carlisle United on 3rd November. Tickets available here.