Mike Flynn believes November will be one of the ‘toughest’ months of the season for his Newport County AFC side as the Exiles continue to battle on three different fronts.
The Exiles will start another Emirates FA Cup journey with a trip to the Metropolitan Police in just over a weeks’ time, while the picture is as clear as crystal in terms of the CheckaTrade Trophy.
Chelsea U21s thumping victory against Plymouth Argyle means the Exiles will definitely go through with a win of their own against the Pilgrims at Rodney Parade on Novemnber 13th, while a victory by a margin of four or more will guarantee a home tie in the knockout stages.
Before continuing those cup adventures, however, the Exiles have the long trip to Carlisle United to navigate first as they look to continue closing the gap on the automatic promotion places and league leaders Lincoln City.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Flynn affirmed.
“I know Shez [John Sheridan] and he’s a very, very good manager. He was a top player as well and he’ll have them ready to respond after a bit of a disappointing run.
“He won’t stand for that for too long because he’s somebody who I think has done very well in the game and is somebody who I have a lot of respect for.”
In the opposite dugout for Carlisle United is the aforementioned John Sheridan, who County fans should remember from his short stint in charge of the Exiles in late 2015/early 2016.
Arguably the main protagonist in County staying up that season, Sheridan won five of his 17 games in charge, including going seven unbeaten in League Two where within that run, the Exiles secured an unbelievable 4-1 away victory against Bristol Rovers.
“John is a winner who doesn’t suffer fools,” Flynn continued.
“He’s a good coach, very tactically aware, and they’ll be in our faces on Saturday. They’ll be up for it and if they’re not then that’s better for us. But I’m expecting a very, very tough game.
“John is passionate and that’s what makes him the winner that he is. It wasn’t just as a player, he’s carried that through into management and like I said, he’s got a lot of good traits.”
It’s been a somewhat tricky couple of weeks for Sheridan and Carlisle as they have struggled to pick up results at home and have therefore spiralled away from the play-offs.
Defeat to Yeovil Town last weekend meant Carlisle United suffered their fifth successive home league defeat for the first time since 2003, whilst they also haven’t scored in any of those home matches either.
Flynn stated: “They conceded right at the death against Yeovil Town as well, so they’ll be hurting. It’s going to be a tough game, long journey which is not ideal, but everybody has to go there.
“We have to make sure we’re up for the challenge and hopefully with a few more back, we’ll have a good go at them.”
Carlisle’s plight perfectly highlights just how competitive League Two actually is.
The Cumbrians were safely occupying a play-off spot in late September, but those home defeats have seen them plummet to 16th position ahead of welcoming County to Brunton Park on the weekend.
Flynn affirmed: “It’s a funny league. It’s a tougher league because I think there’s more teams close to each other, but that makes our start even better.
“I’m delighted with the start we’ve made, and it shows we’re a match for anybody.
“Of course it’s going to be tight. If you expected anything different then you haven’t been watching League Two for long enough.
“It’ll be tight all the way and that’s why I keep saying nothing is won in this part of the season. Teams will have blips and good runs so let’s just hope that our runs are better than the rest of them and our blips are less than the rest of them.
“There will be games that we win and didn’t deserve to but there will also be games that we won’t win but deserved to.
“It’ll even itself out over the course of the season and hopefully we’ll get that little bit of luck in our favour. We’ll have a good chance then.”
County will make the long trip up to Brunton Park on the back of two successive draws, grinding out a result at Bury FC before being left disappointed at Morecambe pegging them back last weekend.
Flynn continued: “Look, there’s nothing we can do about the Morecambe game, we can’t change the result because even though we knew we should have won, we didn’t and that’s the only thing that matters really.
“We didn’t win then unfortunately but we just have to try and win this Saturday instead.
“They are a great group, keep going and let’s not forget, we are Newport County AFC. We have no divine right whatsoever to just turn up and win a football match.
“If we make errors, get injuries, they all factor into why we don’t win games. Sometimes we get beaten by the better team and there’s nothing we can do about it.
“It was written in the stars that Kevin Ellison was going to score his first goal of the season against Newport. The frustrating thing is he didn’t have to do much to score it.
“Let’s not forget, we didn’t lose the football match. It’s frustrating of course it is, but like I’ve said before, we have no divine right whatsoever to go out and expect to beat teams like Morecambe, who fight for their lives in every fixture.
“They played some good stuff as well and there was a spell where they were the better team for 15 or 20 minutes in the first-half.”
In terms of team-news heading into a month where the Exiles will play a minimum of six matches in the three competitions, Flynn was able to provide an update on a couple of his walking wounded.
He confirmed: “A couple of them have a few more days to make it and there will be a couple of last-minute decisions.
“Crofty is still injured. He’s responding well with the loading on his achilles so providing he has no setbacks, he’s not too far away.
“I didn’t make one tactical substitution last weekend. The three that went off aren’t as bad as I feared but I’m not sure if this weekend will come too soon for them.
“It’s frustrating but it is what it is. November is a tough month and I could do without these injuries.”