Mike Flynn has warned his Newport County AFC players that they can expect to take nothing from the trip to Crawley Town on Saturday unless they put in a resilient and determined performance in West Sussex.
The Red Devils have undergone a substantial change in their managerial staff already this season, with 43-year old unknown entity Gabriele Cioffi replacing Harry Kewell when the former Liverpool midfielder moved on to Notts County.
Since the Italian took charge of the club on his 43rd birthday last month, Crawley have won every single home fixture in League Two.
And Flynn believes his squad will have to put in a near perfect performance if they want to be the first team in League Two to take anything from Broadfield Stadium since Cioffi’s appointment.
He affirmed: “No it wouldn’t have helped [losing Harry Kewell] but I have to say, the new manager has come in and got some good results straightaway.
“That would have helped things and I’m sure he’ll be disappointed with the sending off they had on the weekend. Crawley could beat anybody on their day, they proved that when they went to Lincoln, so it’s going to be a tough away game. We’ll see what 5pm Saturday brings us.
“It’s a game that we’ll be going there trying to get three points.”
Some early team-news ahead of the trip to West Sussex sees captain Andrew Crofts again unavailable through injury.
And while Flynn confirmed his midfielder was nearing a return to first-team action, he had nothing but praise for Mickey Demetriou when standing in as captain.
He continued: “Crofty is not yet back to full fitness but he’s working hard. He’s big around the place as well [in terms of his demeanour] because he’s so professional giving the boys advice and he has a big part to play for us when back fit.
“But I won’t rush him back for the sake of a week or two.
“The boys usually hammer his team talks but I have to say, Mickey Demetriou was absolutely immense on Saturday. He marshalled the defence, his pass set Antoine up for the winner and I thought that was one of his better games.
“It’s good to see because on his day, Mickey is a very, very good defender.”
Further team-news specifically from last weekend sees Flynn able to deliver positive news on the injuries sustained by Robbie Willmott and Tyreeq Bakinson.
On Willmott: “Robbie’s really sore. It’s bad bruising but the good thing is that it’s not a break. Yes, [its weeks rather than months.]
On Bakinson: “Tyreeq’s still got a dead leg so he’ll be struggling as well. We’re a bit light on numbers for Saturday.
“You do [need no injuries] with small squads. You need the luck with not having any injuries and I think one of the key attributes to Accrington’s promotion last season was that they were able to play the same team for over 30 games.
“That’s a great momentum to have, players could get injured in any way even away from football, and it’s something we’re going to need for the rest of the season.”
Flynn added: “I really don’t know [if anyone else can return.] We’ll know more Friday afternoon.
“I’m hoping the physio earns his money this week by getting a few more out to be involved. But again, people like Keanu Marsh-Brown who might be back, he’ll still ideally need a week of solid training and things like that.
“He won’t be at his sharpest but it’s something you have to deal with and get on with.”
County head into the Crawley Town game on the back of the best type of momentum – a stoppage time winner last time out against Stevenage at Rodney Parade.
Reflecting on the game, Flynn commented: “I thought we did deserve to win the game on Saturday. I thought Stevenage had a 15-minute spell towards the end of the first-half where they were slightly on top.
“Then in the second-half, I thought we were excellent. We created a lot of chances, played some really good stuff and pinned them in.
“Stevenage could only create one or two slight half-chances in the second-half and that’s credit to the players because they were excellent.”
Former assistant manager Dino Maamria made his second trip back to South Wales since taking the job at the helm of the Hertfordshire club.
Commenting further on what his opposite manager said on the County performance specifically, Flynn added: “Dino thought we were good. I’ve got a lot of time for Dino and he’s doing a good job there.
“I had a little grin on my face, not a sarcastic one, when he was walking upstairs to meet me because I told him that I could imagine what he said to his players.
“I knew how he would be feeling and how he would have reacted to such a late goal because it doesn’t matter who you are, when you concede that late you’re always disappointed.”
The victory against a side who were occupying 5th position when they came to Rodney Parade proved once again what a positive start to the season it has been for the Exiles.
Flynn affirmed: “It’s massive progress. It’s the best start we’ve had for as long as I can remember. I think we’re going as far back as the 1930s but I’m not sure.
“It shows that it’s going well at the moment, but we also want the best finish we’ve ever had in a season as well over the final 12 or 13 games – things really would be interesting then if we picked up a few points in between.
“Nothing is won in October or anywhere this side of the year. There’s a lot of hard work to do and we’ve just got to make sure we do it.”
Flynn also made a point of commending the Rodney Parade support for sticking with the team throughout the game and helping them get that dramatic winner.
He stated: “It’s cliché but the importance of the fans means they really are the 12th man at Rodney Parade.
“It’s crucial that we have a big crowd and it’s important that they cheer us on because it means a lot to the players and nobody fancies coming here when its hostile.
“We rely on our crowd to give us that extra piece of boost that we need. The people who were there on Saturday, even after the game, cheering on the players and wanting things signed by the players.
“I thought the noise they made was excellent.”