Newport County AFC will go top of the League Two table if they better Lincoln City’s result on Saturday and Great Escape hero Mark O’Brien is urging supporters to come out in numbers at Rodney Parade and help the team achieve that goal.
It’s been a frustrating start to the campaign for O’Brien individually, with the centre-back forced to miss the opening weeks of the season with an impact injury sustained to his leg in the pre-season victory at Hereford FC.
The Irishman has now fully recovered and helped the team set up this table topping opportunity by coming off the bench at Port Vale and Oldham Athletic to provide a shield in-front of the defence and protect those crucial league points.
O’Brien made his first start of the season at Swindon Town last night in the CheckaTrade Trophy, playing the full ninety minutes alongside Dan Butler and Scot Bennett at the heart of the defence.
That appearance at the County Ground has whetted the Irishman’s appetite for league starts and here, you can read what O’Brien exclusively told iFollow Exiles ahead of welcoming Yeovil Town to Rodney Parade on Saturday.
On attempting to become the outright leaders in League Two…
"It would of course be great to be sitting at the top of the table. It would be up there with everything that has happened so far in my career. I’ve been lucky enough to go through some very good things in my career, but this would be up there with everything else.
"It’s an added bonus for the team [if we could achieve that on Saturday.] We know as a team what we’re capable of, we know if we get the results that our performances deserve, then the league table will speak for itself.
"We’ve got a great bunch of lads in the changing room and everyone works hard for each other. We all get our heads down and we work hard for each other. We’ve kept to what we know, what we worked on throughout pre-season and as you can see, we’re starting to see the benefits of that now.
"Every game is like a cup final in this league and we need to keep the momentum from the last few weeks going. It’s just onwards and upwards for us and it would be a massive boost for this group if we could get to the top of the league table come Saturday."
On the challenge of facing a Yeovil Town side unbeaten since the opening day of the campaign…
"Yeovil have started the season very well. We’ll continue to take a look at them as the week goes on, do our homework on them and by the end of the week I’m sure we’ll be well prepared on what they are going to throw at us.
"It’s then down to us to capitalise on that when we cross the white line and hopefully we can get the three points.
"Yeovil are a very tough side defensively so that’s what we’re striving for on Saturday [the fans pushing us towards an early goal.] We’re a tough team to score against as well, we’re very resilient and we defend very well.
"But as well as that, we have some great lads going forward so we know what we’re capable of. We know if we keep the door shut one end then we’ll get some chances at the other end.
"It’s down to us to take those opportunities when they arrive, and I do believe we have the quality to do that."
On trying to preserve League Two’s only 100% home record…
"Even last season and the Great Escape before that, we’ve always prided ourselves on making Rodney Parade like a fortress in league matches. That goes from the home fans that turn out and create an atmosphere that not many opposition players enjoy playing in.
"We know what we’re capable of at home and we want to keep that going when Yeovil Town come to visit on Saturday. We know if we get our heads down and work well as a group then there’s not too much that can stop us.
"You can see it every single week, we are getting the results that our performances deserve, it’s another game on Saturday against an in-form Yeovil team and hopefully another win."
On how important a large crowd would be to the team…
"The fans are always amazing. They’ll always travel to watch the team away from home as well, but they do turn out in their numbers for the home matches.
"They are always crucial to any success for this team, they’ll hopefully turn out in their numbers against Yeovil on Saturday and we’ll give them something else to cheer about.
"Whether we’re top of the table, mid-table, bottom of the table, I know that the fans will always turn out for the team.
"They give their voice to help the team and they are definitely like the 12th man for us. We’re grateful for that and when the crowd does get behind us like they have done in the past, there won’t be many teams that stop us."
On once again trying to be the player who gets the goal on the big occasion…
"To be honest, if I can still live off that one goal which I’ve scored in my career then I’d be quite happy.
"But don’t get me wrong, I’d love to score goals, be on the scoresheet, but as well as that my job for this team is mainly to try to keep goals out.
"If I can add to the goal tally by scoring from set-pieces, then I would be more than happy to do that. If I did score the winner on the weekend to potentially send us top of the table, I don’t think it would be as mad as before.
"To be honest, it would probably be the exact same celebration because I definitely haven’t got any celebrations lined-up.
"It took me 10 years to score that one goal so if I got another, it would just be whatever the moment is and see where it takes me."
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