Mike Flynn has admitted tomorrow could be the turning point as to whether or not Newport County AFC reach the League Two play-offs come the end of the season.
The Exiles face crunch time with six fixtures left to play, currently trailing the top-seven by five points with a game in hand on most of the clubs currently above them in the table.
A win tomorrow could put them two points behind and leave destiny in their hands, whereas a defeat could see the gap rise to eight points with just 15 left to fight for.
Flynn affirmed: “I always try and be honest and realistic, this is a game where if we lose and the gap gets to seven or eight points with five games to go then that’ll be really difficult.
“It wouldn’t be over, I’ll certainly never give up, but it would be difficult.
“If we lose and everyone else loses, there’s no great change apart from one less game. I know I’m stating the obvious, but it does all depend on what else happens as well.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on ourselves, focus on getting the three points tomorrow and see where it takes us.
“I want us to finish as well as we can, regardless of whether the play-offs are there or not.”
He continued: “I think it was over by this point last year near enough.
“If it all goes our way tomorrow, then it’ll be two points behind with a game in hand.
“It is a crazy league. In the middle part of the season, our away form wasn’t good enough and you look at it now, those games where we should have picked up points, they would have been so crucial for us.
“That’ll be my frustration at the end of the season if we miss out by one or two points, that would be hard to take.”
Alongside the battle for the play-offs, the battle for League Two survival is also hotting up after Macclesfield Town’s surprise victory over Exeter City in midweek.
The crucial three points for the Silkmen lifted them out of the drop zone for the first time since the second matchday of the campaign.
That plunged Notts County and Yeovil Town into difficulty in the relegation zone but the Glovers host Crawley Town tomorrow and could drag them into the mire, while Cambridge United, Morecambe and Port Vale could all still be dragged into it.
That adds an extra dimension to County’s game tomorrow, with Cambridge seemingly safe but one more result would make everything secure.
“There’s a couple of teams who probably need one more win,” Flynn added.
“Morecambe have got Grimsby so if Morecambe win on Saturday, I think they’d be safe. If they do that, it would be another fantastic job Jim Bentley and Ken McKenna have done because it’s tough there.
“Cambridge will be thinking the same, if they get another win, they’re near enough there.
“I’m glad we’re not worried about anything like that.”
County can head to The Abbey Stadium with confidence having defeated the U’s in each of the last five meetings, including scoring four in both matches previously this season.
Before that County’s record wasn’t great against a fellow ‘Amber Army’ having shared the results of the Conference and struggled before this recent resurgence of results.
And Flynn is refusing to buy anything into previous results.
“I’ll take a 1-0 right now,” he admitted.
“They’ve picked up under Colin Calderwood so it’s going to be a tough game. They’ve got some really good players and a few that we’ll need to watch out for.
“Look, we need to go in there thinking and knowing that we need to be at our best to get the three points.
“It doesn’t mean anything that we’ve beaten them already, we’ve just got to go there and do the business.”
County should have a couple of absentees for the trip, but Flynn will leave it until the very last minute to make a decision on anyone.
Nick Townsend has missed the last three games with a bicep injury, while Joss Labadie and Jamille Matt were both forced off during Tuesday night’s draw with Swindon Town.
Flynn confirmed: “We might be missing one or two this weekend, but the rest are ready to go. It’s good that we’ve got Scot Bennett back as well.
“Scot has been really good for us and we probably could have risked him on Tuesday. We felt that with three weeks to go, it was more beneficial just to get that extra bit of training into him and not rush it.
“He’s all right, he’s raring to go.
“It’s good now that we’ve got a few coming back meaning nearly everyone is available.
“We haven’t had that for a long part of the season, and it’s affected us. It’s damaged us – especially away from home – you need that experience.
“We’ve had a look at what we think is the best way to go tomorrow and everyone will know what we’ve decided at 2pm when the team sheets come out.”