Michael Flynn heaped praise on his entire Newport County AFC squad after a heavily depleted Exiles team battled to a brave 0-0 draw at Walsall FC.
Mickey Demetriou (leg), Scot Bennett (quad) and Matty Dolan (hamstring) were already missing before kick-off, Joss Labadie came off at half time with a tweak to his hamstring, while several other squad members were carrying niggles throughout the contest.
In spite of the injury absentees, the Exiles performed heroically when ensuring their first ever visit to Banks’s Stadium ended with a point, several players playing out of position while fighting through the pain barrier.
Jamille Matt was County’s greatest outlet throughout the contest, an eye of the needle pass from Josh Sheehan saw Matt thwarted by a good save from home goalkeeper Liam Roberts and he also came close with a header in the second half.
Such was the bravery and tenacity of the display; Flynn says he was more pleased with the performance at Banks’s Stadium than the victory against early pacesetters Plymouth Argyle on Saturday at Rodney Parade.
Flynn affirmed: “I’m more pleased with this point than I was with Saturday’s win against Plymouth. I know it sounds stupid but I’ve got so many players missing, Joss Labadie had to come off at half time as he couldn’t sprint after the first five minutes.
“Robbie Willmott was struggling, I’ve just got too many injuries.
“The way the boys dug in, the work rate they put in was second to none. It’s everything I want from a player and we limited Walsall to very few chances.”
Speaking more on the players to miss the trip, Flynn added: “Dolan and Bennett aren’t too far away but there’s still that precaution where I can’t rush them and risk them being out for another six weeks. We’ll keep assessing them up until Saturday.
“Mickey has had an operation. He broke one of the bones in his fibula and it’s a timeframe of between 10-14 weeks. I’m not a physio, I won’t say how long it will take, Mickey will be back when he’s back.
“It’s a massive setback because he’s someone who played every game in the past two years. It’s a huge setback.”
The point maintained County’s unbeaten start to the 2019/20 campaign and extended their unbeaten run in regular season Football League matches to 14 – continuing the club record set on Saturday.
Flynn continued: “I am very proud. It’s a massive achievement and I really thought they dug in – I’m so proud of how they kept going, they didn’t hide or shirk responsibility.
“I think Walsall were slightly better first half with the switch, but I had two out there who couldn’t sprint.
“We said that we want to turn the away losses into draws and the draws into wins. It’s not a bad away start [in the league] – we’ve played two and haven’t conceded a goal at two tough places.
“Walsall will give a lot of team’s problems.”
ON PARADE | The Exiles return to home league action next Saturday when they host Crewe Alexandra at Rodney Parade. Buy tickets now.
CARABAO CUP | County have been drawn at home to Premier League opposition West Ham United on 27th August – a match live on SKY Sports. Read the following press release regarding how to buy tickets for this fixture.