Mike Flynn says he hopes Tuesday night’s victory at Notts County will be ‘the first of many’ after the Exiles put in a tremendous away performance to secure a 4-1 victory at Meadow Lane.
The Exiles were dominant from the first whistle to the last, controlling the ascendency throughout, and got a crucial first three points on the road since 22nd September to revitalise their push for the League Two play-offs.
It only took nine minutes for the deadlock to be broken in Nottinghamshire, Robbie Willmott capitalised on an error from former Exile Mitch Rose and when his cross wasn’t dealt with, Fraser Franks swooped in to fire into the middle of the goal for his third of the campaign.
Even at that point, County were well in command – Jamille Matt and Dan Butler had already gone close with speculative attempts, so it was some surprise when Notts County equalised 59 seconds later as Joe Day could only parry Jim O’Brien’s attempt into Kane Hemmings’ path and he looped a header over the Exiles shot stopper.
There was nothing going to stop the Exiles getting their three points, however, and they started to take real control from that point forward and had a healthy lead at half-time thanks to Jamille Matt’s divine double.
It was a really well executed goal by County to re-take the lead on 15 minutes, Mickey Demetriou played the short throw into Robbie Willmott, he crossed for Padraig Amond to head back across goal and Matt didn’t need a second invitation to power back across goal for a superb team goal.
Just as that looked to be the pinnacle goal of the night from a super County performance, Matt put forward his contender for goal of the season on 33 minutes.
Arguably frustrated by seeing Amond leading that competition on his own – just see the goals at Cambridge United away (Carabao Cup), Forest Green Rovers away (League Two) and Middlesbrough home (Emirates FA Cup) – Matt thought he’d like to join the party and beautifully pulled off an overhead kick after a goalmouth scramble for 3-1.
After the restart, County again came out of the traps with great intent and put the game to bed with the fourth just 91 seconds into the second-half.
Matt this time turned provider, calmly controlling Dan Butler’s splitting pass, turning his man back inside before a beautiful delivery into the area gave Amond the simplest of tasks to bring up 20 goals for the campaign.
There was still time for Joss Labadie to cannon a thunderous attempt back off the post – but a superb team performance to that point had already secured the Exiles all three points and Flynn couldn’t hide his pride at the full-time whistle.
“They were superb,” he affirmed.
“If Joss Labadie’s shot goes in as well then it’s a perfect away performance. The way we defended, the way we kept our composure after they scored straight after we did was superb.
“The goals we scored were superb, Jamille Matt’s cross for Podge’s goal was typical, unbelievable wing play and I’m very proud of them. Excellent performance.”
A commanding performance in Nottinghamshire did arrest some difficult months on the road for the Exiles, with this the first victory in eleven away matches in League Two.
Flynn continued: “Listen, you always like bringing up negative statistics but we’ve played well on the road. Okay, we haven’t got the results we perhaps deserved but in the seven we lost, we should have got something out of five of them.
“It’s frustrating – sometimes we started bad and gave the opposition a foothold in the game. Or we’ve finished bad.
“All the ingredients were there in different games – good start, bad finish; bad start, good finish. But this was excellent from start to finish and that is what is needed away from home.”
With two goals and an assist, Jamille Matt obviously dominated the voting for man of the match on Twitter, but this was a perfect away performance where you couldn’t feel aggrieved if any player won the award.
And Flynn was more than happy to go through the whole team and the substitutes to dish out praise for their emphatic performance.
“I thought Jamille Matt was unplayable,” he stated.
“He bullied their defenders, Podge’s movement, Harry McKirdy when he came on didn’t give them a breath. Joss Labadie, Scot Bennett and Robbie Willmott were unbelievable in midfield, especially as two of them had bookings early on.
“And you look at the defence, you could go right through the team, Joe Day has made a great save at 4-1 with ten minutes to go and if that goes in then they may have had a bit of a flourish finish.
“Fraser, Mickey, O’B, Regan and Dan Butler, they were all solid. Like I said, everyone single one of them, Matty Dolan too when he came on, did well so it was a great performance.”
On Jamma and Podge specifically: “It says they’re a good partnership and we’re lucky to have them.
“We’ve clawed a little bit back on the goal difference as well and it’s important now to back this result up.
“We need back to back wins, we need to go on a bit of a run, and if we play like that then we can do it. If we switch off, it’ll be back to the drawing board.”
Before the game, Flynn resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes after the team exerted so much energy against Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday and only made the one alteration.
Fraser Franks was the man to come back in – certainly making the immediate impact after nine minutes – and he replaced Tyreeq Bakinson as County switched to a 4-3-3 formation with Robbie Willmott in a more advanced position.
Flynn explained “Top players at the top level find that consistency and that drive, motivation to go again.
“Now, in Man City we’ve gone against the top team in the country and now to the bottom. Notts County maybe thought they had us on a good time to play us but they didn’t.
“I guarantee you that Man City go to Schalke [tonight] and do a professional job.
“It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, if you want to be at the top of that level you have to put a succession of professional performances together and hopefully that’s the first of a few now.”
NEXT UP | It’s a first ever trip to Buckinghamshire and Stadium MK as the Exiles face automatic promotion contenders MK Dons on Saturday. Follow the club’s social media platforms for ticket details.
ON PARADE | County return home to South Wales on 2nd March 2019 for the visit of another play-off contender in Carlisle United. Buy tickets here and pack the Parade.
AFTER THAT | It’s the long trip to Essex for yet another clash with a top-seven side as County take on Colchester United on 9th March 2019. Ticket details to be released soon.