Newport County AFC manager Michael Flynn says his squad are exactly where he wants them to be as they continued their pre-season preparations with an encouraging 1-0 victory over Shrewsbury Town at Ludlow Stadium.
Last season’s top scorers Padraig Amond and Jamille Matt picked up where they left off by combining for the matchwinner on the hour when Matt’s calm finish was enough to pick up a win against League One opposition.
Flynn admitted to iFollowExiles on Day Two of pre-season training that results didn’t necessarily matter if the Exiles were able to progress and learn what Flynn wanted implemented before the League Two curtain raiser against Mansfield Town on August 3rd.
And Flynn confirmed this performance was the perfect blend of performance and result.
He affirmed: “I don’t read too much into friendlies in terms of the results because I’d be happy to lose 3-1 for example if we’re doing the right things and learning what we want to put into practise.
“But when you’re winning games, keeping clean sheets and playing some really good football on a tough pitch means I was really pleased.
“And let’s give the boys a little more credit as well because we’re a couple of weeks behind [pre-season preparations] than what Shrewsbury are.
“I thought it was a very worthwhile exercise and it was good food for thought for me.”
After last week’s draw with Egyptian champions Al Ahly out in Spain, this was the first real opportunity for Exiles supporters to see the team on the field.
Seven of the eight summer recruits played some part, only former Shrewsbury defender Ryan Haynes missed out, while there was game time for four players from Jorden Gibson’s academy set-up – namely Ryan Hillier, Sioni Benham, Dom Jeffries and Elis Watts.
And Flynn confirmed there would be more squad rotation on Friday night against Bath City so that everyone will be fit and raring to go ahead of the start of a new campaign.
Flynn explained: “We gave the boys an extra week off because of the play-offs. They’ve all come back in really good shape, had a good four days in Spain where they worked in really hot temperatures and worked their socks off.
“This is only our second game; we step it up again Friday where more players will get more minutes than others.
“It’s all about getting them all chomping at the bit for the first game of the season because the result part in pre-season doesn’t matter.
“Yes, you want to get into a winning habit, but I couldn’t care if we lost every pre-season match but won the opening game of the season. That’s what I’m more concerned about.”
Everyone impressed against Shrewsbury Town but Flynn was happy to single out Corey Whitely for individual praise after he caused numerous problems out wide and when deployed as a number 10.
Flynn added: “I thought Corey was the best player on the pitch, him and Josh Sheehan. You couldn’t get the ball off them.
“Corey has stacks of ability; we’ve just got to get the other side of the game into him now and try to get him on the ball higher up the pitch because he’s going to cause murder.
“He’s quick, he’s strong, got a good touch, good finisher. He’s got all the attributes, it’s more about getting the timing of his runs now.”
Goalkeeper Tom King and Bristol City loanee George Nurse were the only players to play the full game with several changes at half-time and on the hour mark.
Following Joe Day’s departure to Cardiff City, King will do battle with Nick Townsend for the number one jersey next season and he looked sharp at Ludlow Stadium.
Flynn confirmed Townsend isn’t too far aware from making a full return to match action and he says he’s looking forward to the battle between his two goalkeepers.
“Nick Townsend is looking really good to be fair,” he commented.
“Nick and Tom are different goalkeepers. Tom has the height, the frame, while Nick is an outstanding shot stopper.
“They’re going to push each other all the way and they’ve already been doing that in training. Hopefully, it brings the best out of them.
“I think it’s going to be a really good battle.”