Mike Flynn says Newport County AFC have to put a run of victories together until the end of the season to try and secure their best league finish since returning to League Two.
The Exiles finished ninth after amassing 65 points in 2014/15 and they almost surpassed that figure last season but a defeat then a draw in the final two fixtures saw them conclude the season a point off their best tally.
As it stands, County are two places and three points worse off than at the equivalent stage last season when they defeated Yeovil Town 2-0 at Huish Park on 10th March 2018.
With ten games still left to play, County welcome Cheltenham Town to Rodney Parade on Friday night looking to surpass the 50-point barrier and they’ll be encouraged by the Robins poor away form.
Cheltenham have lost their last five on the road in League Two and haven’t tasted success away from Gloucestershire since New Year’s Day – when they also won down at Yeovil.
The home form of the Robins has been in stark contrast to that and they’ve only lost once in 12 in-front of their own supporters – meaning Flynn expects a difficult evening in South Wales.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” he affirmed.
“They’ve improved, got good players, they’re hardworking and it’s whoever takes their chances.
“Cheltenham are on a decent run. If we would have had their form from when we played them [in November] then we’d have been fourth in the table.
“It’s a bit frustrating but it is what it is.”
Flynn will be hoping home comforts suit the Exiles tomorrow after another difficult week out on the road in League Two.
The Exiles have picked up 34 of their 49 points so far this season at Rodney Parade and have only lost three league matches in South Wales in 2018/19.
Flynn remarked: “We have been strong at home but unfortunately, you don’t play all your games at home. The away form hasn’t been good enough. You don’t need me to say that because it’s there for everyone to see.
“With the Colchester game I have no complaints because we were outplayed, we were nowhere near and they were very good. But we needed to be picking up a point at least on Tuesday because they are the ones that drag you through and keep you ticking over.
“It’s nothing psychological [going away from home.] We just switch off and we have done that at home sometimes this season.
“You look at the Cambridge game where we won 4-2, they still took the lead. We went through a period of giving teams an advantage and that was home and away.
“It’s not psychological, more a lack of application shall we say.”
Flynn continued: “I’ve said we’ve got to put a run together where we get back-to-back wins and then we have to start nicking a few points away from home as well.
“I’ve gone through it all, done the stats, and in the 12 games we’ve lost away from home, we’ve conceded 30 and scored nine.
“It’s not good enough – we all know we should have got at least six points out of those 12 games as well. That would have changed everything and is probably the difference between the play-offs and teams in midtable.
“It’s something we need to address. Without going over old ground, injuries haven’t helped all season, it’s been disruptive and it’s something I’ll have to look at and improve.”
It has been a tough time of late on the road for the side and that wasn’t helped by Joe Powell sending a thunderbolt into the top corner with 90 seconds remaining to give Northampton Town victory on Tuesday night.
Flynn continued: “I thought the performance was a lot better on Tuesday night, but the result was really difficult to take.
“When you look at it, 0-0 would have been a fair result because we didn’t test the goalkeeper enough – or at all.
“We just switched off once and it’s just our luck that he puts it straight into the top corner. Those shots go either 20 yards over the crossbar or into the top corner and with us, too often, it goes into the top corner.
“It was a great strike and if you are going to lose a game then you’d rather lose it to that than a tap in with no-one marking.
“It is misleading [no shot on target.] We missed two from three yards so it’s just one of those things. We’ve just got to bat on, keep working hard and turn it around.”
No further injuries were sustained during County’s trip to Northamptonshire in midweek, but Flynn admitted he will still be without the services of several key figures tomorrow.
“Still players missing,” he confirmed.
“Ben Kennedy has been injured but hopefully he’ll be training today and will be back in contention. He’s had a bruise right under the joint in his toe and he couldn’t put any weight on it.
“He’s had a scan, it’s nothing bad so hopefully it’ll settle down and he’s ready to be selected.
“Andrew Crofts is still out. It’s been frustrating because Crofty is what we’ve been missing, that experience in the middle of the park.
“You look at it, we missed Joss Labadie until he got up and ready, Matty Dolan has been the same so with Crofty as well, you’ve got three there that are the big ones in the centre of midfield.
“It’s frustrating for me and them, none of them want to be injured. It’s football.”