Kevin Ellison pre-Morecambe

Kevin Ellison admits there will be added motivation for Newport County AFC in their play-off final against Morecambe - sealing promotion to the third tier for Mark O’Brien.

O’Brien was forced to call time on his playing career at the age of 27 last year before undergoing heart surgery in June.

The former Exiles skipper, whose last-gasp goal saved the club from relegation to the National League in 2017, has remained at County as part of Michael Flynn’s backroom staff this season. 

Ellison enjoyed plenty of battles up against O’Brien - and proved to be a constant menace - during his days with Morecambe and was quick to send him a message of support after discovering his early retirement.

But Ellison has been a part of the same dressing room as the defender this season after joining County in the summer as a free agent.

And the winger says O’Brien, who captained the Exiles when they reached the play-off final against Tranmere Rovers two years ago, will be among his thoughts as he looks to topple his former side in Monday’s clash at Wembley.

"I played against OB in the past but you have to put football aside," said Ellison.

"You know what type of character he is and it’s a shame how his career ended. That’s another motivation for me and for the lads in the dressing room because we want to do it for OB.

"He’s still a big part of this football club and you only have to look at the goal he scored to save them, so that’s another motivation for me personally because of what’s happened to him."

Ellison gave nine years of service to Morecambe and made more than 350 appearances before being released by the club in the summer window.

But the 42-year-old returned to haunt his former side after netting against the Shrimps in County's 3-1 win at the Mazuma Stadium in March.

Ellison, who helped County book their place at Wembley after scoring in the play-off semi-final second leg against Forest Green Rovers, has been at the centre of attention in the lead up to Monday's final.

And he says he's happy to take the pressure off his team-mates.

"Hopefully the limelight on me takes a bit of pressure off the lads in the dressing room and that’s why I’ve said certain things.

"I’m happy to take all the pressure on my back and hopefully the lads won’t fear as much so we can go on and get the win on Monday. 

"This game is about Newport County against Morecambe, it’s not about Kevin Ellison going up against their manager.

"I’m doing my utmost to make an impact for Newport and hopefully it can be a happy ending."

County's win at the Mazuma Stadium saw them complete a league double over Derek Adams' side, but the Shrimps finished a place above County in the table and secured their place in the final after a 3-2 aggregate win over Tranmere Rovers.

"They’ve been unbelievable and probably a team that you wouldn’t have put up there at the start of the season," said Ellison.

"But credit to them because they’re a tough team and we won’t be taken them lightly. We’ve beaten them a couple of times over the course of the season but football is a funny old game.

"They’ve got some really good players so we’ll be taking nothing for granted and rolling our sleeves up to get the win."