Manager Michael Flynn says he wasn’t surprised Newport County AFC did things the hard way after they secured a play-off spot following a dramatic final-day clash.
The Exiles made the trip to Southend United needing to secure a point against an already-relegated Shrimpers to seal a place in the top-seven.
But it was far from easy for County after they went behind early on when Shaun Hobson put the home side in front in Essex.
The Shrimpers had a glorious chance to double their advantage through Greg Halford, who failed to hit the target from four yards with the goal gaping, before Mickey Demetriou levelled in the second half.
Tom King then came to the away side’s rescue as he made a strong save to deny Matt Rush from the penalty spot.
County held out for a share of the spoils and Flynn says he wasn’t expecting it to be a routine afternoon for his side.
“I’m sure I’m meant to pass out on the touchline,” joked the Exiles boss.
“We never do it easy and there is always that little bit of drama, but I am just glad we are there. The players deserve all the accolades. They have been outstanding from day one and should be proud of themselves.
“It’s a massive achievement for us as a club and the players deserve the credit.”
Hobson’s strike was the first goal County had shipped in five games after they chalked up successive shutouts against Crawley Town, Exeter City, Scunthorpe United and Cheltenham Town.
And, despite Southend's relegation to the National League being confirmed last weekend, Flynn's side were made to work hard for a share of the spoils
“We conceded a poor goal and let’s be honest, we scored a poor goal even though it was a great header from Mickey,” said Flynn.
“The penalty was never a penalty. Liam Shephard got pulled and it hit his hand – I don’t know what he was supposed to do.
“You just thought that everything was going against us. We weren’t very good today, we played a lot of good football up to the final third but didn’t penetrate too much.
“We played some really good football without creating much. It’s been our Achilles heel but we are in the play-offs and it’s a massive achievement.”
The Exiles will take on Forest Green Rovers in the play-off semi-final after they secured sixth with a 3-0 victory over Oldham Athletic.
County earned a 1-1 draw against the Rovers at the New Lawn in December before falling to a 2-0 defeat at Rodney Parade in the reverse fixture in February.
Fourth-placed Morecambe will take on Tranmere Rovers, who claimed the final play-off spot, in the other semi-final.
But Flynn says he isn't fazed by the side who the Exiles will take on.
“I’m not going to say I’m happy or be disrespectful to other football clubs,” said Flynn.
“Whoever we play, that’s who we’ve got and we’ve got to beat what’s in front of us, but I had no preference.
“Morecambe have been unbelievable this season and Derek Adams has done a great job.
“Tranmere can beat anybody with the squad they’ve got and Forest Green are the same. It is what it is so may the best team win.”