This Saturday, we welcome Mickey Mellon’s Oldham Athletic to Rodney Parade. It will be the first time we’ve met The Latics since their relegation from the Football League two seasons ago, and we’ve taken a dip into the Newport County archives to revisit a memorable encounter with them at the end of the 2018/19 season.
It’s fair to describe the 2018/19 season as a bit of a rollercoaster. Following an exciting start, we sat third in the table in the middle of November, having only lost four of our opening eighteen games.
Unfortunately, our form took a massive nose-dive, with Michael Flynn’s team registering just one win in December and January. It was a long, cold winter, and those promotion hopes seemed like a distant memory. Despite picking up two wins in February, we found ourselves sitting in 15th place in the table.
After a 1-0 away defeat to Northampton in the middle of March, our luck totally flipped on its head in what was one of the most spectacular run of games we’ve seen at Newport County since our return to the Football League.
A 1-0 home win against Cheltenham Town sparked an unbeaten run of eight games ahead of our game with Oldham Athletic at Rodney Parade on April 30th, our penultimate matchday of the season.
We had clawed our way back into play-off contention, and a win against Oldham could see us jump from 11th to 7th.
Mark O’Brien, the club’s saviour just two seasons before in the great escape, rose to the occasion once again. After a cagey first half, a long ball into the box was headed down by Jamille Matt in the 48th minute, teeing up O’Brien to volley home and spark scenes of wild celebrations among the Newport faithful.
O’Brien would then seal the victory with another volley from the edge of the area in the 79th minute, moving us into the play-off spots with just one game to go.
A final-day draw with Morecambe would see us go into the play-offs unbeaten in ten games. Unfortunately, after getting past Mansfield in the semis, we would have our hearts broken by Tranmere at Wembley in the final minute of extra-time. As fate would have it, Tranmere’s manager that day was Micky Mellon, and Newport will be hoping to exact some revenge against him at Rodney Parade this weekend.