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Graham Coughlan | "We’ve got to keep it positive and we’ve got to finish strong..."

8 March 2024

Club News

Graham Coughlan | "We’ve got to keep it positive and we’ve got to finish strong..."

8 March 2024

Manager Graham Coughlan has challenged his Newport County side to finish the season strongly as they head to Stockport County tomorrow afternoon (3pm).

The Exiles make the trip to Manchester to face another promotion-chasing side in the division, as they look to return to winning ways in Sky Bet League Two following last week's defeat to Mansfield Town. 

After three defeats in their last seven league outings, County have gained a lot of momentum since the turn of the new year.

With key victories against play-off contenders Gillingham, Harrogate and Walsall in recent weeks, the Exiles now sit in 12th place with 11 games to play and only five points from play-offs themselves.

And Coughlan says he is challenging his players for a strong push as the season draws to a conclusion. 

“It was a good showing last week but not fluent,” Coughlan said on last weekend’s result. 

“I don't think it was pleasing on the eye for either team. Mansfield came here with a game plan and they executed it well.

"The game was stifled as both teams cancelled each other out, so the fact that we can compete, we can go head-to-head, and the fact that the league leaders came here with a slight worry about us shows how far we’ve come.

“By no means do I feel last week was a classic or fast-flowing football because it was far from that, but it was a really good competitive game. All in all, we stood up and more than matched one of the top sides in the division, something that we will have to do again tomorrow. 

“You go on a bit of run with this football club and then you see the fixture schedule. Notts County, MK Dons, Mansfield and Stockport all in a block of six. It is what it is but we beat Stockport here and they are up there for a reason. 

“We’re up against another club tomorrow who want to get out of the division. It’s a really good game to look forward to and it will bring a hostile atmosphere. 

“It’s a chance for our players to go there and put down a marker. Show they can compete at this level - the top level of League Two - and show that they are worthy. 

“It won’t be easy by no means. Yes, we understand they have a bigger and far more in-depth squad than us, but what we do well is make the most of what we have. 

“We’re just looking forward to it now. I don’t think our away performance has been as good as last year so I want to finish the season strong away from home, starting with tomorrow."

He added: “The season has been frustrating so far with the adversity we have had to face from all angles. 

“But all in all, if the season was on an even keel and we had what we have available to us on a regular basis, I don't think we would be sitting where we sit in the division. I think we would be higher.

"The [way we have coped with the] circumstances and the adversity we have had to face and challenges we have had to get over this season is a huge testament to the football club and the group of players we have. That’s a massive, massive positive for us and the season so far has been positive.

“My message to the players is we’ve got to keep it positive and we’ve got to finish it strong. The lads drive each other every week and they don’t need me to tell them.”

The Exiles have been hit by several injuries since the turn of the new year, with captain Ryan Delaney recently confirmed to be out for the remainder of the season.

James Clarke and Shane McLoughlin have also both been sidelined in recent times and the Newport boss provided an update on his defensive duo. 

"I don't think Clarkey will have any chance of getting back out on the field this season,” he confirmed. “I think he falls into the category of those where their season is done. 

"Shane's season looks as if it's pretty much close to finishing too. If we get him back a week or two before the end that will be a bonus."

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