MIKE FLYNN: Rovers clash is one we've all been waiting for
10:47am Saturday 17th August 2013 in Sport
TODAY is a day that all the County fans will have been looking forward to since the fixtures game out in the summer – our derby clash with Bristol Rovers.
It’s a game that all the players are looking forward to as well because there’s nothing better than playing in a high-profile match in front of a big crowd.
I’m told that there should be around 6,000 fans at Rodney Parade today and I can’t wait for the action to get under way.
It should be an amazing atmosphere, as it always is at our home ground, and hopefully we can repeat the performance of two weeks ago when we rose to the occasion and demolished Accrington Stanley.
Last week’s match at Northampton was a frustrating one for us because we felt we should have got something from the game.
We dominated them early on and should have been 2-0 up but somehow we ended up 2-0 down and we were chasing the game.
I watched it from the bench and I think we can take a lot of positives from the way we played but the lesson is that we have to take our chances at this level or we’ll get punished by the better sides and Northampton are certainly one of the top sides in League Two.
I’ve played with Matt Duke at Bradford and he is a top quality goalkeeper. He’s played in the Premier League with Hull and he was fantastic against us.
That is the kind of quality that we’re coming up against now we’re in the Football League.
But hopefully we can bounce back today because Rovers have had a stuttering start and are missing a lot of players due to injuries.
Mind you, the injuries are stacking up for us as well with Byron Anthony obviously out for a long time, Aaron O’Connor recovering from a groin problem, Tony James still out with a hamstring strain and now Ismail Yakubu struggling with a calf strain.
I’m hoping that I’ll be fit to make my first appearance of the season today, either from the bench or in the starting XI.
I played 90 minutes in the behind-closed-doors friendly against Cardiff City in the week and that was good for me because it was a very string side that they put out.
We got beaten 4-0 but it was a good workout for all of us. We certainly did a lot of chasing against the likes of Craig Noone and Joe Mason!
And it was great to see Lenny Pidgeley back in action between the sticks for us. He was back to his old self afterwards, talking about all the amazing saves he made ¬– even though he let in four goals!
It was like he’d never been away and, even though Jamie Stephens has done a great job for us, it will be good to have him back.
I’ve had a bit of a stiff back since the game and I missed training on Thursday to work on that in the pool and with a chiropractor.
Fingers crossed I’ll be fit to play because, as I said, this is one that nobody wants to miss.
Rovers will have a familiar face in their ranks with Newport lad Ellis Harrison impressing everyone this year with the form he’s shown.
I’ve known Ellis for years and I know his family as well and he’s a good lad. He’s got pace and he’s a real handful for defences.
It’s great to see a local lad doing so well, although we don’t want him catching the eye today!
David Pipe knows him too so I’m sure that will be a good battle and I’ll back Pipey to keep Ellis quiet today.
It will be great to see another Newport boy at today’s match as well with Byron Anthony coming to watch his first game since his horrible broken leg at Brighton.
Byron is a great character and very popular in the dressing room so we’ll all be glad to see him before the match.
He’s a good mate and I’ve spoken to him quite a lot since it happened. He is a very positive person and he’s looking forward to coming back as quickly as he can. Hopefully we won’t miss him too much while he’s out.