NEWPORT County AFC striker Aaron O’Connor finally had his moment in the sun on Saturday as he put a season of frustration behind him, writes Andrew Penman.
The 30-year-old striker has missed almost a full year of competitive football due to a nightmare groin injury but he scored on his first start of the season – just as he promised manager Justin Edinburgh.
O’Connor admits he began to doubt that he would ever regain his fitness during the dark days of winter but now he’s looking forward to next season full of optimism.
“You do doubt sometimes after being told you’ve only got three or four weeks out and then three months later you’re still not back,” he said.
“You start to think ‘am I ever going to get back’ but all you can do is follow what the experts tell you to do and hope it goes away.
“Thankfully my injuries have gone and there are some people who don’t come back so I’ve got to look at the positives as well.
“Hopefully I’ve got loads more football in me. I’ve never taken it for granted but this year has made me cherish the time I have on the pitch.
“I’ll be doing everything I can to get as fit as I can and score as many goals as I can.
“I’ll be looking to stamp my mark on the team next year and do my bit, which I couldn’t do this year.”
O’Connor was delighted to grab the Exiles’ first goal in Saturday’s 2-1 win over promotion-winners Rochdale and says the result bodes well for next season.
“It was a good feeling. I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “It was fate. It was meant to be.
“I spoke to the manager a few days before the game and my last words to him on the phone were ‘if you start me I’ll guarantee you a goal’.
“None of the top eight teams have come here and won,” he added.
“We’ve also proved that we’re more than a match for the top teams in this division.
“There are a lot of positives and I think we’re more than capable of making the play-offs next season.”