NEWPORT County AFC finally got their season up and running on Saturday and the only way is up now, according to returning hero Ryan Jackson.
Jackson was recalled to the starting XI in place of captain Andy Sandell and was named sponsors’ man of the match at Rodney Parade as the Exiles earned a point against promotion candidates Burton Albion.
But modest Jackson heaped praise on his teammates for a much-improved display against the Brewers after four straight defeats.
“I thought everyone worked hard,” said the former AFC Wimbledon defender. “It was a good team performance and we could have got all three points.
“A point was a minimum for us and the result was the main thing but I was pleased to put in a good performance.
“I like playing as a wing-back because it gives me freedom to attack and I’ve got nobody in front of me so I can use my pace and get up and down the wing.
“It suits me and Robbie so it’s a good formation for us,” he added.
“I’m here to play my best and contribute towards the team and if the gaffer puts me in I just do my job.
“I have to get up and down and it is tiring but that’s what I’m here to do.
“The clearance off the line hit my stomach and took the stuffing out of me but it was worth it.”
Jackson believes that the draw with Burton, courtesy of Chris Zebroski’s first half opener, will lead to more points at Portsmouth this coming Saturday.
“It’s our first point of the season so that will give us confidence and a platform to build on ahead of Portsmouth away,” he said.
“Every game is difficult in this league but Portsmouth have a good following and if we can get another point or maybe three then we can build on that again.”
The only negative for the Exiles is the loss of striker Rene Howe to a serious thigh injury in training late last week.
“It’s sad for Rene that his season could be over and it’s disappointing for the team as well because he’s been a good addition to the squad since he came here,” said Jackson.
“He’ll be missed but we have to work collectively and get some more points on the board.”
Zebroski, who was credited with the goal despite the last touch coming off visiting captain Ian Sharps, agrees that the result is a step in the right direction.
“I’m claiming the goal,” said last season’s top scorer. “Luckily I got across the keeper and got my head to the ball and it found the net.
“This is the turning point and the foundation that we can build our season on. We can go to Fratton Park and get three points.”