Argus football writer ANDREW PENMAN gives his take on the world of sport every Tuesday. He says:

IT HAS been 130 days since Newport County AFC were last in the League Two play-off positions but tonight, in the final week of the regular season, they can return to the top seven.

A 3-2 defeat at Lincoln City three days before Christmas saw the Exiles slip from sixth place to eighth and, in a winter dominated by that extraordinary run to the fifth round of the FA Cup, they even slipped as low as 15th by the end of February.

They’ve not been higher than 11th in 2019 and as recently as mid-March, after successive defeats at Colchester United and Northampton Town, they looked doomed to a mid-table finish at best.

With 10 fixtures remaining, Michael Flynn’s men were eight points below seventh-placed Colchester with a game in hand.

And, after that last-gasp defeat to the Cobblers, a frustrated Flynn said: “I’m not even thinking about the play-offs.

“You won’t get in the play-offs with away form as bad as ours.”

Joss Labadie was adamant that the players would not give up the fight.

“Stranger things have happened,” said the midfielder, who led the Exiles to the Great Escape from relegation in 2017 when they won seven of their final 12 games of the season.

“We’re going to need a great back end to the season but we’ve done it before and until it’s mathematically impossible we won’t be giving up.

“We’re progressing year-on-year and we want to go one better than last year and try to reach the play-offs.

“We’re going to keep going until the end.”

South Wales Argus:

They were stirring words from Labadie but I have to admit that I thought the game was up as I drove back from Sixfields that night.

How wrong I was! Since that late heartbreak on March 12, County have put together a hugely impressive eight-game unbeaten run.

Three draws and five wins have earned them 18 points in that time, compared to just seven for Northampton, 10 for Colchester, 11 for Carlisle United and Swindon Town, 14 for Exeter City (from nine games) and 15 for Stevenage.

Saturday’s fantastic victory over champions Lincoln means their fate is in their own hands.

Two more wins – against Oldham Athletic at Rodney Parade tonight and at Morecambe this coming Saturday – will guarantee County a place in the play-offs.

If they can extend that unbeaten run to 10 games and get over the line, they will thoroughly deserve a shot at promotion.

And, as the form team in the division, nobody will fancy taking on Flynn’s men over two legs in the semi-finals next week.

Flynn and his players seem to have replicated that Great Escape spirit – as evidenced by the revival of their signature tune Ain’t No Stoppin’ Un Now after the victory over Bury on Good Friday.

And even new arrivals like Ben Kennedy have quickly bought into the Exiles’ team ethic.

“We’re all together and we’re going to do this together,” said Kennedy after the win over Lincoln.

“I’ve only been here a few months, but the togetherness here is second to none.

“It shows on the pitch,” he added. “We’re resilient in our defending and we attack as a team.

“And I could tell from the first time I arrived – getting on the bus to Grimsby – that the lads were all on board with the gaffer and they respected him and Hats [assistant manager Wayne Hatswell] and all the staff around the club.

“The way the club is run, everyone is together as one and there’s a lot of community work helping the people of Newport.

“It’s a great club and a club like this deserves a good break.”

That togetherness fostered by Flynn and his coaching staff is the club’s greatest strength and I’m now a firm believer that it will see them finish the job this week.

Ain’t no stoppin’ ‘em? Oldham and Morecambe, who boast the twin threats of Exiles bogeyman Kevin Ellison and County academy graduate Aaron Collins, will have something to say about that.

But there’s a real momentum behind the boys in amber now, and it might just carry them all the way.

Read more: We'll finish the job this week, vows Exiles boss Flynn

Read more: Lincoln match-winner calls on fans to be 12th man tonight