NEWPORT County AFC captain Mark O’Brien is convinced that the Exiles’ fighting spirit will give them the edge in tomorrow’s League Two play-off semi-final second-leg showdown at Mansfield Town.

The sides are locked at 1-1 after an action-packed first leg at Rodney Parade on Thursday night, when County had to battle back from a goal down to achieve parity – just as they did at Morecambe last Saturday to seal a top-seven spot.

But this team’s battling qualities go back much further than that – all the way to the Great Escape from relegation in 2017, when O’Brien buried a last-gasp winner against Notts County.

Michael Flynn’s men have also upset the odds time and again over the past two seasons by shocking some of the giants of the game in the FA Cup.

And O’Brien believes they can do the same against promotion favourites Mansfield tomorrow to seal a place in the play-off final at Wembley on May 25.

“Overall, I think both sides would have taken a draw and it’s about playing our hearts out on Sunday now,” said the skipper.

“I don’t think anyone has an advantage. Whether you’re home or away, I think anyone can beat anyone in a one-off game.

“You have to forget what’s happened and start afresh.

“We know that they will come at us all guns blazing, but we’ve been in much tougher situations than this throughout this season and before.

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“There’s no reason why we can’t rise to the occasion again,” he added.

“That fighting spirit has showed ever since I’ve been here – from the Great Escape to last season in the FA Cup and this season as well in the runs we’ve had in the cup and in the league.

“We always know that we will get chances coming our way if we can keep them out at the other end.

“Thankfully, over the last few months we have achieved that.

“And we know that, with the way we play and with the pressure we can put on teams, there will be goals in us.”

County were beaten 3-0 at Field Mill on the opening day of the season and they were thumped 5-0 on their previous visit in February 2018.

But O’Brien insists there is nothing to fear this weekend.

“In a one-off game, I don’t think that has an effect,” said the centre-back.

“They can be strong at home, just like anyone else in the league, but it’s a cup final now.

“It’s a level playing field and we know that, if we give it our all, there’s not many teams that have coped with us in the past.

“They’re not going to be looking forward to having to play us again and going through another battle like that and we just have to relish going there. We feel if we give everything, we will make it.

“It’s been an amazing season and hopefully we can go up there and finish the job off.”

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