JOE Day always knew that he would have a fight for the start at Newport County AFC but he got even more evidence when watching the highlights of the Carabao Cup win at Ipswich Town.

The 31-year-old goalkeeper is back at Rodney Parade after two seasons with Cardiff City and got the nod for the League Two opener at Oldham Athletic.

In truth it was a pretty uneventful return at Boundary Park with Day, called the best 'keeper in the division by boss Michael Flynn, having little to do when keeping a clean sheet in the 1-0 win.

The same couldn't be said for Nick Townsend, who got the nod for the midweek trip to Suffolk.

The 26-year-old was in the firing line as the Tractor Boys fired in 25 shots and piled on the pressure in the hunt for an equaliser after Timmy Abraham's early goal.

It looked like the Ipswich leveller had finally come when Armando Dobra smashed a powerful effort to the top corner only for Townsend to fling himself to his left and deflect the ball behind for a corner.

The footage shows it was a terrific save but it was even more remarkable in the flesh.

Townsend earned a contract extension thanks to his exploits for much of last season before Tom King got the nod for the run-in.

Day knows that he will have the same weekly tension when waiting to hear the first name on manager Michael Flynn's teamsheet.

"That's what you want. You need someone that will compete with you," said the stopper, who turned 31 yesterday.

"It's healthy competition and brings the best out of the both of us. We've got that positive relationship where we bring the best out of each other, we saw that in the last season that I was here.

"Nick is a fantastic goalkeeper and whoever plays in whatever competition at any point of the season, I know that we will be 100 per cent behind each other."

Nonetheless, stoppers have a unique situation in football of having to sit unused on the bench when their teammate and rival is ahead in the pecking order.

"That's the job. When you are not playing as a goalkeeper it can be mentally tough but you get used to that role as a kid," said Day.

"You learn to deal with that and adapt, when you are playing it's fantastic but when you are not it can be disappointing.

"It takes the right kind of character to still be positive in the group and make sure you are doing the right things for the club."

South Wales Argus:

Day had experience of that at Cardiff, heading to the Bluebirds keen to show he could step up to the Championship after being the best in League Two.

It didn't work out and he made just two appearances before having loan spells at AFC Wimbledon and Bristol Rovers.

"I am definitely better for the experience, I believe I am a better goalkeeper now than when I left," he said.

"It was frustrating because of the lack of opportunities. I knew it could potentially be that way and that's why I sought out opportunities to go out on loan to get game time.

"It wasn't for the lack of trying, I gave it everything I had but it just didn't work out unfortunately."

That led to Day staying in south Wales and returning to County, whose style now means he needs to impress with his feet as well as his hands.

"Watching County last year, and even the year before, they have definitely been trying to build a style of play that it possession-based," he said.

"They build from the back and that is something that from my previous time here wasn't applied as much.

"It's something that I feel comfortable with and it's one of the main aspects of my game that has improved in the last couple of years."

Day will be keen to show he's still the best in League Two at Mansfield this afternoon, returning to the ground where his penalty shootout heroics helped earn a spot in the 2019 play-off final.