IT’S going to be hard for Newport County AFC boss Michael Flynn to top the past 12 months in 2018, but you wouldn’t bet against him following up the great escape with a successful promotion push.

First and foremost for Flynn, who takes his team to Cheltenham Town this afternoon (kick-off 3pm) before welcoming Exeter City to Rodney Parade on New Year’s Day, improvement is essential.

Starting today’s League Two clash against the Robins in 10th place is a far cry from where the Exiles were this time last year.

It was early in January 2017 that Flynn came out of retirement to be re- registered as a player by then manager Graham Westley.

Some two months later and the County hero – Flynn, not Westley – was in caretaker charge of his hometown club – they were 11 points from safety with 12 games left.

There followed an escape act that Harry Houdini himself would have been proud of, with Mark O’Brien’s late winner against Notts County on the final day of the campaign preventing relegation.

A little over three months later and Flynn was celebrating again, this time the birth of baby son Samuel.

And now, nearly five months into the 2017/18 term, the Exiles are just three points outside the play-off places.

Reflecting on the last year, Flynn said: “It was amazing for me.

“My little boy Samuel was born and I kept the club up – it couldn’t have gone any better if I’m honest.”

Looking forward, he added: “I want to improve.

“I want to improve as a manager. I want to improve this club. I want to improve the boys’ performances.

“I’m hungry and I want to do well, and I want to do well for this club.

“That’s all I can promise myself really because I know I won’t break that promise.

“I’m realistic. We’ve got one of the lowest budgets but I was confident we could put a team together that would over-exceed expectations, and at the moment we’re doing that.

“I don’t look at the league table in August, I didn’t look at it in September, and I definitely haven’t looked at it now.

“We’re 10th, we’re doing alright, and we’re in the mix.

“It’s something I’m not getting carried away with but it’s something we can look at with positivity going into the New Year.”

As well as making a push for promotion from League Two in 2018, County also have the added incentive of a good run in the FA Cup.

After home wins over Walsall and league rivals Cambridge United, Flynn’s men welcome Championship giants Leeds United to Rodney Parade on January 7.

Another win and the Exiles may well be looking at a money-spinning tie in the fourth round, one that could be a big financial boost to Flynn’s hopes for a new training base.