MICHAEL Flynn celebrates his first year as manager of Newport County AFC this week and what a year it’s been for him and for everyone connected with the club.

It was on March 4 last year that County’s relegation from the Football League was seemingly confirmed after the abject humiliation of a 4-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Leyton Orient.

The O’s, fielding a side packed with teenagers, ripped the Exiles to shreds in front of more than 3,000 disbelieving home fans at Rodney Parade.

Graham Westley’s side were cut six points adrift at the bottom of League Two and 11 points from safety with just 12 games left to play.

Westley was eventually sacked on March 9 with Flynn unveiled as caretaker manager the following day and overseeing his first match on March 11 – a 2-1 victory at Crewe Alexandra thanks to Joss Labadie’s 89th-minute winner.

Five more wins and a draw against Luton Town saw Flynn’s men battle their way out of the bottom two before Mark O’Brien’s last-gasp winner against Notts County secured survival in remarkable fashion on the final day of an exhausting and ultimately exhilarating campaign.

With the heroes of the Great Escape retained and exciting new talent brought in over the summer, County’s rise has continued into this season.

The Exiles ended August in second place in the table and also made the second round of the Carabao Cup, taking the lead against Leeds United at Elland Road before the Championship giants clicked into gear in the second half.

County got their revenge by dumping Leeds out of the FA Cup in the third round in January thanks to another 89th-minute winner – this time from Shawn McCoulsky.

And they were within eight minutes of another massive upset in the fourth round when Padraig Amond headed them in front against Tottenham Hotspur.

Harry Kane earned the Premier League big boys a replay at Wembley and the Exiles did themselves proud as they held Spurs to a narrow 2-0 win at the home of English football, watched by more than 7,000 travelling fans from Wales.

In the league, the 2-1 win over Harry Kewell’s Crawley Town on January 19 saw County climb to fifth in the table – just one point off the automatic promotion spots.

Things haven’t exactly gone to plan since then with just three points added to their tally, no wins in six league games and no goals at all in February.

But the statistics show that Flynn’s first 12 months in charge have been a resounding success.

The 37-year-old has guided his hometown club through 46 league games as manager – the equivalent to a full season in League Two.

And with 70 points accrued during that time would have made County play-off contenders in every one of the last 10 seasons in English football’s fourth tier.

Last season that total would have seen Flynn’s men finish eighth – level on points with Blackpool, who went on to win promotion via the play-off final at Wembley.

In 2016, 2015 and 2014, 70 points (and a goal difference of -4) would have seen the Exiles finish eighth each time.

In 2013 they would have nudged into seventh, a point above eventual play-off winners Bradford City.

In 2012 and 2010 a total of 70 points meant a ninth-place finish, while in 2011 it was enough to claim sixth spot and in 2009 and 2008 it would have put County in seventh and eighth respectively.

County’s form under Flynn extrapolated out over a full season would have earned them an average position of 7.8 over the last decade.

Speaking before tonight’s home clash with Forest Green Rovers, the manager was keen to share the credit for that incredible turnaround with his players and with his staff, especially coach Wayne Hatswell and management consultant Lennie Lawrence.

“I’ve been in charge for 46 games now – a full season – and we’ve earned 70 points, which is not a bad return from where we were,” said Flynn.

“The players deserve a lot of the credit but it’s been a great team effort with all the staff as well.

“Everyone has had to dig deep and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved over the last 12 months.”

And so they should be.

The manager and the team know they are not above criticism and they are more determined than anyone to kickstart their season after a frustrating few weeks.

But, whatever happens between now and the end of the season, surely nobody can argue with the progress made in in the first year of the Flynn era.