I’VE had better bank holidays but, frustrating as a fruitless trip to Chesterfield was, this Easter Monday was certainly less painful for Newport County AFC than last year’s 6-1 thumping at Plymouth Argyle.

Manager Michael Flynn was rightly critical of the timing of the decision to postpone the match at the Proact Stadium.

Overnight snow in Derbyshire meant the game was always going to be in doubt but after failing to make an early call, the referee’s “precautionary look” at the pitch led to Chesterfield telling fans that the match would go ahead “unless weather conditions worsen significantly.”

That was at 11am but the Spireites then broke the news just over an hour later that the match was postponed “following a lengthy pitch inspection” by the referee.

By that time the team, the fans and yours truly were all at least three-quarters of the way to the ground – a situation that could easily have been avoided.

Many Exiles supporters made the best of a bad situation by diverting to nearby Kidderminster to catch the Harriers’ home clash with Brackley Town, and evidently enjoyed themselves, but they and fellow travelling fans will be left out of pocket.

And it means County will end the season with two long away trips – to Chesterfield on May 1 and Carlisle United on May 5.

Unlike last season, it’s unlikely that there will be too much riding on those matches for Flynn’s men.

Nobody will be throwing in the towel but the play-offs now look to be out of reach and the manager and his staff have already started planning for next season.

And, with an unexpected afternoon off on Monday, they can hardly help but be inspired by the ongoing miracle at Accrington Stanley.

The Lancashire minnows were the sacrificial lambs on the day that County finally returned to the Football League at a sun-kissed Rodney Parade back in August 2013 (below).

South Wales Argus:

Stanley were roasted 4-1 and went on to finish a point behind the Exiles in 15th place under the guidance of former England international James Beattie.

After a poor start to the following season Beattie was sacked with the team in 21st place and John Coleman returned to steer them to 17th by the end of the 2014-2015 campaign, nine points and eight places below County.

Since then Coleman has transformed unfashionable Stanley.

In 2016 they finished in fourth place on 85 points, just missing out on automatic promotion on goal difference before losing in the play-offs to eventual winners AFC Wimbledon.

And last season it was only a disastrous start that cost them a play-off spot.

A Boxing Day defeat at Grimsby Town left Stanley 22nd in the table – only four points above Graham Westley’s Exiles, who had a game in hand.

But 12 wins in the second half of the season saw them finish just five points short of the top seven.

And this season, Coleman’s men are marching towards League One and a quite extraordinary title triumph.

Monday’s vital victory over Notts County was a club League record ninth consecutive home victory and sixth in a row since a 1-1 draw at Barnet in February.

Stanley have lost just once in 2018 and are now three points clear of second-placed Luton Town with two games in hand.

And with just seven matches left to play they are 11 points clear of fourth-placed Exeter City.

By my reckoning they need a maximum of eight more points to guarantee promotion to the third tier for the first time since the reformation of the club in the late 1960s.

South Wales Argus:

And Coleman (above) and his staff have achieved this despite working with the joint lowest budget in the Football League, alongside regional rivals Morecambe.

Stanley don’t even have a proper training facility. They rent a 3G pitch at a nearby school and have to be off the premises by midday every day.

They struggle to attract crowds of 2,000 for most home games at the ramshackle Wham Stadium and have had to contend with losing key men like Shay McCartan, Matty Pearson, Omar Beckles, Josh Windass and Matty Crooks over the past two summers.

But in Coleman they have a manager who knows the club inside out after 17 years in charge over two separate spells.

And, as well as the best striker in the division in Billy Kee, they have an enviable team spirit that will undoubtedly get them over that line.

It’s a potent mix and one that will surely give clubs like County the belief that they can enjoy their own footballing fairy tale.