THE Newport County AFC players will always have the memories of Saturday’s unforgettable FA Cup clash with Manchester City, but there is little time to dwell on them as they’re straight back to league action at Notts County tonight.

The Exiles have rightly been praised to the hilt for their battling performance against the City superstars and their incredible run to the last-16 in the world’s oldest cup competition.

But they know all too well that they will ultimately be judged on where they finish in League Two this season.

The temporary stands will come down, the crowds will return to normal and the media attention will dwindle (apart from in the Argus, naturally).

South Wales Argus:

The Newport County story is over for at least another 10 months as far as the national news agenda is concerned, but Michael Flynn and his players know there is still work to do this season.

Flynn is annoyed to be dragging his charges up to Nottingham so soon after what was a mammoth effort against Pep Guardiola’s quadruple-chasers, and understandably so.

“It’s going to be difficult because of the amount of running we’ve done on that football pitch,” said the Exiles boss.

“I can’t believe we’ve got a game on Tuesday. You almost get punished for doing well in the FA Cup and it needs looking at because small clubs like us with small squads it really adds to the strain.

“It’s crazy, but it is what it is. We’ve got to get on with it and there can be no excuses.”

Flynn’s men managed to rouse themselves to beat Mansfield Town four days after their stunning replay win over Middlesbrough earlier this month and they will have to produce a similarly determined display to see off the in-form Magpies tonight.

“They’ve signed well in the window, they’ve got a huge budget and they’re able to do that,” said the manager.

“And they’ve won two in a row now so it’s going to be difficult.”

That win over Mansfield was hugely impressive but the Exiles have found life tough after their FA Cup heroics over the past two seasons, especially away from home.

After last year’s draw with Spurs they were beaten at Lincoln City three days later and after their narrow loss in the replay at Wembley they were thumped 5-0 at Mansfield in their next game.

And this season they have lost at Lincoln and Crewe Alexandra immediately after beating Wrexham and Leicester City in the cup.

In fact, County have not won on the road in the league since September – a statistic that needs to change quickly if they are to revive their faint hopes of getting back into the play-off picture.

South Wales Argus:

Both Padraig Amond and Mickey Demetriou are convinced that a top-seven finish is still within their reach, but the manager has refused to talk about the play-offs in recent weeks.

“I was disappointed by the last two goals we conceded,” said Flynn after the 4-1 defeat to City.

“But maybe that will bring them down to earth that bit quicker because it wasn’t the grandstand finish we were hoping for.

“You just hope that they carry on doing the right things and we get a result.

“We’ve got to put a run together now and get the points on the board and start planning for next season.

“The financial side [of the cup run] is huge for the club and it allows us now to plan properly and to get some contracts done with the players and the backroom staff.

“There are some players playing for contracts, others playing for moves. They’ve all got a reason to play well to the end of the season.”

For tonight’s opponents, of course, there is everything to play for as they fight for survival at the wrong end of the table.

After Saturday’s win over local rivals Mansfield, Notts know that a win tonight will lift them out of the bottom two.

But, like Flynn, their manager Neal Ardley is also worried that his side could suffer a hangover after such a big effort at the weekend.

“It will be our toughest and most important game because of the expectation,” said Ardley. “They will ask a lot of questions of us and, if we don’t answer them, our unbeaten run will be over.

“Now we have that bit of expectation, we need the fans to keep driving us on even if we are 1-0 down after 70 minutes.

“The fans have been fantastic and we need them to continue to get behind us for 14 more games, no matter who we are playing and whether we are favourites or not – every single point and every minute of each match counts.”

Jobs are on the line for those at Meadow Lane and it’s another huge test for the Exiles.

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