“WE’RE Newport County, we fight to the end” sang the travelling fans at the Globe Arena as their heroes sealed a play-off place with just three minutes to spare.

Manager Michael Flynn hailed the never-say-die attitude that has been a trademark of his team from the Great Escape and throughout those fantastic FA Cup runs of the past two seasons.

But, as impressive as County’s fighting spirit is, the fans – all 871 of them who made the 225-mile journey – were just as important in getting their side over the line on Saturday.

The Exiles boss and his players recognised that fact as they celebrated with the supporters after Jamille Matt’s 87th-minute tap-in had cancelled out Aaron Collins’ first-half opener.

And, after four minutes of stoppage time and another agonising few minutes waiting for confirmation of the Exeter City result, there were even more joyous scenes as everyone connected with the club revelled in an awesome achievement.

Players and fans were united in joy and many of the amber army handed over fancy dress sheep masks to their heroes on the pitch.

“The fans were brilliant,” said Matt afterwards.

“They never once stopped singing. They didn’t get disappointed, they kept us going and I think that was a massive factor in getting us over the line in the end.

“Around the club and around the city you get to see a few familiar faces and they were all there. It’s brilliant to do it for them and hopefully there’ll be more celebrations to come.”

Flynn also paid tribute to the supporters.

“It was an absolutely fantastic following,” said the manager. “They were unbelievable throughout the whole game.

“They didn’t stop and, to be honest, it must have been demoralising for them at times because everything was going against us and we were poor.

“But they roared us on. Every time we had a corner they were roaring and I was thinking Forest Green had scored, they were that loud.

“It was a fantastic effort.”

South Wales Argus:

It was certainly a rollercoaster ride for the County faithful.

Flynn’s men slipped out of the top seven when former Exiles youngster Collins drilled the Shrimps ahead on 20 minutes.

First Exeter and then Colchester United thought they might pip County at the final straight.

And if Joe Day hadn’t been in such fine form, one of them probably would have done.

But the League Two player of the month pulled off some superb saves to deny Collins and substitute Liam Mandeville before Matt bundled in after sub Ade Azeez had laid off Dan Butler’s ball into the box in the 87th minute.

“It was an awful start,” admitted Flynn. “We were poor. We got into some really good positions in the first half, but we wasted them.

“In the second half we got cut open way too easily and maybe it was the desperation of trying to get a goal.

“Aaron Collins should have scored a hat-trick and Joe Day kept us in it.

“But we kept going and I can’t fault them for that. Even if we hadn’t done it, this bunch of players are absolutely fantastic and it’s a joy to come in every day and work with them.

“You’ve seen the bond we’ve got. I want players who will give their all for this club and for me as a manager, and that’s what I’ve got.”

And the manager reserved special praise for goal hero Matt.

“It’s his 20th of the season,” added Flynn. “I told him I was going to get him scoring in the summer and he told me he was going to get 20.

“And he did it. He was true to his word. He’s been fantastic, because he’s not right and he’s going to have a good few days off now.”

He deserves a rest, as do the rest of the team, but you can be sure they will be raring to go again on Thursday night against Mansfield Town.

County: Day; Poole (McKirdy, 74), O’Brien, Demetriou; Willmott, Bennett, Sheehan (Marsh-Brown, 86), Butler; Dolan (Azeez, 58); Amond, Matt

Subs not used: Pipe, Crofts, Bakinson

Booked: O’Brien

Referee: Neil Hair

Attendance: 2,776 (871 County)