THE remarkable rise of Newport County AFC goes on after another thrilling example of final-day drama at Morecambe on Saturday.

Two years on from completing the Great Escape from relegation thanks to Mark O’Brien’s 89th-minute winner against Notts County at Rodney Parade, the Exiles left it late again.

Jamille Matt’s 87th-minute equaliser at the Globe Arena was enough to seal a place in the League Two play-offs.

Whatever happens in this week’s semi-finals against Mansfield Town, the fact that County have gone from relegation-battlers to promotion contenders in two years is a fantastic achievement.

And with two extraordinary FA Cup runs thrown into the mix as well, this is without a doubt one of the best periods in the club’s recent history.

Manager Michael Flynn, assistant Wayne Hatswell, mentor Lennie Lawrence, all the backroom staff, and every single member of the squad can be proud of what they’ve accomplished so far.

And it could get even better over the next few weeks.

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On May 6 in 2017 Flynn’s men were a minute away from a return to non-league football and facing up to potential oblivion.

“If we’d been relegated back then, I think the club would have gone,” said the manager before Saturday’s match.

As I write this on May 6 in 2019, the Exiles are three games from promotion to League One.

Appearing as a guest on BBC Radio Wales’ Good Morning Wales show last week, I was asked if County are ready for promotion.

“It would be difficult and there will be financial challenges,” was my answer. “But you’ve got to take your chance when it comes along.”

The club would almost certainly find it tough in League One, but who knows when this opportunity will come along again?

If they don’t make it, it will be very difficult to keep this talented squad together.

Despite the money made from the FA Cup heroics, the club is far from flush and they will always be hard-pushed to compete with bigger clubs in League One or League Two.

The most recent set of financial results showed a profit of £82,680 for the 2017-2018 season, but without the cup money they would have lost around £350,000 – just like they did in 2016-2017.

This season’s run to the FA Cup fifth round will lead to another profit for the 2018-2019 campaign and an encouraging growth in contributions from Trust members is helping the club move towards a more sustainable future.

But, despite some rivals believing that County are rolling in it, there is no prospect of Flynn splashing the cash this summer.

“The football club is the most important thing,” he said last month.

“If the board gambled in the summer and gave us a squad that was good enough to go up and we ended up £600,000 in debt with no cup run, it would kind of defeat the object.

“We’ve got to be self-sustainable to a point and I think every bit of caution has been taken and we’ve got the best out of the boys. It’s as simple as that."

“I would have bitten your hand off for this at the start of the season,” he added after sealing a play-off spot.

“The way we’ve come together as a group is superb.

“People go on about budgets – it’s a bottom-three budget. But we’ve got a group of lads who play above their means more often than not.

“We’ve got a board who are very supportive and try to help out in ways they can and we’ve got a fantastic group of fans who are the core of this football club and always will be.”

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And Saturday’s goal hero Matt credits Flynn with creating the togetherness needed to upset the odds this season.

“He’s brilliant,” said the striker. “He keeps all the boys level.

“He knows what to say and when to say it. He doesn’t get carried away, but the belief he shows in us is why we are where we are.

“Every man has played their part this season. The team spirit is fantastic. Everyone gets on really well and it shows out there on the pitch.”

It certainly does. The scenes of jubilation after Matt’s goal on Saturday and after that agonising wait to find out the Forest Green Rovers v Exeter City score will live long in the memory of everyone who was there.

It showed how much it means to this group of players and the fans.

Hopefully there will be more to celebrate before the end of the month.