STRIKER Jamille Matt says Newport County AFC are happy to be underdogs against Mansfield Town and he’s confident that the team spirit at Rodney Parade will see them prevail.

Matt scored the late equaliser at Morecambe on Saturday to seal seventh spot for County and they host fourth-placed Mansfield in tonight’s League Two play-off semi-final first leg.

The Stags, who were pipped to the final automatic promotion place by MK Dons, are the favourites to progress to the final at Wembley.

But Matt is adamant that the Exiles have a great chance of upsetting the odds.

“The belief is really strong in the dressing room,” said the 29-year-old.

“We’ve got good players and we’ve shown that we can mix with anyone on our day.

“If people want to give us the tag of underdog that’s nothing that we can affect.

“We can only affect what we do on the pitch, which is what we try to do.

“We’ve got some good players and we’ve got a great team spirit.

“Speaking to a mate of mine after we played Oldham, he said that he can see the team spirit amongst us.

“That’s nice and we feel that amongst ourselves.

“We’re a great team and we know that, when we play to the best of our abilities, we can get results,” he added.

“Team spirit is massive in football and we’ve got it here in abundance.

“This is the best I’ve been involved with and it’ll be nice to have something to show for that at the end of the season.”

FA Cup wins over Leicester City and Middlesbrough this season prove that County can rise to the big occasion.

“We’ve shown this season in the games we’ve played against teams from a higher division that we can mix it and match teams on our day, so we’re quietly confident,” added Matt.

“We have to show a lot of respect to Mansfield because they finished fourth in the table and they were unlucky not to go up automatically.

“They’re definitely one of the better teams in our division, but we’re quietly confident in our own ability.”

South Wales Argus:

Manager Michael Flynn and Matt’s teammates David Pipe and Robbie Willmott were part of the squad that won the Conference play-off final against Wrexham in 2013.

Matt played for Plymouth Argyle in the 2016 League Two play-off final, when the Pilgrims were beaten by AFC Wimbledon.

“I think if you do go up through the play-offs, it’s the best way to go up,” he said.

“If you get there and lose, it’s the opposite.

“But you have to take the two games first and not get ahead of yourself.

“Whoever stays the calmest over two legs will prevail.

“We’ve got the home game first, which we’re quite happy with because we’re quite strong at home.

“I don’t think many teams like facing us at home, so we’re looking forward to it.

“You’ve got to make sure you’re up for it in both games, because if you don’t perform in one game that could be you out of it.

“But I’m sure the boys can handle that pressure.”

South Wales Argus:

With 42 goals between them, the onus will be on Matt and top scorer Padraig Amond to fire their side to Wembley.

“It’s been a good partnership,” said Matt. “I think we both work our socks off. Podge probably runs a bit more than me, but I think we bounce off each other quite well.

“He’s a good foil for me and vice versa. It’s a pleasure to play alongside him.

“You can see that on the pitch; we enjoy playing together and it comes quite natural to us.

Saturday's goal was Matt's 20th of the season and he credits the manager with inspiring the most prolific year of his career in the Football League.

"I remember the first conversation I had with the gaffer on the phone and he was adamant that I could get 20 goals this season," he recalled.

"I said it might take until the last game of the season, but I got there.

"I’ve got to say, that’s testament to him because he showed that belief in me and that’s the reason I wanted to sign here – because of the belief he showed in me straight away.

"It shows what he does as a manager. He gets the best out of players and that’s why we’ve managed to get into the play-offs this season."

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