CAPTAIN Joss Labadie believes Newport County AFC are beginning to get the respect they deserve after showing they are “a force to be reckoned with” in League Two.

After reaching the play-off final in May, County kicked off the new campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to promotion favourites Mansfield Town on Saturday.

Labadie, who opened the scoring before Padraig Amond put the Exiles 2-0 up, was desperately disappointed to see two points slip away as Mansfield battled back to claim a draw in the second half.

But, like manager Michael Flynn, the skipper was pleased with the way they took the game to their much-fancied opponents and out-played the Stags for the majority of the match.

“We’re all pretty gutted,” said Labadie. “After such a good first half, we kind of went to sleep a little bit at the beginning of the second half.

“To be fair to them, they probably got a rocket at half-time and they came out strong.

“But that’s testament to us and how well we performed in the first half and how serious we’re getting taken now as a team.

“We did really well. They’ll be up there at the end of the season, but we’re getting taken seriously now and we’re a force to be reckoned with.

“We are 100 per cent strong enough for a promotion push, without a doubt.”

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Labadie knows, however, that County need to learn lessons from the way that they let Mansfield back into the match as they prepare to travel to Cambridge United at the weekend.

“All the boys were magnificent in the first half,” said the midfielder.

“We really took the game to them and we’re gutted that we didn’t get the three points.

“There’s plenty of positives to take from the game and hopefully we can go into next week and get a positive result again.

“But we can’t rest on our laurels and think ‘what a great first-half’ – we’ve got to go out with the same intensity that we did in the first half. We didn’t do that and we got punished.”

Labadie is delighted to be captaining the side once again this season, having previously led the side before his anterior cruciate ligament knee injury in March 2018.

The former Dagenham & Redbridge man briefly left the club last summer before re-signing in October and Andrew Crofts, Mickey Demetriou, Fraser Franks, Mark O’Brien and Amond all wore the armband last season.

But, after agreeing a new two-year deal, the 28-year-old is happy to have resumed the role first handed to him by Flynn in March 2017.

“I’m very proud to have the armband on again,” he said.

“I’ve missed leading the team out, but there’s a lot of captains in that dressing room and I’m sure whoever does it will do a great job. I’m just grateful it was me first up.”

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