STAR man Josh Sheehan and manager Michael Flynn believe Newport County AFC have got an unfair reputation as a long-ball team looking to bully their way to success in League Two.

County have enjoyed a good start to the new campaign and they find themselves just three points off the top of the table after 15 games.

But opposition managers have lined up all season to label Flynn’s men as a ‘direct’ and ‘physical’ team reliant on set-pieces and happy to lump the ball into the box at every opportunity.

Gillingham boss Steve Evans is no stranger to rubbing people up the wrong way and his words after a Carabao Cup defeat to the Exiles in August particularly riled Flynn.

“We had to deal with a bit of an aerial threat and that is how Flynn’s team play, they just launch it,” said Evans.

Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe was more diplomatic after his side lost 1-0 at Rodney Parade, but the implication was clear.

“Without being disrespectful to Newport, they are quite different,” said Lowe.

“They go from back to front quickly, with power and pace.

“We could deal with several situations before they scored and a long ball has gone into the box for the big lad, fair play to them.”

And Forest Green Rovers goalkeeping coach Dan Connor was clearly not impressed by County’s style of play after the 2-0 victory for the visitors at The New Lawn.

“They’ve got their own way,” said Connor. “That’s no disrespect to the way different teams play, but they are set on kicking it long and trying to score from that.”

Sheehan has won rave reviews for his performances this season and his ability to pick a pass was on display as he created Tristan Abrahams’ goal at Colchester United last Saturday with a defence-splitting ball.

He believes derogatory and dismissive comments don’t take into account the Exiles’ ability to “mix it up” depending on who they are facing.

South Wales Argus:

Looking ahead to Saturday’s home clash with Salford City, the midfielder said: “We want to keep ticking over, keep getting those wins and keep grinding down teams.

“Teams don’t like coming to Rodney Parade and they know that we will give anyone a game. We’ll fight for every single ball.

“Sometimes we get categorized as a long-ball team but I feel like we can mix it up.

“If a team sits off us, we’ll play. If a team comes and presses, we’ll go long.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

Ultimately, teams will be judged on results and County’s approach is proving effective.

Flynn recognises the importance of set-plays and works hard on them and, while recent matches have seen 6ft 5ins centre-back Ryan Inniss used as a target, there is plenty of inventiveness in the way his side look to use corners and free-kicks.

“A lot of it is a myth,” said the manager recently.

“We don’t just lump the ball forward.

"Yes, we’ve got set-plays but the biggest games in the world have been won from set-plays – World Cup finals and Champions League finals.

“Manchester United scored from two set-plays when they beat Bayern Munich to win the European Cup [in 1999].

“So I’m never going to apologise for us doing our homework on set-plays and looking to get an advantage over the opposition.”

Read more: Newport County boss urges Crystal Palace loanee to focus on football