WITH just three weeks of the year left, 2020 is almost upon us and it’s time to select the Newport County AFC team of the decade.

Despite progress in the cups, it’s been a been a disappointing few weeks for County in League Two.

So, what better way to cheer everyone up than a trip down memory lane?

And looking back at the past 10 years certainly helps show how far the Exiles have come, putting their current problems into perspective.

County kicked off the 2010s in the Conference South with a Sam Foley goal securing a 1-0 home win over Worcester City in front of 2,505 fans packed into Spytty Park for the New Year’s Day match.

That win maintained an impressive lead at the top of the table for Dean Holdsworth’s team, who went on to secure promotion to the Conference as champions a little more than 10 weeks later.

After the brief disastrous reign of Anthony Hudson, Justin Edinburgh saved the Exiles from a return to the sixth tier and took the club to Wembley for the first time in the 2012 FA Trophy final.

But it was a second trip to the headquarters of English football 12 months later that proved far more memorable as County beat Welsh rivals Wrexham in the 2013 Conference play-off final to return to the Football League after a 25-year absence.

After Edinburgh and then his assistant Jimmy Dack departed, there were seasons of struggle under Terry Butcher, John Sheridan, Warren Feeney and Graham Westley before current boss Michael Flynn took charge in March 2017.

Flynn, Wayne Hatswell and Lennie Lawrence masterminded the Great Escape from relegation before turning County into cup specialists and credible promotion contenders at the top end of League Two.

Memorable FA Cup victories over Leeds United, Leicester City and Middlesbrough, as well as brilliant battles with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, were followed by an amazing run to the League Two play-off final in May.

And, with a third-round trip to Millwall to look forward to in January, Flynn’s men will be looking to end the year on a high over the next few weeks to set up another promotion push in 2020.

It’s been an incredible decade for County fans, which makes it a tough task to pick the best 11 players of the last 10 years. But here goes…

South Wales Argus:

Goalkeeper: Joe Day

County are blessed with two top stoppers in the current squad with Tom King and Nick Townsend both battling to be considered number one.

Loan star Karl Darlow and 2013 promotion hero Lennie Pidgeley also deserve a mention, but this was one of the easier choices for me.

For five years of excellent service and consistent performance over more than 200 appearances, it has to be Joe Day between the sticks.

South Wales Argus:

Defence: Dan Butler, Mickey Demetriou, Mark O’Brien, David Pipe

I’ve gone with a 4-4-2 formation for my team of the decade to keep things simple but picking the best back four was no easy task.

Gary Warren, Paul Bignot, Andy Sandell, Ismail Yakubu, Tony James, Byron Anthony, Andrew Hughes, Ryan Jackson, Ben White and Regan Poole all miss out.

Dan Butler is an obvious choice at left-back and David Pipe gets the nod at right-back as the only player to make a key contribution to the 2013 promotion, the Great Escape in 2017 and last season’s run to the play-off final.

In the middle of the defence, Mark O’Brien earns his place thanks to that unforgettable winner against Notts County and his undoubted leadership qualities and Mickey Demetriou gets in ahead of White because of his longer service and his knack of scoring important goals.

South Wales Argus:

Midfield: Christian Jolley, Josh Sheehan, Mark Byrne, Robbie Willmott

Flynn, Lee Minshull, Max Porter, Danny Rose, Lee Evans and Joss Labadie can count themselves unlucky, but current star Josh Sheehan gets in for excelling in two different roles during his two spells at Rodney Parade.

Mark Byrne, a shining light in a bleak period, partners him in the middle and Robbie Willmott supplies the ammunition for the front two from the right wing.

And, despite his loss of form in the years after 2013, I’m fitting in Wembley star Christian Jolley on the left wing.

South Wales Argus:

Attack: Aaron O’Connor, Padraig Amond

Foley, Craig Reid, Chris Zebroski, Conor Washington, Scott Boden, Shawn McCoulsky, Antoine Semenyo and Jamille Matt all deserve a mention, but this was another easy selection.

Wembley goal hero Aaron O’Connor and FA Cup record-breaker Padraig Amond would form a lethal partnership to strike fear into any defence.

My County team of 2010-2019: Day; Butler, Demetriou, O'Brien, Pipe; Jolley, Sheehan, Byrne, Willmott; O'Connor, Amond

Manager: Justin Edinburgh

Do you agree with this selection? Let us know your Exiles team of the decade in our comments section.