JANUARY is widely regarded to be the most depressing month of the year, but February was an absolute shocker for Newport County AFC.

The first month of 2020 saw the Exiles pick up 10 points from a possible 15 and progress in the Leasing.com Trophy.

Michael Flynn was even nominated for the League Two manager of the month award and it looked like another play-off push could yet be a possibility.

How quickly things change!

The shortest month of the year saw County play nine matches, winning two, drawing two and losing five.

But that only tells half the story.

One of those draws was the Trophy semi-final against Salford City, which ended in an agonising penalty shootout defeat at Rodney Parade as the dream of a return to Wembley was cruelly snuffed out.

The other draw was a frustrating 0-0 stalemate at home to Walsall, while the 1-0 win over Leicester City under-21s in the Trophy ultimately counted for nothing.

And the only victory in League Two, against Bradford City, was completely overshadowed by some moronic chanting from a small minority of home fans towards Stuart McCall.

One individual, who turned up at the game brandishing a Leeds United flag, was the ringleader and allegedly targeted the Bantams boss with some vile abuse.

While those who joined in with taunts that related to, but were not directly about, the 1985 Valley Parade fire disaster will likely land the club with a fine after the visitors rightly complained to the Football Association.

On top of all that, County lost at home to Cambridge United and on the road at Plymouth Argyle, Mansfield Town, Grimsby Town and Oldham Athletic to end any realistic hope of a top-seven finish this season.

South Wales Argus:

And Saturday’s loss at Boundary Park wasn’t just another defeat, it was a humiliation against a club in crisis.

Flynn admitted after the 5-0 thumping that he is now fighting to keep his job and, with social media flooded with calls for him to be sacked or resign, he’s since deleted his Twitter account.

The Exiles boss will certainly be glad to see the back of February and he’ll hope for a revival in March to help ease some of the pressure that is undoubtedly building on him.

Writing in this space two weeks ago, I argued that he’s earned the time to turn things around and I haven’t changed my mind on that front.

What he’s achieved over the past three years means he still has plenty of credit in the bank, as far as I’m concerned.

And the board of directors appear to share that view, as things stand.

But Flynn knows that he will ultimately be judged on results and, as his post-match comments on Saturday highlight, he’s fully aware that things need to improve quickly.

A record of just four wins in 21 league games since October is well below the standard we’ve come to expect since he replaced Graham Westley in March 2017.

South Wales Argus:

Raised expectations is one of the biggest problems that he faces and it’s one of his own making after last season’s remarkable run all the way to the play-off final at Wembley.

It was always going to be a tall order to repeat that feat, especially after losing key men like Joe Day, Dan Butler and Fraser Franks and big characters like David Pipe.

The likes of Tom King and Ryan Haynes started the season superbly, but their performance levels have dipped over recent months along with the majority of the squad.

And many of the other new arrivals last summer have not delivered the strength in depth that Flynn hoped for.

The brutal injury list has proved that and is another reason why County have slowly slipped down the table and out of contention for the play-offs.

They are now 16th but there is no prospect of a relegation battle – something many would have been grateful for just a few short years ago.

And it’s illogical to say that County would be in the drop zone if it wasn’t for their fine start to the season.

It was Flynn and these same players who won seven matches out of 13 up to October 19. Do those 26 points not count?

They’ve proved that they can be competitive at this level and they need to do so again to end the season on a high, or at least not on a negative spiral.

But if the current wretched run continues, it could get messy.

Read more: Dino Maamria backs Michael Flynn to turn things around at Newport County