With Newport County AFC out of action after EFL fixtures were suspended until at least April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’re dipping into the Argus archives to relive the club’s miraculous Great Escape from relegation three years on. Follow the action day-by-day as Michael Flynn’s men battle to beat the drop against all the odds…

First published on Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CARETAKER manager Michael Flynn insists Newport County AFC can still avoid relegation – if they cut out the “stupid schoolboy errors” that have proved so costly this season.

The Exiles conceded their 17th penalty – five more than any other side in League Two – and racked up a fifth red card of the campaign in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Luton Town at Rodney Parade.

Sid Nelson gave the visitors a head start by chopping down Danny Hylton in the box after only five minutes and Mark O’Brien picked up two yellow cards after Sean Rigg had levelled the match with a spectacular free-kick.

It was a performance that left Flynn with mixed emotions – pride at the hunger his players showed and the number of chances they created contrasted with anger at the indiscipline they also demonstrated once again.

“I said to them before the game ‘don’t give penalties away and don’t get sent off’ and we made it hard for ourselves again,” said the Exiles boss.

“It’s hard for referees but we seem to make it easy for them because we give them clear-cut penalties.

“I was fuming about that and 17 penalties is absolutely ridiculous.

“You can’t keep blaming the referees. You can’t keep saying it’s the referees making dodgy decisions.

“We’ve had a few but it was a clear-cut penalty and it was a definite sending off.

“Every game I’ve had with them the effort has been there but it’s just stupid schoolboy errors – penalties, red cards.

“It’s got to stop because we need 11 players on the pitch and we don’t need to be giving teams penalties – it’s hard enough without it, especially against teams as good as Luton and Blackpool.

“We’ve got to be more switched on mentally and stop giving teams advantages.”

South Wales Argus:

County are now six points behind 22nd-place Cheltenham with eight games to play, starting at third-placed Portsmouth on Saturday.

“We’ve got a tough game now at Portsmouth but when we came in we were four games behind the teams above us and now it’s down to two,” said Flynn.

“So that point could be crucial because we’re two behind and it could come down to goal difference.

“It’s not impossible but it is some mountain to climb.

“We’ve got some tough games coming up again but I’m confident, I believe in the players and the fight they’re showing and the chances they’re creating is very encouraging.

“If we can cut out the silly mistakes then we’re going to win a few more games and hopefully the teams above us have a crash.”

He added: “We’ve got seven out of 12 points. Would I have taken that before I came in? Probably.

“It closes the gap and we hope it puts the pressure on the other teams and they start feeling it.

“We’re always fighting and we’ll never stop fighting as long as I’m here, that’s for sure.”