KEVIN Ellison is still going strong in League Two with the help of yoga, and the veteran forward insists he’s very zen about life on the bench after Newport County AFC’s flying start to the season.

The 41-year-old was the last-gasp hero in the Exiles’ dramatic 1-0 win against Port Vale on Saturday, slamming home in the sixth minute of injury time at Rodney Parade.

Ellison headed for Newport this summer but is yet to start a league fixture, with four outings off the bench in League Two, another in the FA Cup and a pair of starts to help the academy talent in the EFL Trophy.

The Scouser could very well be given the impact sub role again versus Walsall on home soil on Tuesday night, and he understands why despite his gentle jibes at manager Michael Flynn after his late heroics against Vale.

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“It was a great way to get off the mark, a winner in the 96th minute, but I’m a team player and it was more about getting the result, three points and staying on the top of the league,” said Ellison, whose value to County isn’t purely measured on the field.

“I had a laugh and a joke, saying to him that he gave me six minutes so imagine what I could do if I was given more!

“But that’s just banter, I can’t expect to play because the lads have been unbelievable since the start of the season.

“I signed, then got injured and the boys have been a pleasure to watch. Sometimes when you sit as a substitute and are itching to get on, you think ‘it’s a terrible game, this’ but watching the way that they have played has been a pleasure.

“We’ve got no arguments, we can’t go knocking on the gaffer’s door because the team are winning most weeks and are top of the league.

“For us substitutes it’s about being ready and taking the chance when it comes.”

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With the physio’s room emptying, County’s strength in depth was shown against Vale by on-loan defender Aaron Lewis missing out on the matchday squad on his return from Wales Under-21s duty.

“Going forward as a club it’s great – we could have two teams and I reckon the ‘second team’ would do alright in League Two if I’m honest,” said Ellison.

“It’s a really strong squad and people are going to be upset because there are going to be times when we are left out and we are not even substitutes.

“There is competition for places and that helps the lads who are in the team, because it’s raising their game.

“We need that because from now through to mid-December it’s Saturdays and Tuesdays. There will be injuries and tired lads because they have played a lot of games but that means us substitutes have to be ready to make an impact.”

Ellison will be ready for action despite being older than Flynn as he continues a career that started before the millennium.

He is still making his mark thanks to adopting a different approach to the early days.

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He said: “I’m not going to let my secrets out! I do look after myself a lot better... I wash my hair more!

"No, I do yoga and swimming, although obviously not as much with lockdown,” said Ellison, who played for Leicester in the Premier League in 2001.

“I just do my recovery and look after myself a lot more, when I was younger I wasn’t really into drinking but if I did go out and have a drink then it didn’t affect me.

“Now if I had a drink I have four or five days of feeling terrible! I do look after myself more with yoga, biking and swimming.”

Ellison’s heroics against Vale would have led to some headaches in Newport on Sunday morning courtesy of Saturday night overindulgence.

The forward used to be a pantomime villain for Exiles supporters and he would have loved to have celebrated with them last weekend.

A feisty character on the pitch, Ellison believes the lack of crowds is harming his game.

“I have a bit of banter, even on social media, because it’s doing my head in that fans aren’t allowed in,” he said.

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“It’s a big part of my game, I do like to have a laugh and a joke with them. I know that by them giving me a bit of stick I get another 20 per cent out of it.

“Over the years, especially coming here to Rodney Parade as an opponent, it gave me a kick and a boost.

“Football is not the same without the fans because I would have been in there with my top off against Port Vale, I guarantee you.”

Ellison will hope that if he is called from the bench against Walsall then it will be to see out the game rather than look for a winner.

The Saddlers sit 15th in the table and have lost four on the spin in all competitions.

“Walsall lost at the weekend but they are always a nice footballing team and will come here and have a go at us,” said Ellison. “It’s about us putting in another good performance to stay top of the table.”