SURVIVAL was the target when Newport County AFC kicked off their League Two season in Scunthorpe but they start 2021 on top of the table.

The Exiles have been setting the pace since October 24, when an impressive 3-0 win in Bradford saw them regain their lead from Cambridge United.

Tuesday's postponed fixture against fellow promotion hopefuls Exeter City opened the door for Forest Green Rovers, only for them to fluff their lines with a 2-1 home loss to Crawley.

Third-placed Carlisle were losing 1-0 in the early stages at Harrogate when the game was abandoned.

Flynn has kept his squad grounded in the first half of the campaign, frequently stressing that it is only a good start, but admits it was not only a lift to lead at Christmas but heading into January as well.

South Wales Argus: Manager Michael Flynn was concentrating on survival at the start of the season in ScunthorpeManager Michael Flynn was concentrating on survival at the start of the season in Scunthorpe

"It was a big boost to the boys that the results went our way," said the manager, whose team have totted up 38 points from 20 games.

"It goes to show how hostile the league is – I didn't expect Forest Green to lose and others to drop points.

"But we've just got to concentrate on ourselves. I know that's a cliche but it's the only way that you can prepare.

"This season is unprecedented with the short spaces between games and the lack of training that you are able to do with boys that have played. It's a strange year but we are working hard to keep it going."

County are not only leading the way in League Two but they have provided a welcome financial boost with more cup exploits.

They stunned Swansea and Watford of the Championship to earn a Carabao Cup clash with Newcastle in front of the Sky Sports cameras, losing to the Premier League side on penalties.

South Wales Argus: Josh Sheehan on the ball against NewcastleJosh Sheehan on the ball against Newcastle

Next weekend another top-flight side will head to Newport with BT Sport providing another cash boost by picking the tie with Brighton and Hove Albion.

County's board budgeted for playing without fans in the stands until 2021 at the earliest, a move that seemed cautious in the summer months but one that has proved to be prudent.

Amid a challenging financial situation – albeit one not as perilous as many lower league counterparts – Flynn & Co have delivered on the pitch.

"Every season we have short, mid and long-term goals, that's a common thing for businesses or in sport," he said.

"We have surpassed the targets we set – and let's not dress it up, the main aim for the football club was to stay in the league.

"With the financial implications and the uncertainty of income, my aim was to keep us in the Football League and we are doing that at the minute."

Avoiding the drop was objective number one but the Exiles have earned the right to dream bigger, with the play-offs first target and then potentially automatic promotion.

"I want to keep improving and we want to finish on a high now," said Flynn. "We want to really give it a go."

Saturday's League Two fixtures: Barrow v Exeter, Bolton v Crawley, Colchester v Tranmere, Forest Green v Oldham, Grimsby v Cambridge, Harrogate v Cheltenham, Leyton Orient v Salford, Mansfield v Port Vale, Newport v Southend, Stevenage v Scunthorpe, Walsall v Carlisle.