NEWPORT County AFC have been backed for glory in the League Two play-offs by double Wembley winner Phil Brown, who has declared the Exiles can go up a gear.

County will face Forest Green Rovers in the semi-finals next week after they endured a nervy last day of the regular season courtesy of Brown.

Southend, who finished the season strongly after appointing the experienced manager with six games to go, had the better of a 1-1 draw at Roots Hall.

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The Shrimpers struck first, missed a golden chance to double the lead and then saw a penalty saved after the Exiles had equalised.

County got the point that they needed to guarantee a top-seven finish and Brown, who enjoyed play-off success when leading Hull City to the Premier League in 2008 and Southend to League One in 2015, believes we will see a different side at Rodney Parade on Tuesday.

The 61-year-old is doing the League Managers Association's diploma in football management alongside Michael Flynn and sees elements of the boss in his side.

TIGHT: Michael Flynn is relieved after Countys draw against Phil Browns Southend

TIGHT: Michael Flynn is relieved after County's draw against Phil Brown's Southend

"I've admired Flynny for a long, long time," said Brown. "He's a feisty character and you'd go into the trenches with him… and you wouldn't want to be in the trenches against him!

"His teams play that way – they are ready for a battle but also play good football.

"I don't want to put too much of a burden on them but I think they will get there. I witnessed Forest Green against Barrow and they are a decent side but lost the physical battle.

"It should be a good game but I fully expect Newport to win over two games and then anything can happen in the final."

Brown was, of course, talking to a Newport-based newspaper about the four play-off candidates so was naturally going to be polite about County.

However, the Exiles head into the play-off on a run of 11 points from their last six fixtures, two of which were against teams that have been promoted.

Flynn's men showed their quality when set the pace in League Two for the first half of the season before enduring a winter dip.

Southend manager Phil Brown

Southend manager Phil Brown

"All four teams deserve to be there but Newport can step up a gear. Against us they played at a level where possibly they had it in their heads that a point was good enough.

"If they have a winning mentality then they are capable of getting through the play-offs and getting promoted."

Brown, meanwhile, is plotting Southend's return to the Football League after they suffered back-to-back relegations.

The Shrimpers burgled a win at Rodney Parade in February and should have doubled the Exiles despite the blow of being relegated the previous weekend.

"It was a good game of football, Newport needed a result and I like it when there is something on a game," said Brown.

"We took four points of team that finished in the top seven. That's testament to how good our team can be, but also shows how inconsistent we have been."