MANAGER Michael Flynn says he wants Newport County AFC to keep going under the radar this season, but results and performances like Saturday’s 2-0 win at Swindon Town are making that pretty difficult.

It was always unlikely that County could retain their favoured tag of plucky underdogs after last season’s remarkable run to the play-off final.

And victories over Plymouth Argyle, Crewe Alexandra, Forest Green Rovers and now Swindon, as well as last week’s draw with leaders Exeter City, show that they should be taken seriously by their League Two rivals.

Leaving aside the play-offs, Flynn’s men have now lost just once in 21 league games and they have to be considered genuine promotion contenders.

The manager is currently refusing to even utter ‘the p word’ when he speaks to the media and, while he was effusive in his praise for the players after this win, he was determined to keep everyone’s feet on the ground.

Of course, it helps if bigger teams continue to underestimate ‘little old Newport County’ and Swindon may well have fallen into that trap.

Robins boss Richie Wellens is a good friend of Flynn and he heaped praise on his opposite number before the game, but he was less inclined to give the visitors credit after the final whistle.

Wellens felt his side failed to recover from losing captain Dion Conroy to what looked like a serious knee injury after he came off worse in an early 50-50 challenge with Joss Labadie.

“We lost it because we didn’t defend a set-play and didn’t react well enough to what was a horrendous situation,” he told the Swindon Advertiser.

“It was an horrendous start to the game under the circumstances and for 10 to 15 minutes after the incident, we let it affect us. It was like we went down to 10 men.”

South Wales Argus:

Mark O’Brien gave the Exiles a deserved lead in the 38th minute when he headed in Robbie Willmott’s corner and they could have extended their lead before the break.

The hosts started the second half well and should have levelled when Wales international Lloyd Isgrove beat Tom King but saw his shot cannon back off the bar just before the hour mark.

That was a big let-off, but County weathered the storm and Swindon appeared to lose their way and run out of ideas as the excellent Labadie, Willmott and Josh Sheehan frustrated them at every turn and O’Brien, Scot Bennett and Kyle Howkins dealt with everything thrown their way.

“We resorted to playing like Newport do – aimless long balls and punting the ball forward,” was Wellens’ assessment.

“We knew the only way Newport could probably score against us was from a set-play, so that was disappointing.

“We were excellent in the second half, but little things went against us.

“If Isgrove’s chance went in, I think we would’ve gone on to win the game.”

Possibly, but that would have been really harsh on County after a disciplined and determined display.

Jamille Matt and Tristan Abrahams, selected ahead of top scorer Padraig Amond, battled hard up front before Amond came off the bench to set up a beautifully crafted goal for Matt eight minutes from the end.

That sealed an immensely satisfying three points for Flynn and his team and signalled once again that they can mix it with the biggest and best sides in the fourth tier.


County: King; Howkins, Bennett, O’Brien; McNamara, Labadie (Dolan, 87), Sheehan, Willmott, Haynes; Abrahams (Amond, 72), Matt

Subs not used: Townsend, Nurse, Maloney, Whitely, Poleon

Booked: O’Brien

Referee: David Rock

Attendance: 7,843