FAIRYTALE SIGHT BUT
Struggling County beaten
FORMER Disney chief Michael Eisner is closing in on a takeover and Portsmouth finally look set to enjoy a happy ending to a League Two season following this latest victory.
Goals from Kyle Bennett and Kal Naismith either side of halftime put Pompey in charge at Fratton Park, but relegationthreatened Newport County ensured it was a nervy finale after Alex Samuel headed in with 15 minutes on the clock.
However, they saw the game out and Eisner Tweeted his congratulations after listening in on the victory from his Los Angeles base.
Manager Paul Cook saw his side move six points clear of fourth-placed Stevenage in the third and final automatic promotion spot.
With seven matches still to play Cook knows that nothing is settled yet, but his side look on course to win promotion at the fourth time of asking.
“The most important thing was to get the three points,” said Cook, who was celebrating his 100th match in charge of the South Coast club. “I’m not bothered how we did it. We had to find a way to win.
“I’ve seen plenty of development and progress since I’ve been here but there’s still work to.
“The dressing room’s flat because we wanted to play well. We got edgy towards the end but we got the result and, come 46 games, the league table will tell the story.
“We have seven to go and we’re in a good position. But nothing is written yet.
“We’re all going to get nervous at the end because we know what the prize is. We can reach out and touch it but it is not ours yet.
“Credit to Newport for giving us a fright but the lads stood up to it.
“We’re enjoying the position we’re in and we aim to finish it off. It’ll make so many people happy but we’ve achieved nothing yet.”
Newport caretaker boss Michael Flynn is also hoping for a fairytale ending to the season as he attempts to inspire his hometown club to beat the drop.
Flynn has seen his side pick up seven points in five games since he replaced Graham Westley earlier this month and there were more promising signs in this game.
The manager admitted his side were slow to get going and he was disappointed with the manner of the goals they conceded.
The first on 42 minutes stemmed from a misplaced pass from Ryan Bird that allowed Carl Baker to pick out Bennett, and the second just before the hour saw Naismith rise unchallenged to double the hosts’ advantage. But Newport produced plenty of fight in the closing stages and after Samuel had halved the deficit with a header following good work from substitute Mark Randall, they had the opportunities to force a draw with Samuel and Marlon Jackson both going close. And that never-say-die attitude gives Flynn hope for the battle ahead, with his side second from bottom and six points from Cheltenham and safety.
“We didn’t start playing until we went 2-0 down,” County boss Flynn said.
“I was disappointed with the goals we conceded but again the effort was there from the lads and we finished strong.
“If there was another five or ten minutes in the game we would have got the draw.
“I thought we had three big chances at the end and we should have taken one of them but the boys kept going and they were outstanding in the end.