FAIRY­TALE SIGHT BUT

Strug­gling County beaten

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By An­drew Parker

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.

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