Newport County saved their EFL status in dramatic style
ECSTATIC Newport boss Michael Flynn singled out the never-say-die spirit of his side as they dramatically saved themselves from relegation with a lastgasp winner against Notts County.
With 90 seconds of the season left to play the Exiles looked doomed to return to NonLeague football after a four-year stay in League Two.
Hartlepool’s remarkable fightback to beat title-chasing Doncaster Rovers meant they were on course to pip Newport to survival on goal difference.
But defender Mark O’Brien made himself a Newport legend as he smashed home the winner to spark wild celebrations at Rodney Parade.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” said caretaker boss Flynn, who is set to land the permanent role next week.
“I’m so happy for these fans, for myself, the players – they’ve been immense – for my family, my kids and my wife Victoria, who has supported me and picked me up when I’m down.
“And the board of directors deserve a massive amount of credit for taking some tough decisions, backing me and putting their faith in me.
“Everything they do is for the good of the club. They get some unfair criticism at times but they’ve been absolutely firstclass in everything they’ve done.”
It all looked to be going to plan for Flynn’s men as Mickey Demetriou put them ahead from the penalty spot in the 32nd minutes and Pools trailed against Doncaster. But Jorge Grant poked in to level on 62 minutes and set up a tense finale.
Then O’Brien’s heroics completed the Great Escape for Newport, who were 11 points from safety when Flynn replaced Graham Westley in March.
“It’s huge,” he added. “Everybody thought we were dead and buried.
“It was tense, it was scary, it was nerve-racking but we’re Newport County. We might not be the most polished club in the world but one thing we’ll always do is fight.
“I am hoping I am in charge. Since I have come in we have had a good record and it is a good opportunity for us next season.”
Notts County manager Kevin Nolan, who steered the Magpies to safety after his appointment in January and an eventual 16th-place finish, had mixed emotions.
“I am disappointed that we have not spoiled the party,” said the former Premier League star.
“I’m delighted for Flynny and Newport, but it is not how I wanted to end the season.
“I have been a part of a few escapes in the past, I have seen stuff like it. I am delighted for them and we will see
them next season.”
SHOUT IF YOU’RE STAYING UP: Newport players celebrate after securing their EFL status MAGIC: Mark O’Brien scores