New­port County saved their EFL sta­tus in dra­matic style

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Hughes

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.”

PICTURES: ProS­ports

SHOUT IF YOU’RE STAY­ING UP: New­port play­ers cel­e­brate af­ter se­cur­ing their EFL sta­tus MAGIC: Mark O’Brien scores

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