ewport County travel to Morecambe on Saturday knowing that keeping their newly-regained play-off position is in their own hands as a win will guarantee them a top-seven berth come 5pm.
County are one of the form teams in League Two at the moment; their run of nine matches unbeaten includes seven clean sheets - which itself has won Joe Day the League Two Player of the Month awrd for April - on the back of a number of stoic defensive performances. Mark O'Brien's first goal in two years against Oldham Athletic on Tuesday night ensured that Mike Flynn's side travel North with the prospect of a play-off place a far cry fromwhere the club was at the time of his last strike.
Ever since Flynn - April's Manager of the Month - took over, he has sought to simply do the basics well and the results cannot be argued with. Yet ke knows that the trip to Lancashire will not be an easy one just because Morecambe's season is essentially already over. He said prior to the game, "I'm confident, I'm not arrogant and I'm not thinking too far ahead, but that means nothing. We've got to go and produce the goods."
Flynn remained his usual respectful self when it came to looking ahead to Morecambe. He said, "They’ve got a few threats. They’ve got Bennett, they’ve got Oliver. They’ve got a lot of good players and you can see why they’ve been on a good run of form. They’ve got a good group, who stick together – similar to ours, and they’ve got a good management team."
Jamille Matt returned to action for County on Tuesday following his dead leg injury and it is possible that Joss Labadie could do the same on Saturday; the Oldham game was too soon for him but following the removal of ten stitches from a gash in his ankle, he is in contention for a return at the Globe Arena.
County's, ahem, favourite pantomime villain Kevin Ellison has already begun the joviality on Twitter, sharing Harry Potter memes depicting himself as Lord Voldemort locked in an epic battle with the Exiles badge representing the young wizard. Ellison's record against County stands at six goals in 11 appearances and at the age of 40, is still incredibly fit and turns out performances that would be appreciated by players half his age.
The highs, the lows, the everything-in-betweens. They all come down to Game 46; a win guarantees it, a point may be enough. But whatever occurs, it's been a fantastic season for the Exiles and I hope the away following on Saturday is befitting of what is happening on the field. Up the County!
Prediction: Morecambe 1-2 Newport County