ewport County begin their Easter double-header against high-flying Bury as they look to continue their good run of form and maintain their play-off push.
Saturday's comfortable 3-0 win over Cambridge United extended their unbeaten run to five matches. Joe Day's third consecutive clean sheet was County's 20th of the season; in fact, County have only conceded a single goal at Rodney Parade since the turn of the year. It is this sort of run that manager Mike Flynn called for earlier in the season as they look to book a place in the top seven come early May. In fact, no team in the league has taken more points than County over the last five matches.
Flynn said of the Cambridge game, "It was a really goodperformance; 3 points but that's it. We moved on straight away.We've got a big weekend in front of us."
Jamille Matt and Padraig Amond have now scored a combined total of 40 goals this season and while the question can still be posed as to where else in the team goals could come from moving forward, their partnership is one that has lit up League Two this term. Exiles' fans will be hoping at least one of them is able to get the job done once more as they host a side whose win on Saturday halted a slide of just one victory in six matches.
The two sides drew 1-1 in October, where "Jamma" was on target to cancel out an earlier Nicky Maynard strike, but Bury have kicked on - recent slump notwithstanding - and their undoubted quality in all areas have them right in the thick of the automatic promotion race.
And Flynn knows that Bury's off field issues are unlikely to hamper matters on it. He said of Friday's opposition, "I expect a very very tough game. They've got a good young manager in Ryan Lowe, they got some very very talented players and they're up there [in the table] for a good reason. Nothing more than our best is going to be enough."
Danny Mayor is back from suspension for the visit to Rodney Parade and he has attracted a lot of complimentary talk, not least from Flynn himself. He said of the Bury midfielder, "He's the best player in the league for me. He's an exceptional talent; I don't know why he isn't playing higher [up the leagues] - he should be."
Flynn remained coy about squad availability but it is thought that the only real headache could be that of Joss Labadie. It is likely that County will remain without a back-up goalkeeper unless an emergency loan can be sourced. This was a subject that didn't seem to phase the boss, as he stated, "It gives us another opportunity to put an outfield player on the bench and give us more option if we need to hold on to a game or chase a game."
Three wins from the last five matches is probably a minimum requirement for County now and with tough home games still to come, that is a tall order. But so were Leicester and Middlesbrough in January; they can spring big results when it gets tough. And their situation may not get tougher than this...win and they're still alive, lose and the push may be over.
Prediction: Newport County 1-1 Bury
I will be tweeting updates from Rodney Parade on Friday afternoon; give me a follow on @DanielFrazer7 to stay up to date!