Virtually everybody in Newport and farther afield seem to be talking about the big cup tie, but manager Michael Flynn and his players dare not look beyond MK Dons.
County’s 1-0 home win against Mansfield Town was a start, but only a start.
Tickets for the Manchester City tie, now less than a week away, are sold out and excitement about that occasion at Rodney Parade could scarcely be higher.
Flynn’s task, though, is to ensure his team are focused on MK Dons and building momentum in their bid to climb League Two.
Robbie Willmott scored Newport’s 15th minute winner against title-chasing Mansfield and Flynn said: “That’s my most satisfying win of the season.
“People probably won’t believe that because we’ve beaten Leicester and Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.
“But as a group of professional footballers the way that they fought was my most satisfying win.
“They make me proud and I won’t get tired of saying that. This performance was first class, professional and resilient.
“The boys were excellent.”
Flynn named an unchanged starting line-up from the cup win against Middlesbrough in midweek and they produced an outstanding team display on a heavy pitch which drained the energy.
Newport’s winner came from a beautifully planned corner routine with Padraig Amond flicking the ball for Willmott to fire home.
It was a fitting way to cap a week in which Willmott scored a crucial goal against Boro, signed a new contract with County and then netted the winner against Mansfield.
Joss Labadie completed his first 90 minutes almost a year, underlining his progress on the way back to full fitness after an anterior cruciate ligament knee injury.
Newport set up in a 4-4-2 formation against a Mansfield team who had lost only two of their last 24 league and cup matches.
Regan Poole was excellent in the back four, making good decisions, picking the right passes and cutting out danger with his tackles.
The incident which marred an otherwise good afternoon for Newport was a horror injury to Stags striker Danny Rose. He suffered a suspected broken jaw which blocked his airway and that led to a delay which mean 11 minutes was added on at the end of the contest.
— Nickynackynoo (@nicnacnoopixs) February 9, 2019
Mansfield centre-half Krystian Pearce almost broke County hearts in the fifth minute of the added extras when his header narrowly crept past the far post, but this was another immense team performance from the Exiles and nothing was going to stop them getting all three points at Rodney Parade.
“I hope Danny Rose is okay because it didn’t look too good,” said Flynn.”That disrupted the game a little bit but I just hope he’s okay.”
Newport County AFC (4-4-2): Day, Butler, O’Brien (capt), Demetriou, Poole, Bakinson, Labadie, Bennett, Willmott (Dolan 88), Amond, Matt. Subs not used: Townsend, Marsh-Brown, Sheehan, Kennedy, Forbes, Crofts.
Mansfield Town (3-4-1-2): Smith, Sweeney, Pearce, Preston, Benning (Khan 45), Hamilton, Bishop, Mellis, Grant, Ajose (Rose 45) (Tomlinson 53), Walker. Subs not used: Logan, Atkinson, Jones, Smith
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 3,133 (362 away)