Newport County's Michael Flynn would relish another Cup pay-day but says League is priority. Pic: Getty Images.

Newport County Take 18 Points In A Month But Michael Flynn Insists: We Can Get Better

By Robert Charbon

Brandon Cooper has earned the praise of his manager and paid back his Newport County team-mates for his miss in the Carabao Cup penalty shoot-out against Newcastle United.

The centre-back rose to head home the winner three minutes from time, earning a 2-1 victory at home against Harrogate Town.

His soaring strike at the far post converted an inch-percent corner from Scott Twine and hit the back of the net at the same end at which he had failed to score against the Premier League side last month.

It was Cooper’s first goal for the club since joining on loan from Swansea City and the perfect end to a largely frustrating afternoon against a Harrogate side that was reduced to 10 men after 40 minutes.

It was also made doubly valuable given Newport’s two nearest rivals, Cambridge United and Forest Green, both lost.

No wonder manager Michael Flynn was delighted to celebrate a record-equalling five league wins in a row and an amazing 18 points in a month.

His side now sit five points clear at the top of the table after 10 games.

“It was an unbelievable header – the timing, the delivery and the sheer determination to get on the end of it,” said Flynn.

 

“He’s lucky that he didn’t hit his head on the bar! He rose that high and aggressively, that was a proper header.

“I am over the moon – 10 games in and we’ve got 25 points. The players have done fantastically well but we can still improve.

“That’s the pleasing thing, we can still get better. With a bit of luck with injuries and suspensions, hopefully we can keep this run going.

“I’m not getting carried away at all because I know we can still improve. When we are hitting top form consistently and winning comfortably it will be harder for me to keep a lid on it.

“It’s 18 points in a month, which is unheard of here, and unheard of in most places, but while I’m really happy, I’m also realistic.”

The conditions made it difficult for both sides and Harrogate picked up two yellow cards in the first-half.

Lloyd Kerry was first into referee Paul Howard’s notebook after 14 minutes and then Josh Falkingham followed him eight minutes later.

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Worse was to follow for Falkingham after 40 minutes when he went down in the home penalty area and appealed for a penalty. Mr Howard was unimpressed by the appeal and eventually brandished a second yellow for simulation and sent-off the protesting Falkingham to leave Harrogate a man short.

By that stage they were already a goal down. Padraig Amond struck on the half-hour mark with a brilliant goal for the Exiles which began from a free kick.

Home skipper Josh Labadie fed Liam Shephard wide on the right with an inch perfect pass that split the Harrogate defensive line and the wing back slid the ball across the box for Amond to finish in style.

Two minutes earlier the Irish striker had forced James Belshaw to make a brilliant save to keep the scores level, but once the league leaders had taken the lead and were playing with an extra man there looked like being only one outcome.

Harrogate boss Simon Weaver made an immediate change after the red card and brought on Conor Kirby to replace Brendan Kiernan and would have been delighted to see his side’s response to Falkingham’s dismissal.

A minute before half-time they turned a corner into a goal. George Thomson’s perfect delivery to the far post enabled Dan Jones to rise high and head down and, as the ball bounced around a metre from the goal, in stepped Will Smith to prod it home.

 

Harrogate continued to frustrate Newport after the break and Kerry had a chance on his left foot just inside the home area, but shot over.

Flynn made two changes on the hour to try to find a way to break down the visiting defensive wall.

The two newcomers combined to create a chance that just landed on the roof of the net as Robbie Wilmott crossed for Jamie Proctor to showcase his aerial ability.

Harrogate had the ball in the back of the Newport net moments later from a free-kick, but Aaron Martin’s effort was ruled out for offside.

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