MICHAEL Flynn will never forget his first visit to Plymouth Argyle as a manager, but he’s hoping today’s return trip to Home Park is memorable for altogether different reasons.

Flynn was only nine games into his reign as Newport County AFC boss when they were thrashed 6-1 by Argyle in April 2017.

As the hosts celebrated promotion to League One after their thumping victory, County were seemingly destined for relegation back to non-league football and an uncertain future.

The Exiles did, of course, go on to complete the Great Escape the following month and Flynn believes the lessons learned on that day helped him and his team to pull off that miracle and to progress in the intervening years.

“The last time we went to Plymouth wasn’t very exciting for Newport so let’s hope we can reverse that,” said the manager.

“We were in a relegation battle and they got promoted and we got hammered.

“It was a massive learning curve for me. In terms of what I learned as a manager that day, it was priceless.

“If you take the result out of it, as a manager and as a coaching staff, it was brilliant.

“Lennie [Lawrence] was brilliant that day. As a young manager getting hammered 6-1, you want to rant and rave but we had a chat and we drew a line under it because we needed them back for the Saturday.

“It was painful at the time but, as crazy as it sounds, there were a few positives after the game and it was a big part of us staying up.

“Everybody says the Exeter win was the turning point, but that game was as well.”

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Three years on, the Pilgrims are once again fighting for promotion to the third tier and Flynn expects them to go up again.

“Plymouth have gone up and come back down since then and it’s a big football club,” he said.

“I remember playing against them in the Championship, which goes to show how big they are.

“They are flying at the moment,” he added. “They’re a really good team with a good manager and they’ll want to be in the top three.

“I think, if you look at the business they’ve done, Swindon have gone all out for it.

“They’ve obviously backed Richie [Wellens] and I think he needs eight wins from the last 16 games to go up.

“It’s going to be tough to catch them, even for the likes of Plymouth. But they’ll expect to be in the top three.”

Flynn believes fourth-placed Plymouth are in a group who could clinch automatic promotion, while the Exiles are chasing a play-off spot.

“It’s up for grabs for a lot of teams,” he said.

“Plymouth are on a fantastic run. Colchester are on a fantastic run, Exeter have been on an unbelievable run.

“And Crewe are right up there. At the minute, you’d have to say it’s three out of those four [for the top three spots].

“Northampton and Bradford will be there or thereabouts as well.

“We’ll know where we fit in at the end of the season, but we’ll be giving it our best shot to finish on a high.

“I’m always optimistic. We’ve got to have a bit of luck along the way and make sure that no team has an easy game against us.

“We know we can compete with anyone and beat any of them, but we know we can also lose to them if we’re not right.”

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