Pompey v Newport County: The Insider
Up until Tuesday night it had been going really well under Warren Feeney.
Yet Newport are still 11 points clear of the relegation zone, and that is a remarkable improvement on where they were at the start of the season.
This week they lost 3-0 at home to Barnet. They had been poor at Crawley the previous midweek match – it was even worse against Martin Allen’s side.
Perhaps a bit of complacency had crept in, but I am sure it is the shock they needed.
They started the campaign under Terry Butcher looking like they were heading only one way – and that was back to the National League.
He was sacked in October, within 24 hours of the supporters’ trust taking over a club bottom of League Two and having been beaten by fellow strugglers Crawley 3-0.
It was John Sheridan who was the instigator to the improvement, helping them climb off the foot of the table during an unbeaten 10-match run.
In fairness, he received a bit more backing from the board than Butcher, who was working on a shoestring budget.
Yet it was a case of needs must and money was found to fund a few experienced loan signings to kick-start the side.
Under Sheridan, Newport even reached the FA Cup third round for the first time in 30 years, before he left for Oldham in January.
The ex-Sheffield Wednesday midfielder always said he wanted to work closer to his home in the north – and that meant his assistant taking over.
Feeney has been the Exiles’ third manager this season and carried on the good work.
The manager might not say it, but they are now safe barring an extraordinary collapse.
He arrived from Linfield to serve alongside Sheridan, and the idea was he would take over as successor in the summer.
That promotion has come early and it has been so far, so good.
Looking at the players, Scott Boden has scored every Newport goal since January 26.
That’s six goals in seven games during a total of 14 since Butcher signed him from Halifax last summer.
The 26-year-old is a poacher, popping up in the right place and at the right time to score.
A lot of hard work is carried out by strike partner Conor Wilkinson, who has been the star man in the last few weeks.
Hard-working skipper Mark Byrne has been the most consistent performer, and has an eye for goal.