BOSS Michael Flynn has hailed his workaholic forwards for helping Newport County AFC develop a miserly streak that has put them on the brink of the play-offs.

The fifth-placed Exiles head to Southend on Saturday needing a point to secure a place in the top seven.

It will be a nervous last day with Tranmere Rovers, Forest Green and Exeter City able to overtake them but County have put themselves in the driving seat thanks to a run of three wins and a draw from their last four fixtures.

Flynn has named the same team on each occasion and been rewarded with clean sheets against Crawley, Exeter, Scunthorpe and leaders Cheltenham.

Goalkeeper Tom King is yet to concede since his recall while Liam Shephard has shifted to central defence impressively to join Scot Bennett and Mickey Demetriou.

However, Flynn was quick to stress it has been an 11-man effort with the strike partnership of veteran Padraig Amond and teenager Lewis Collins setting the tone.

Ben Tozer of Cheltenham Town is tackled by Lewis Collins of Newport County.

Ben Tozer of Cheltenham Town is tackled by Lewis Collins of Newport County.

"We are defending well but it actually all starts from the front. The work that the front two did against Cheltenham was phenomenal," said the manager.

"They put pressure on the opposition and keep them pinned back, they can't get their clearances as they want them. It's a team game and the forwards have definitely put a shift in for the defence."

Collins' display was all the more impressive after he suffered a pre-game blow at Rodney Parade with the 19-year-old, who turns 20 on Sunday, receiving treatment a number of times until eventually making way for Nicky Maynard at the death.

"Lewis did well. He hurt himself in the warm-up and I've had to give him a bit of tough love at times, telling him to get up and stop feeling sorry for himself, but his work rate was immense," said Flynn.

Demetriou featured prominently in the clean sheet against title-chasing Cheltenham with the veteran centre-back putting in some dominant headers at the visitors went direct.

Newport Countys Mickey Demetriou (right) and Cheltenham Towns Indiana Vassilev battle for the ball during the Sky Bet League Two match at Rodney Parade

Newport County's Mickey Demetriou (right) and Cheltenham Town's Indiana Vassilev battle for the ball during the Sky Bet League Two match at Rodney Parade

The 31-year-old has been in fine form since returning from suspension for a red card at Barrow, a game to forget when he was also at fault for the goals in a 2-1 defeat.

"That's what good pros do, they bounce back after a dodgy spell, which is what Mickey had," said Flynn. "He showed his professionalism and his desire to do well."

County head to Southend with work still to do in their bid for the top seven after Exeter's injury time winner at Bolton.

Had the Trotters held on then Flynn would have been able to tinker with his team, both to protect some players for the play-offs and give opportunities to others that have watched on from the sideline in recent weeks.

"It's a shame because I would have given one or two players games and it would have been good to get them up to speed," said Flynn.

"But it is what it is, nobody is going to just lie down and let us get into the play-offs. We need to earn it and did the first part against Cheltenham, now we need to do the second part at Southend."