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🔎 The Opposition: Newport County (H)

Jed Penberthy takes a look at Saturday's opponents

22 April 2021

Four games to go. Three points off the play-offs. Next up? The Club above us.

Exeter City host Newport County on Saturday with the winner having their destiny in their own hands.

Here’s all you need to know about the Exiles ahead of Saturday’s crucial encounter.

  • Founded: 1912
  • Nicknames: The Exiles
  • Honours: Division 3 South (1938/39), Welsh FA Cup (1979/80), Conference South (2010/11)
  • Home Kit: HUMMEL Amber shirts with Black trim, black shorts and amber socks.
  • Away Kit: HUMMEL White shirt with black cross design, white shorts and socks
  • Form: WDDLW (7th in League Two)

In 1912 Newport County were formed following a meeting at the Tredegar Arms Hotel as a replacement for the deformed Newport FC (1907).

The South Welsh city lies just off the Severn Estuary and is Exeter’s nearest League away trip this season. The City was founded after the Norman Invasion and in the height of the industrial revolution was Wales’ leading coal port. In 1963, Newport Rugby Club beat the touring New Zealand All Blacks. Newport was given city starts in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

The first season as Newport County was in the second division of the Southern League. In 1920, Newport were elected as founding members of Division Three. In 1938/39 Billy McCandless guided the Welsh outfit to their only Football League honour as the Exiles won the Division 3 title.

In 1980 Newport beat Shrewsbury Town 5-1 on aggregate to win the Welsh Cup after seeing off Cardiff City and Wrexham en-route. This qualified Newport for the European Cup Winner’s Cup where they were edged out in the Quarter Final’s by East German side Carl Zeiss Jena.

Just seven years later Newport were relegated out of the Football League, and in 1989 went out of business all-together and from the ashes Newport AFC were born. Starting down in the Hellenic League they eventually gained promotion to the Conference in 2011 and beat Wrexham in an all-Welsh tie in the 2013 play-off final.

Having topped the table for much of the season, County have dropped in form since key loan players such as Scott Twine, Saikou Janneh and Brandon Cooper all returned to their parent clubs in January. County are jolting their way to the finish offering a cagey affair ahead on Saturday.  

The Manager

Michael Flynn

Newport born and bred; Michael Flynn has been integral for the Exiles since the turn of the Century. As a youngster Flynn played for County and Barry Town before moving to England with Wigan Athletic.

MichaelFlynn.jpg

In his 400+ game playing career Flynn featured for Blackpool, Huddersfield, and Bradford before moving back to Wales.

The 40-year-old took the reigns at Newport in May 2017 and within a year earned a 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur and in October 2020 won the League Two manager of the month.

Stadium

  • Name: Rodney Parade
  • Capacity: 8,700 (7,850 for football)
  • Year opened: 1877
  • Record Attendance: 9,836 (vs Spurs, FA Cup Third Round 2018)
  • Address: Rodney Road, Newport, South Wales, NP19 0UU

RodneyParade.JPG

Owned by the Welsh Rugby Union, County moved into the multi-purpose Rodney Parade in 2012 and groundshare with Newport Gwent Dragons and Newport RFC.

The second oldest sports venue in the Football League (after Preston’s Deepdale), in the 1800’s the Parade was the Welsh Rugby home ground- and the stadium has hosted South Africa and New Zealand in Rugby Union matches early in the 20th Century.

In 2007 plans were drawn up and accepted to extend the stadium to 15,000 capacity though the capacity remains just under 9,000.

Sam Moakes’ One To Watch

Matthew Dolan

After a long run of tight matches and slender leads, Newport’s defence have looked capable even when the goalscoring hasn’t been consistent. Matthew Dolan, playing at the heart of a back three, is a major reason for this.

Having conceded just 41 goals in as many matches this year, only three sides have a better defensive record: second-placed Cheltenham and mid-table Salford and Stevenage.

Matthew Dolan .jpg

Newport’s number eight, who has filled in at the base defence this year, has been the club’s top performer in this area. Dolan has excelled at the back, but he is usually found in midfield in South Wales; such is the versatility of the former Bradford City and Yeovil Town man.

With 35 starts this year, Dolan has made himself un-droppable even when playing out of position, averaging a higher SofaScore rating than anyone else for the side. He has even scored six goals for Newport this campaign, including a brace in a 2-1 win against Bradford City, and is therefore the fourth highest scorer.

Sam Moakes picks out two other Exiles keen to make a difference on Saturday. Check them out here.  

Head-to-Head

It is even readings for Exeter City against all variations of Newport County. This will be the 127th meeting between the two clubs and almost 350 goals have been scored in that time.

Exeter City are unbeaten in the last four meetings. Like ourselves Newport are almost stumbling over the proverbial line making Saturday’s game the season defining moment for one of these teams.

  • Exeter City wins: 44
  • Draws: 37
  • Newport County wins: 45

Recent encounters

Newport County 1-1 Exeter City | League Two | 16 February 2021

The 9-men Grecians showed proud resilience to pick up a point at Rodney Parade. Ryan Bowman netted and saw Red as Newport’s late equaliser stripped Exeter of a memorable victory. 

Exeter City 1-0 Newport County, League Two, Boxing Day 2019

Lee Martin smashed home an early goal as Exeter claimed the Festive Cheer.

Exeter City 1-0 Newport County | League Two | St James Park | Boxing Day 2019.

Lee Martin smashed home an early goal as Exeter claimed the Festive Cheer.

Newport County 0-2 Exeter City | Leasing.com Trophy | Rodney Parade | October 8, 2019

Matt Jay stole the show with two wicked strikes in a mid-week cup encounter in South Wales.

Newport County 1-1 Exeter City | League Two | Rodney Parade | September 21, 2019

Lee Martin’s tap-in was cancelled out by former Grecian Tristian Abrahams second half penalty.

And Finally...

Although most club’s chose to kick off Saturday games at 3pm, after floodlights were fitted at Somerton Park, Newport would start games at 3:15 to allow steelworkers to attend. It was only following relegation to the Conference in the mid-80’s that County switched to three o’clock kick offs.

How to Watch 

Sadly fans can't be at the match but you can get the next best thing by purchasing a match pass at the cost of just £10 in the UK. The stream includes BBC Radio Devon commentary, score overlay and replays.

To purchase a match pass please click here.

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