Saturday, August 10th 2013
Two defeats to kick off the season and more questions than answers for the Cobblers so far and now we must try to get off the mark against a Newport County team buzzing from a stunning opening to their first campaign back in the Football League.
Since culminating a twenty five year journey back to the league with a Playoff Final victory over Wrexham back in May, the Exiles have returned with a bang thanks to two eye catching results. First, a 4-1 romp over James Beattie’s Accrington Stanley kicked off the league season in style last weekend with new signing Chris Zebroski netting a brace.
And that wasn’t the end of a perfect first few days for the club as they went to Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday night and came through 3-1 after extra-time to win a place in Round Two of the Capital One Cup. That result set up a Second Round tie at Premier League side West Bromwich Albion but Justin Edinburgh’s side will be looking to keep up the positive league start first and foremost, beginning at Sixfields on Saturday afternoon.
Edinburgh, previously known in the county for his tenure at Rushden and Diamonds, has led County into the league and is slowly making a name for himself in management having played at the top level with Tottenham Hotspur. This is his first shot at management in the Football League and it’s one he’s settling into well so far.
All of that points to a tough first home league game for the Cobblers and if we’re to get off the mark in League Two it’s going to take a big effort as the season begins to roll out.
The Cobblers welcomed back Chris Hackett and Clive Platt to training this week but neither will be risked for this game. Darren Carter should come back in after serving a one match ban against MK Dons so Aidy Boothroyd will need to decide on whether to stick with the 4-5-1 formation favoured at York or to revert to the 4-4-2 used on Tuesday night in which JJ Hooper made a first start for the club. Town could also hand a debut to Jacob Blyth after the Leicester City striker signed a one month loan deal on Friday afternoon.
Newport will be without Byron Anthony who was captaining the side at Brighton on Tuesday but was stretchered off with a double fracture of his right ankle after a challenge from Inigo Calderon. (More to follow)
The two sides have never met during the last twenty five years and this ‘version’ of Newport County with the last game between the two clubs coming in the 1977/78 F.A. Cup when the Cobblers were 2-1 winners at the old County Ground. Town would exit the competition in the next round at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.
The man in the middle…
The official taking charge on Saturday at Sixfields is Mark Heywood who last refereed a Cobblers game in a 3-2 home defeat by Cheltenham Town in August 2011.
Newport are coming into this with bags of confidence after their landmark week back in the Football League and in the Capital One Cup. We have to blast away those Wembley blues and though it’s going to be a really tough game I think we can nick this to finally get up and running. 2-1