Newport County v West Ham United

Preview Percy has just about recovered from the strain on his heart caused by Ben Stokes' heroics at Headingley the other day. He's hoping for a a less stressful time of it in the League Cup this week. Here's his look at Tuesday's trip to Newport County.....

It's three away trips on the trot as we dust off our passports and check our vaccinations for a trip over one of the Severn Bridges or, if you prefer, through the tunnel to Newport County. It's the League Cup - regular readers will remember my rule of not mentioning sponsors' names unless they send me samples of their product. And in the case of the League Cup's current sponsors, they needn't bother.

Kick-off is 7:45pm and, if required, penalties are available to determine the tie after the 90 minutes are up - no extra time.

So Newport then. This is the reformed version of the original club that was set up in 1912. The high spot of their League life was promotion to the old Division 2. However, the timing of the promotion is probably best described as "unfortunate", coming as it did a few months prior to the start of WWII. Any momentum gained had well and truly gone by 1946-47 when competition was restored and they were duly relegated to the third tier, their season including a 13-0 defeat at Newcastle, a match that is believed to mark the first sighting of the old "they were lucky to get nil" gag, courtesy of Newcastle's Len Shackleton.

Apart from that they bumped around the lower two divisions for most of their life with the big highlight being their Cup-Winners Cup run in 1980-81 - they got beaten by Carl Zeiss Jena at the same stage of the competition as us. Their conquerors lost in the final to our conquerors, Dinamo Tiblisi whose defeat of us at the Boleyn remains one of the finest displays I've ever seen from a visiting team.

The wheels finally fell off in 1988 when their second successive relegation saw them exit the Football League. They struggled through three-quarters of the following Conference season before their debts got the better of them and they folded in February of that year.

Which is where things might have ended but for a few hundred supporters who set up a Supporters' Trust. Back rent owed to Newport Council for the use of Somerton Park meant them playing home matches in Gloucestershire - giving them their Exiles nickname that is still used in some quarters to this day. Further hurdles were placed in their way by the Welsh FA who tried to force them into the then fledgling League Of Wales. It took legal action for them to preserve their status in the English system whilst allowing them to play back in Newport.

They moved through the Conference levels and a 2-0 win over Wrexham at Wembley in the 2013 play-offs saw them return to the Football League after a quarter of a century away. Last term they missed out on promotion going down 1-0 AET to Tranmere in the play-off final at Wembley. They garnered a few more headlines though for their FA Cup exploits where, following the defeat of Metropolitan Police in the first round they prevailed 4-0 over compatriots Wrexham in a replay after a 0-0 draw at the Racecourse. This earnt them a home tie against Leicester. Having led since the 10th minute the Foxes' 82nd minute equaliser must have felt a bit of a sickener at the time. However Leicester conceded a late penalty which was duly converted by Padraig Amond to give them a Premier League scalp. They dispatched Boro' 2-0 in a replay after a 1-1 draw in what some wags referred to as the Transporter Bridge Derby before going out 4-1 to eventual winners Man City, though the 4-1 scoreline was slightly misleading, the latter two goals coming as they did in the dying embers of the match.

So they have a bit of Cup Pedigree then, though manager Michael Flynn is not over enamoured of this particular trophy - he was quoted as asking fans to save their money rather than travel to Gillingham for the last round as he "wasn't taking it seriously".

If anyone still does the pools you could do worse than have a look at their fixtures each week Unbeaten this season in the league they have drawn three of the five games played thus far. Their first win of the season came against a Plymouth Argyle side who chalked up a possession stat in excess of 70% in losing 1-0.

Even their League Cup victory over Gillingham came courtesy of "kicks from the penalty mark" as the laws of the game used to call them. They came within a few seconds of another draw at the weekend. Amonde pinched a winner in the 93rd minute against a Crewe side who, like the Pilgrims before them, had the lion's share of the ball.

Boss Flynn was pragmatic about the win, admitting that his side were "really poor going forward". Whatever the niceties of the game itself, the three points gave Newport a spot in the play-off zone, leap-frogging Crewe on goal difference in the progress.

In fact they are a team not overly used to defeat. Not counting the play-offs they haven't lost in the league since March. They do have a developing injury situation at present. Defender Mickey Demetriou who has barely missed a game over the past few seasons sadly broke a leg in the victory over Plymouth. He will be out for a few months at least. A number of other knocks has left them a little low on cover at the back. It was even suggested that Flynn might call on his old schoolmate James Collins, what with Ginge being a free agent and all having left Ipswich. Flynn however played down the likelihood of a return for Ginge to his home town, suggesting that Collins had it in him to play much higher. Similarly, it seems that there are no plans to sign Wilfried Bony who, having been released by Swansea, spent a few days training with the Exiles earlier this month.

And so to us. Much has been made of Watford's spurning of chances. But thinking back I don't recall Fabianski actually having too many saves to make. Frankly, even when they had the goal at their mercy their finishing was such that we could all have gone down the pub for a cooling libation, Fab included. Hughes' miss was particularly amusing. There was much to ponder - a midfield with Yarmolenko, Lanzini and Anderson is never going to be noted for its propensity to track back. However, they could have made more of an effort surely - the skipper certainly thought so and made his point on a couple of occasions in no uncertain terms.

However, we weren't without chances of our own and once Antonio came on we started to look the more dangerous of the two sides. Haller's brace were a pleasant way for him to open his account. The spectacular flick that nearly came off in the first half would have been a nice way of starting a hat-trick - the overhead kick for his second was routine by comparison.

The injury list comprises Chicharito and Reid. Hernandez is actually a doubt for the weekend. However, as is the nature of these things, many of those considered as first team selections are likely to have their feet up for this one. This would mean a first start for Roberto and the likes of Coventry, Holland and Johnson seeing some game time. Maybe, at the other end of the age scale, Zabaleta may be given a chance to give the hamstrings a stretch. Either way there are likely to by myriad changes to the Xi that took the field at Vicarage Road.

All of which makes a prediction slightly difficult. We saw what happened at both extremes of the banana skin spectrum last season at AFC Wimbledon. I am going to err on the side of cautious optimism this one. If we go in with the right attitude we ought to win so with fingers firmly crossed I am going to plump for a slightly nervy and not as comfortable as it looks away win. So the ?2.50 I was going to place on an England win in the Headingley test will be placed using the Winstones Turf Accountancy app (when the fun stops you've got Stokes plumb but have used up your review on the stupidest of wild goose chases) on 3-1 to us.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met In Wales Isn't it: Lost 2-1 (FA Cup 3rd Round January 1979)

1979 eh. That's 40 years ago. So long ago there probably wasn't a sale on at Allied Carpets. 14,000 spectators were inside Somerton Park. Their average gate that season was under 4,000. This was before the days of fielding the kids in the early rounds of the cups so it was a strong XI fielded by John Lyall, including Martin, Bonds, Lampard (snr), Brooking, Devonshire and a front three (!) of Cross, Robson and Alan Taylor. So, obviously we lost. Woods opened the scoring for the home side. Pop equalised before Goddard sent them through to the fourth round, where they were knocked out after a replay by Colchester. We did better in next year's Cup.

Referee: Steve Martin

As usual we get a Football League official at this stage of the competition. Preview Alastair was not impressed with him when the Geordies played Forest in the same competition a few years back. If it had occurred to him he'd probably have referred to Martin as "the Jerk". But it didn't.


Danger Man: Padraig Amond

A veteran of last season's Cup run he actually finished joint top scorer in the competition with some guy called Aguero.



Percy's Poser

Last time out asked you: What is located at Northwestern Avenue in Watford, and what dubious title did the Hertfordshire Mercury award it?

A hearty "hurrah" to Mrs Genevive Wildebeeste of Corringham who correctly pointed out that Northwestern Avenue plays host to a branch of McDonalds which the Mercury considers to be "Hertfordshire's Worst". Presumably they left the gherkin out of their Big Macs or something.

This week we go to the South Wales Argus and we return to the missing words round format. Identify the missing band name from the following headline:

"XXXXXXXXXXXXX and more big names to perform in Newport this autumn"

Best of luck!


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