PREVIEW: Newport County AFC v Luton Town

Like all early season pacesetters, Newport County are finally hitting their blip, and in quite some style too, writes Mike Simmonds

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 11th December 2012, 8:53 am

After a stunning start to the campaign where they swept all before them, County have won just twice in their last 10 league and cup games.

The league form has been the most worrying with home losses to Woking and Hyde, plus defeats at Alfreton and Kidderminster, means they have taken just six points from a possible 18.

Sandwiched in between was a reverse to Welling in the FA Trophy as Justin Edindburgh’s men have dropped down to third in the table.

With such a changearound in form, the boss conceded he might make changes after Saturday’s 3-2 reverse at Kidderminster, as he said: “We’ve let ourselves down immensely to concede three headed goals the way we have.

“It’s not three headed goals from three great crosses, some of them have come down with snow on them and it’s bad defending, as simple as that.

“The people marking have got to be stronger, those goals should never have been conceded.

“There is a possibility of changing personnel at the back, it’s something I’ve got to think about.

“It wasn’t collective bad defending, the goals came from individual mistakes and I have to decide whether to change things around or give those individuals a chance to put things right.”

The current run is in stark contract to their early season form as Newport won their opening five matches, before back to back defeats and a draw were followed up by another five wins from six.

There had been plenty of change in the summer, and not just on the pitch either as EuroMillions lottery winner Les Scadding and lifelong Newport fan was appointed chairman in August after winning the £45.5m jackpot with his wife in 2009.

Meanwhile, the club relocated to Rodney Parade from their Spytty Park home.

The Exiles struck up a three-year-deal to move to the home of Newport Gwent Dragons regional rugby side and Newport Rugby Club, but also negotiated a clause that allowed them to return to their former ground if things didn’t work out as planned.

On the football side of things, Edinburgh strengthened the squad immeasurably, bringing in the likes of Hatters duo Aaron O’Connor and Danny Crows, plus Ryan Charles, Alan Julian, Tony James, Michael Flynn and Lenny Pidgeley.

The boss also kept the spine of the team in place too as Andy Sandell, Ismail Yakubu, David Pipe all remained, with

Before he threatened further changes last week, County had swooped to sign AFC Wimbledon winger Christian Jolley while centre half Byron Anthony joined on loan from Gloucester City, with strikers Jefferson Louis, Ryan Charles and Jake Harris all transfer-listed.

Team news: Edinburgh has both Byron Anthony and Andrew Hughes fit and available for the squad once more.

Town are without the suspended Janos Kovacs, but Dean Beckwith and Alex Lacey are expected to be fit, leaving just Garry Richards and Danny Spiller out.

Top BSBP scorer: Exiles – Aaron O’Connor (14). Hatters - Stuart Fleetwood (10).

Man in the middle: Roy Whitton - already taken two Luton game this season, both at Kenilworth Road, the 4-1 win over Macclesfield and 1-1 FA Cup draw with Nuneaton, while he officiated County’s 6-2 hammering of Cambridge.

Whitton has shown 24 yellows in nine games with one red so far too.

He is something of a good omen for the Hatters as the five other games he has taken have ended in Luton victories over Kettering (5-0), Bath City (2-0), AFC Wimbledon (3-0) and Crawley Town (3-0).

In charge: Justin Edinburgh - 42-year-old who had fine career as a left back, making his name at Spurs after joining for £150,000 from Southend.

Earned an FA Cup winners medal and League Cup winners medal despite being sent off in the final, and made almost 200 appearances, before joining Portsmouth for £175,000.

Moved to non-league Billericay Town as player-manager in July 2003, before retiring from playing and taking over at Fisher.

Became Grays Athletic assistant boss and then first team boss in January 2007, but resigned in February 2008 and had a spell at Woking.

Appointed caretaker boss at Rushden before taking the job permanently in April 2009, leading his side to the Conference play-offs, but left when the club went into liquidation.

Became Newport boss on October 4, 2011 after Anthony Hudson departed with the team in 23rd place and led them to safety, plus the FA Trophy final, which they lost to York City.

Won manager of the month in August after Newport won all five of their opening matches.

View from the opposition: Justin Edinburgh: “The first half (against Kidderminster) was the best we’ve played all season and in my time at the club but we’ve lost the game. Luckily we have a chance to put that right on Tuesday.

“It should be a cracking night on Tuesday and we’ve got to try and put things right in front of our own fans.”

One to watch: Aaron O’Connor. 29-year-old forward who was Gary Brabin’s second signing last summer, joining from Rushden & Diamonds on a free transfer.

Made 39 appearances and scored nine times for Luton, before falling out favour under Paul Buckle and moving to Newport on a free.

Has been in scintillating form since leaving Town though, scoring 14 league goals so far. Netted five in his first three and then 10 in his opening 14 matches, although has found goals slightly harder to come by recently and has gone three game without hitting the target.

Friendly faces: Striker Danny Crow played 70 times for Hatters, netting 17 goals before his free transfer move to Newport. He has scored twice in 14 league games so far, but is out of tonight’s match with injury.

Fellow attacker Aaron O’Connor also made the switch, while former Town forward Ryan Charles was another summer signing.

Charles started his career with Town, making a handful of appearances, but has started one league game and made six substitute appearances this season.

We’ve got form: Hatters were 1-0 winners at Spytty Park last season courtesy of Danny Crow’s last-gasp effort.

Hatters: Kevin Pilkington, George Pilkington, Jake Howells, Curtis Osano, Jamie Hand, Janos Kovacs, Greg Taylor (Robbie Willmott 71), Alex Lawless, James Dance, Stuart Fleetwood (Danny Crow 77); Aaron O’Connor (Ryan Brunt 59).

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