Newport v Argyle: Top to Bottom Assessment

THE contrast between Argyle’s previous, and next, Sky Bet League Two games could scarcely be higher.

Following a home fixture in front of 13,500 against Portsmouth, expected to be in the end-of-season promotion shake-up, comes a trip to Newport County, bottom of the EFL, with only seven points to their name. 

Their tale so far this season is one of much woe. They have come five points adrift at the bottom of the league; they haven’t scored in the league since September 24; they have won just one game out of 14 in all competitions; they have sacked manager, former Pilgrim Warren Feeney. 

It all sounds bleak, but then this is football, where odd tales are written, and even the league leaders, when buzzing, travelling to the bottom side, struggling, is nothing like a foregone conclusion. And neither should it be. 

The case for Newport’s defence, then: they do have two games in hand on virtually everyone else in the division; they have recently appointed experienced manager Graham Westley, and it is a truism that teams experience boost when a new boss comes in; they have played fewer home games than most teams. 

The last point stands a bit of scrutiny. Newport’s home record, in all competitions, is played six, lost four, drawn two. However, three of those four defeats have been by virtue of a late winner – no team has visited Rodney Parade and blown the exiles away. 

Enough downers; Argyle will need to take confidence from everything that has happened since August 13. On that day, the Pilgrims lost 1-0 at Carlisle, while Newport were winning 1-0 at Leyton Orient. 

Since then, Newport have not won any of their nine League Two games. Argyle have not lost any of their 11, winning nine, including the last five on the road. 

Therefore confidence, not complacency, is the current Home Park mantra. 

“There will not be any complacency,” said Derek Adams. “Going to Newport when they have nothing to lose in the game, they have everything to gain, causes its own problems. We have been in a very good run of form and to continue by doing that we will have to play at a very high standard.

“We have seen that already this season. The teams we have played against. We have difficult games but we have coped well with it. 

“There is always pressure; any game that you go into there is a pressure, but we are happy with that because you want to have pressure to do well.  

“We have handled it very well and we will have to do that on Saturday because we are going to a team that are bottom of the league, that have changed manager and we will have to be right on the front foot to start with.”

Assistant manager Craig Brewster agreed with the boss, and believes the boys have the capabilities to live up to ever-growing expectations. 

“In football the expectations are the big thing,” said Craig. “You are expected to go there and win. We know we are a strong unit and that if we perform well, we are a match for anybody. We’ll go there positive, and if people are on form, we’ve got a great chance of winning. 

“They’ve got a new manager, and they’ll get a lift from that, but we can only concentrate on ourselves. We need to make sure everything we do is positive. 

“The size of club that we are, and the fans that come to the games, we need to get momentum going, and then every game that passes by, the momentum keeps going and the confidence builds. 

“We’ve got good players, simple as that. They work hard for each other, and it is all about performing, every game that comes. We know that if we perform well, we’re a test for anybody. 

“Our aim is to stay ahead, in every week that goes by. The guys are in a good place, and it’s up to us to produce on the day.”