Rovers Next For Newport

I’ve just purchased our tickets to the Newport County versus Blackburn Rovers Emirates FA Cup 3rd Round tie to be played on Saturday, January 9.

 We’ll be going down to south Wales to ‘Support the Port’ in what will be a tricky tie for Rovers. The Championship side are currently mid-table and, if they take County for granted, could end up with egg on their faces.

We saw at Barnet, in their 1-0 win in Round 2, what a good footballing side John Sheridan has produced in his short time as boss of Newport.

Barnet, despite being the home side, were never really in the game, apart from one header that needed a goal line clearance late in the second half. Had that nestled in the corner and cancelled out Scott Boden’s looping header, it would’ve been an injustice.

Boden’s header sparked crazy scenes amongst the travelling County fans, who were in party mood throughout the game. Packed in a corner of Barnet’s tidy and tight little ground, fuelled by beverages from their own bar beneath the stand, the Exiles fans were in good voice. But when Boden scored – and dutifully came over to celebrate with the fans – the place went mental. Barnet’s supporters in contrast were extremely quiet. I don’t recall a single chant from them.

So with their passage to Round 3 secured, we continue our support and travel to Newport in the new year, hoping for an upset.

 The trip to Rodney Parade means another league ground can be ticked off my list. We couldn’t get to the Newport-Brackley replay so, thankfully, The Exiles got a home tie. It’s always good to visit the home of the team you’re backing.

Meanwhile, a few Blackburn fans on Twitter have been a little cocky about their team’s Third Round draw. They believe that it will be a walk in the park for Rovers. I think they may be surprised.




Will the Bees’ Knees Tremble or Will The Exiles Exit?

On Saturday, Mark and I head south again – we’re yet to go north (Clipstone was too near to home to be classed as ‘north’) – as our Quest team Newport County head to north Londoners Barnet for an all-important Emirates FA Cup Round Two match.

The winner of the tie progresses to the Third Round which, for some, especially for League Two sides, can be seen as ‘Their Cup Final’ if they pull out one of the big boys. Yes, after starting this Quest in August with South Normanton Athletic, we’re now just one game away from the third round draw; a huge date in English football’s calendar.

But first, there’s a game to be played, and it shall be played at Barnet’s swish ‘The Hive’ stadium near Canons Park, north London. Opened in 2009 by Sir Trevor Brooking and then England manager Fabio Capello, The Hive is tailor-made for The Bees. With a capacity of just over 5,000, the ground is neither too big nor too small for the club, who average around 2,100 supporters for home games.

They moved from their tired, sloping Underhill stadium in the summer of 2013, meaning that they moved out of their home borough of Barnet into the neighbouring borough of Harrow. In fact, the ground was originally planned to be the home of nearby Harrow club Wealdstone when the foundations where made back in 2004.

So if nothing else, at least we know we’ll be watching the game in a decent little ground complete with swanky bars selling beer at inflated prices.

But that’s enough about Barnet for now, as we’re ‘Supporting The Port’. Newport’s 4-1 victory over non-league Brackley Town in the First Round replay means that our allegiance lies with the Welsh club, who are expected to bring a sizeable support with them from south Wales.

Whether Goldie Lookin’ Chain – staunch County fans – or Newport-founded indie band Feeder will be in attendance is unconfirmed at the time of writing.

Newport are currently enjoying a bit of form, and are unbeaten in 9 games, including the two against Brackley. You have to go back to the 1-0 home defeat to Portsmouth on October 17th for their last defeat, as John Sheridan slowly but surely continues to turn things around at Rodney Parade following Terry Butcher’s departure.

Their last game, a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Luton Town at Rodney Parade, will see them brimming with confidence. However, 19-year-old Swansea loanee Oliver McBurnie – who scored all three goals against The Hatters – is ineligible, as his parent club don’t want him cup tied with him due to return to the Liberty Stadium at the beginning of January.

“He’s not our player and it’s not our decision. Swansea have said he can’t play,” County boss John Sheridan told the BBC this week.

“I knew that at the beginning of the week anyway so I’ve planned for it.”

Whatever plans they have, they’ll know that Barnet have failed to win any of their last four matches, and with only two points separating the sides in League Two, it promises to be a tight affair. Although this is the Cup, so anything could happen.

Anyway, we’ll be at The Hive tomorrow. Newport fans: if you hear two English accents amongst you, be kind, it’ll be Mark and I ‘Supporting the Port’.