"At Severn’s mouth …
Scenes dear to memory …
The voice of Ebbw in his lovely park"
In our last five League 2 games we’ve scored two goals; we’ve contrived to lose at home to basket-case Southend United, and then surrendered to Cheltenham Town. Just when you think “it can’t get any worse” we have an away fixture at League 2 leaders Newport County who sit 3 points clear of said Cheltenham Town, with a game in hand (to add insult to injury). This is the Newport County who, it should be noted, went through such a dire financial crisis in the 1980’s that they suffered a double relegation costing them their Football League place in 1988 and went out of business in February 1989. Manager Michael Flynn has evidently got them singing from the same uncomplicated hymn sheet, with an impressive goal difference of +10 (20 scored, 10 conceded), and a glance at their current League 2 form will illustrate the magnitude of our task on Tuesday:-
October 20th Stevenage (A) Won 0-1
October 24th Bradford City (A) Won 0-3
October 27th Colchester United (H) Won 2-1
October 31st Harrogate Town (H) Won 2-1
November 3rd Carlisle United (A) Lost 3-2
November 21st Port Vale (H) Won 1-0
It’s not necessary to be a mathematical genius to spot the disparity between ourselves and The Exiles - as stated above we have scored twice in our most recent 5 League 2 games, whereas they’ve found the net 10 times. More worryingly (in a way) there seems to be a complete absence of pointers towards any upturn in our performances - we just aren’t scoring goals (not even from the occasional free shot known as a penalty), and at the same time we are remarkably generous in gifting goals to the opposition (and if that looks unlikely well, what the hell, we will score for them).
Darrell Clarke will, I feel sure, have been made aware of the fans’ antipathy surrounding our current state. It remains to be seen whether that groundswell of opinion will lead to any tangible change in his approach to what would seem to be a lost cause as far as this fixture is concerned. We wait to see if players can be placed in their most effective positions rather than stuck out on the wing (for example), and perhaps it might be good to see if Rose can organise the defence if given the chance - after all, we really do have nothing to lose, do we?
Prediction? Let’s see just how wrong I can be … the normal practice is to be as optimistic as possible (I even thought we might scrape a 1-1 scoreline at Cheltenham) but this match appears to offer nothing other than a defeat, so observing the reality of the situation we have to be looking at a 2-0 home win if we can get away with it.