"At Severn’s mouth …
Scenes dear to memory …
The voice of Ebbw in his lovely park."
We welcome The Exiles to Bescot in search of our first League 2 home win, while they look for their first League 2 away success. Fortunately they weren’t able to persuade Wilfried Bony to join their squad competitively - he was only training with them to maintain his fitness prior to a European move. Bony’s departure contrasts spectacularly with the career of manager Michael Flynn, who has appeared as a player for Newport County in four separate spells before taking over the reins in March 2017 following the sacking of Graham Westley, when County were 11 points adrift at the bottom of League 2. The “Great Escape” that he managed to achieve ranks with Dean Smith’s efforts with ourselves, and Flynn also did the club a power of good with their F.A. Cup exploits - wins against Leeds United, Middlesbrough and Leicester City and a creditable draw against Tottenham Hotspur in successive seasons. Remember what a cup run was like? This season’s form so far:-
Aug 3 Mansfield Town (H) Drew 2-2
Aug 10 Cambridge United (A) Drew 0-0
Aug 13 Gillingham (A - EFL Cup) Drew 2-2 (But won 4-1 on penalties)
Aug 17 Plymouth Argyle (H) Won 1-0
The League 2 table at this early stage is naturally very compressed, so much so that even from our lowly 15th place we are only 3 points behind the leaders - Swindon Town, Exeter City and Forest Green Rovers are joint top with 7 points - so rapid movement up (or down) the table can be expected. Darrell Clarke will still be considering his most effective tactics and team selection for this one and so far we haven’t seen the much-vaunted marque/marquee striker mentioned so often, so it appears that our strikeforce will come from a mixture of Adebayo, Gordon and Lavery (who at least showed his fitness levels by completing the game at Crewe Alexandra). Midfield could prove problematic, and much will depend on Guthrie’s fitness after his recent injury. Kory Roberts is said not to be in contention as yet, and Liam Roberts looks to be first choice custodian. As always, “wait and see”…
Prediction? Can’t see this being a high-scoring game (just watch, it’ll end up 5-4!!), so in a spirit of optimism let’s go for a grinding 1-0 home win, with Lavery showing us how it should be done.