Wednesday, December 05, 2018

IT was a brilliant week for us at Newport County as we made it three wins from three in different competitions. Not only did we boost the club’s finances by qualifying for the next round of the FA Cup and the Checkatrade Trophy, but we also reclaimed a place in the automatic play-off places in League Two.
It was probably the perfect week as we scored six goals and kept a clean sheet in all three games which was a real boost for the squad.
On Tuesday we beat League One side Plymouth in the cup and it was an excellent performance from us even if there were numerous changes from the FA Cup victory three days before.
To see some of the fringe players come in and put in very good displays adds to the quality of the squad and makes the manager’s selection decisions harder.
On Saturday we faced Colchester United who started the day in third place in the league and they were one of the form sides in the country going into the game too. The first half was a very cagey display from us and to be fair to Colchester, they played the ball around very well, but they never looked like scoring at the same time.
Our defence was well on top in the first half and at half-time we made a couple of changes. One of the changes was me coming back into midfield and in the second half we took over and scored two well-worked goals to win 2-0 and take Colchester’s spot in third place in the league.
The win was a big statement from us and lays down a marker for us to be taken seriously in our quest to finish in the automatic promotion places.
The only disappointment from Saturday was that we lost Robbie Wilmott to a hamstring injury in the first half. He has been excellent for us this season so far.
That was the second hamstring injury in our squad in the space of four days and the fifth this season. I know the medical team and the management are trying to get to the bottom of what is causing the injuries so far. We don’t have the biggest squad so it is important that we get those players back soon.
But it’s also important that we don’t rush them so the injuries don’t reoccur.
We also found out our opponents in the second round of the FA Cup this week. The draw has thrown up a Welsh derby for us against Wrexham away.
Wrexham are doing extremely well in the National League this season and I know a couple of their players too who are ex-teammates of mine, so I want to get one over on those lads.
There is some extra spice in the game as it has been selected for live TV coverage on BT Sport so both teams will want to put a show on.
This weekend we are away to Cheltenham Town which is one of our closest rivals in League Two so we should have a very good away support.
They haven’t been in the best of form this season, but they changed that last weekend when they went to Notts County and won 3-0. They changed manager not so long ago and appointed former Burnley centre half Michael Duff who has made a positive impact.
I have never had an easy game at Whaddon Road and I’m fully expecting a tough physical game on Saturday.
A win there is important because it will maintain that gap between us and the other sides around us. This weekend a lot of those teams are playing each other so some will definitely be dropping points.
We are not far away from the Christmas period and that is when squads are really tested so it’s important to go into the festive period in a good position.

*This column appeared in the 20 November edition of The Nationalist


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