WHILE there are no trophies on the line this week it could be one of the biggest weeks in the history of Newport County AFC as we take on Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round replay tonight (Tuesday).
The result will not define the season for the club and players, but a win would do so much for the club as a whole because of the money involved in the tie and the possibility of playing in the next round.
Because of prize money and live TV money, if we beat Boro the club will receive half a million pounds and that is before you factor in advertising, ticket sales and a home game in the fifth round of the FA Cup against Manchester City, which would also live on TV.
That, added to the money the club has already made through their FA Cup runs this year and last, will put the club in a very healthy position financially and in a better position to attract more players to the club in the summer.
The chairman and the board won’t have budgeted for an FA Cup run like this so they are delighted with the extra revenue and exposure the club is receiving.
For the players though it is just another game and once again we will treat it exactly as if we were playing a regular League Two game.
Middlesbrough had a fantastic away victory on Saturday against West Brom but hopefully they will take their eyes off the ball tonight and start looking ahead to their early kick-off on Saturday against Leeds United.
No matter what side Tony Pulis decides to put out, it will be a team that would hold its own against any Championship side. We must match our performance against them in the drawn game to have any chance. We caught them by surprise with how well we performed at the Riverside Stadium in the drawn game and I know they won’t be taking us lightly this time. It’s a bit of a homecoming for Tony Pulis too as he was born in Newport and I think it is the first time he is bringing a team to the city.
Even though there is a massive financial windfall dangling for the club, there is still no pressure on us to win the game except the pressure the players and staff will be putting on ourselves.
Once again, everyone outside the dressing room will be expecting a Middlesbrough victory and especially so after our loss on Saturday in the league. But hopefully we can prove a few people wrong.
The possibility of facing Man City is a great opportunity for us. The chance to welcome one of the best sides in world football to the city and our home stadium does not come around every day of the week so we have to take that chance with both hands and believe we can beat Middlesbrough.
If we do, then we can have nightmares and sleepless nights about Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Co coming to Newport. What a problem to have!
On Saturday we face Mansfield at home in the league and it is getting to the stage where games are becoming must-win for us or else our season is going to end up playing itself out in mid-table with nothing to play for.
Mansfield are in brilliant form and they made some excellent signings in the January transfer window, so we need to be on our game from minute one to get anything from the game. We aren’t in the greatest form in the league, but we have still picked up some valuable points in two of the previous three games.
The Grimsby game last week was a disaster as we rested a few players and gave some of the fringe players some much-needed minutes, but it backfired. Now we need a massive reaction in the league. The FA Cup game against Middlesbrough will look after itself but for our season the Mansfield Town game is a bigger game for us in my opinion. If we can get three points, it keeps us within touching distance of the play-offs and gives us that little bit of hope of making a late charge into the top seven and a place in the play-offs.