IT was a dream week for Newport County as we got back to winning ways in the league at home to second placed Mansfield Town on Saturday, but more importantly, financially for the club, we beat Middlesbrough in the FA Cup replay to set up a dream home tie against Premier League champions Manchester City.
We knew going into the replay against Boro just how important the game was because of how much money the club stood to make if we won. The conditions were terrible, but we were very confident going into the game. And we were even more confident when we were warming up as it took Boro another 10 or 15 minutes to follow us out. Whether it is true or not, to the naked eye it looked like they didn’t want to be there, and that gave us confidence.
We took the game to Boro early on and they just couldn’t live with us. The only disappointment was that we were still level at half time because we could have been out of sight.
We started the second half as we had finished the first but this time we were able to score the opening goal of the game and pile the pressure on Boro. Not long after that a very clever corner routine from us allowed me to score what was probably the best goal of my career and to continue my record of scoring in every round of the FA Cup this season.
That goal gave Boro a mountain to climb and we saw the game out brilliantly.
The result proved that the manager was right to rest a couple of the players for the loss at Grimsby purely because he knew how much money the club would make with a win against Middlesbrough and from the Manchester City game to come.
The whole build-up to the City game is going to be very different for all the players. It will be a level of attention that we won’t have experienced before, but it is brilliant to even have this game to look forward to.
Let’s not make any bones about it, it will be the most difficult game of our careers and to get anything from the game we will need lots to go right for us and a lot of luck in our favour too, but we can still dream about causing the biggest upset in FA Cup history.
I watched them play Chelsea on Sunday to see if there were any weaknesses and they won 6-0 so it was very disturbing viewing for the 90 minutes. This City side are unbelievable. But still, and I don’t know if this is just stupidity on my part, I firmly believe we can get a result. You must believe that you can get something from any game because there is no point turning up otherwise.
In the same breath I also know that Man City can do to us exactly what they did to Chelsea so we will work hard on a game plan during the week and hope that we can carry it out perfectly. Maybe our home pitch will help us too in our quest to stop the unstoppable.
Before we get to Saturday’s game, we are in action in the league at home tonight (Tuesday) against MK Dons who have slipped down the table in the last couple of weeks after being top of the league not so long ago.
It is going to be a tough game for us, and we need to be concentrating on the game 100% if we are to get anything from it. I don’t think the manager will rotate as much as he did for the Grimsby game though so everyone is playing for places and we all know that a poor performance against MK Dons would put us at risk of losing a starting spot.
That’s the short-term goal for some lads but a win can put us further back up the league and back into the picture for the play-offs. That’s the most important thing.
The Grimsby game apart, our form has been quite good recently. Two wins in a row and two clean sheets at home gives us confidence so if we can make it three wins in seven days it will be a great boost before we face that mammoth task on Saturday against Manchester City.