Braintree Town v Newport County
Conference Premier Division
Saturday, 25 August 2012
Amlin Stadium, Braintree
Newport County will step out onto the Amlin Stadium pitch in Braintree on Saturday afternoon as the early Conference Premier Division pacesetters, after resisting a second half resurgence from Lincoln City at Rodney Parade last Saturday to record a valuable 2-1 victory. The three points maintained the perfect start to the season that County have made and cemented their place at the top of the embryonic league table. It was also, perhaps more notably, only the third time that Newport have managed to gain three consecutive victories since they were promoted to the Conference in 2010. Victory over Braintree on Saturday would therefore see them win a fourth consecutive Conference match.
The only time that County have won more than three consecutive games at Conference level was at the start of the 2010-11 season. Under the guidance of Dean Holdsworth, a side still buoyed by the confidence of gaining 103 points in the Conference South the previous season, despite their relatively slow start to life at Conference Premier level, recorded consecutive victories against Rushden & Diamonds (2-1 away), Mansfield Town (1-0 home), Hayes & Yeading (2-1 away), Cambridge United (1-0 away) and Forest Green Rovers (3-1 home).
The 2010 run was in no small measure due to the form of striker Craig Reid, who bagged four of the nine County goals in those five games and a remarkable 58 goals in just 96 overall appearances for the Exiles before being earning a move to the Football League with Stevenage in 2011. Similarly, the current run has been down to the newly formed County strikeforce, and in particular to Aaron O’Connor. The 29 year old Nottingham born striker has already played for a whole host of clubs during his career, including early season opponents Nuneaton Town and Mansfield Town, despite his proven ability to score goals at the lower levels. He netted 80 times in just 127 games for Gresley Rovers between 2004-07 and has started in similar fashion for Newport, scoring five times in his first three matches despite claims that he is still only 75% fit. Should his form continue, there is every chance that County will be able to extend their winning sequence.
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|Conference South (6)||8||4||1||3||10||8|
Saturday’s match will be the 11th time that Newport County have played Braintree Town since the Welsh club were reformed and the third time at Conference Premier level with the clubs, barring the 2010-11 season, having played in the same division ever since Braintree were promoted to the Conference South for the start of the 2006-07 season. Overall, honours are fairly even with Braintree having won on five occasions and Newport on four occasions. However, last season Braintree completed their second double over Newport, whilst the Exiles have only managed to do the double over Braintree on the one occasion, which was during the success Conference South promotion season of 2009-10.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Newport arrive at the Amlin Stadium in the complete opposite state to how they will arrive at the weekend. They had just received a fourth consecutive league defeat in the form of a 5-0 thrashing at Mansfield Town, which during a visit to Britain the author rather predictably picked as his first Newport game of the season, and a 1-0 defeat at Braintree consequently left the Exiles in a precarious position at the foot of the table. Indeed, despite drawing the following three league fixtures, Newport considered their state to be so perilous that manager Anthony Hudson was duly sacked before the end of the month.
By the time the teams met again at Spytty Park in March 2012, Justin Edinburgh had taken over the reigns at County and was in the process of steering the Welsh club to safety. Newport had recently seen a five match unbeaten run come to an end at Tamworth after two goals were conceded in the final 10 minutes of the match, but were still desperately in need of points to keep clear of the relegation. However, they were not to obtain them against Braintree, as midfielder Lee MInshull received a questionable red card and the visitors netted three times in the first 35 minutes on their way to a 4-3 victory that was not as close as the scoreline would suggest.
At The Amlin Stadium
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|Conference South (6)||4||1||1||2||5||6|
The highest attendance at the Amlin Stadium for a game against Newport County was 1,187, a figure greatly bolstered by the fact that it was the last game of the season and Braintree were endeavoring to hold onto 5th place in the league and a play off spot in the Conference South, with Newport having already been promoted as champions. The Welsh side had pretty much put an end to those play off dreams within 11 minutes though, as Collins and Cochlin put them two up. Whilst Braintree fought back with a second half penalty, it was not enough to retain their play off position and it would be another 12 months before Braintree joined Newport in the Conference Premier.
That particular victory was the only time that Newport have won at the Amlin Stadium in five attempts, but the form and the quality of their squad would suggest a positive return on Saturday. The County forward line will be a threat to any side in the Conference this season and Braintree have issues with their defence, after conceding five goals in three games against Hyde, Ebbsfleet and Telford, all of whom are expected to be in the lower echelons of the division.
Braintree Town 0 Newport County 2