Friday 21 September 2012

Next Amber Army Blog Update

Many apologies for the lack of Newport County blogs for the Barrow game last week and the Southport game tomorrow.  Unfortunately, the challenges of work have prohibited me from being able to do the necessary preparation work to write the blogs.  However, this period has now come to an end and the next blog will therefore be posted on Monday morning previewing the away fixture at Telford on Tuesday.

I have now made significant progress in compiling and organising statistics relating to Newport County goals over the past 24 seasons and some of these statistics will be used in the blog on Monday.  However, as a taster, did you know that the most league goalscorers that Newport County have ever had in a single season is 19.  This occurred on 3 occasions:

  • 1998-1999 in the Southern League Midland (Finished 2nd; promoted)
  • 1999-2000 in the Southern League Premier (Finished 7th)
  • 2010-2011 in the Conference Premier (Finished 9th)

Consequently, despite having 19 different scorers in a single season on three occasions, County only actually got promoted on one of the occasions.  In comparison, have a look at the top four league scorers in a season for County:

  • 32 Ceri Williams in 1994-1995 Southern League Midland (Champions; promoted)
  • 29 Karl Bayliss in 1998-1999 Southern League Midland (2nd; promoted)
  • 24 Craig Reid in 2009-2010 Conference South (Champions; promoted)
  • 23 Chris Lilygreen in 1989-90 Hellenic Premier (Champions; promoted)

A clear statistical pattern therefore emerges – it is not the number of players who score that makes the difference; it is the number of goals that your leading striker gets that makes the difference.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Consecutive Scoring Sequence Poll Result

Goalscoring Image

(Photograph courtesy of Sam Shingler)

Last week’s poll asked the question, ‘During their impressive 1994 scoring sequence, how many consecutive games did the Exiles score in?’.  There were four possible options, which are listed below along with the percentage of people that voted for that answer:

1. 17 consecutive games 16%

2. 30 consecutive games 66%

3. 43 consecutive games 16%

4. 58 consecutive games 0%

The longest consecutive run of games in which Newport County scored lasted for an entire year and 43 league games.  The goalscoring run started on 29 January 1994 with a Townsend hat-trick in a 3-0 victory over Sutton Coldfield Town as the Exiles continued to recover from a dreadful start to the season in the Southern League Midland Division and included a memorable sequence of 16 goals in a week in the April as an 8-3 demolition of Forest Green Rovers followed 3-1 (Redditch United) and 5-0 (Leicester United) victories earlier in the week.

As the goalscoring run continued into the promotion season of 1994-95, several opponents received heavy thrashings at the hands of the potent Newport strike force.  Having conceded eight the previous season, Forest Green received a 6-2 beating on their own territory and Hinckley Town, Sutton Coldfield Town, Ilkeston Town all conceded five.  The run came to an end on 28 January 1995 with a 0-0 draw at Bedworth United, with the Exiles having scored at least two goals in all of the ten games prior to that.

Given the incredible nature of that run, it is all the more remarkable that Newport have never even come close to matching the sequence.  The nearest they got was a run of 18 consecutive games, a run which started in the April of the same season and continued to the October of their first season in the Southern League Premier Division.

Friday 7 September 2012

Exiles Remain Positive Despite Defeats

Newport Badge 2012 Smaller

Stockport County Badge

Newport County v Stockport County

Conference Premier Division

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Rodney Parade, Newport


2011 Campaign Helps County Stay Focused On The Good Times

Whilst some of the gloss may have been taken off Newport County’s excellent start to the season after the recent losses at Wrexham and Dartford, County fans would do well to remember that the Exiles current position of 15 points from 7 games and 3rd in the league remains far superior to the situation they found themselves in last season.  As Newport prepared for the away trip to Mansfield on the equivalent weekend last season, they had just one win (against Hayes) and five points to show for their seven outings and things would get a lot worse before they improved.

Many have argued that the away trip to Mansfield, which resulted in the 5-0 mauling that effectively put an end to Anthony Hudson’s reign,  was County’s worst performance since returning to the Conference Premier.  Even though Newport recorded a remarkable 4-3 victory there this season, Field Mill is never a particularly easy place to go.  However, 12 months ago, Newport made it look like the equivalent of Old Trafford as, in front of the live cameras, they went behind to a 12th minute Green strike and were outplayed and outfought in every area of the field.  To cap off a thoroughly miserable day for players and fans alike, in testament to the unpredictability of British weather given the pleasant conditions on the photograph beneath, the final five minutes of the game were then played out in absolutely torrential rain.

Mansfield Town v Newport County


As the author and his 6yr daughter look on, Mansfield Town fire yet another shot at the Newport goal during the 5-0 drubbing the Exiles received on this weekend in 2011.

Photo courtesy of Sam Shingler (see Newport County Photos)


Unfortunately for County, things continued to spiral downwards after the Mansfield game as three points from draws against Barrow, Forest Green Rovers and Saturday’s visitors Stockport County were all they had to show from the next six games.  By the time the club began its recovery with a 4-1 victory at Fleetwood, in what was arguably the biggest shock of the whole Conference Premier season, Newport were already in such dire straits that, rather than trying to avoid a season long relegation battle, they were just simply focused on trying to stay in the relegation fight. 

The table below compares Newport’s results up to and including the Mansfield game in 2011 with the results achieved so far this season:

Date  Newport County 2011 Date Newport County 2012
13-Aug-11  2-3 (A) v Kettering Town 11-Aug-12  4-3 (A) v Mansfield Town
16-Aug-11  4-0 (H) v Hayes & Yeading Utd 14-Aug-12  4-0 (H) v Nuneaton Town
20-Aug-11  0-0 (H) v Grimsby Town 18-Aug-12  2-1 (H) v Lincoln City
23-Aug-11  0-0 (A) v Ebbsfleet United 25-Aug-12  2-1 (A) v Braintree Town
27-Aug-11  1-2 (A) v Telford United 28-Aug-12  2-0 (H) v Hereford United
29-Aug-11  1-3 (H) v Kidderminster 1-Sep-12  0-2 (A) v Wrexham
3-Sep-11  0-1 (H) v Cambridge United 4-Sep-12  1-2 (A) v Dartford
10-Sep-11  0-5 (A) v Mansfield Town 8-Sep-12  (H) v Stockport County

Stockport County Overview

One of the biggest problems that Stockport encountered in their first season outside league football since 1904-05 was the lack of a regular marksman.  Whilst an impressive 16 players got on the scoresheet at some point during the season, their top goalscorers Tom Elliott and Danny Rowe, both of whom scored against County last season, only managed eight goals apiece. 

This statistic probably explains why one player is no longer with the Hatters, with changes clearly needing to be made as Elliott transferred to Cambridge United for an undisclosed fee in the summer.  Danny Rowe, however, was a loan player who has returned to County until January 2013.  Whilst  a new set of forwards have been moderately successful in answering the charge to score more goals, with County bagging three on Tuesday evening against Macclesfield and finding the net in each of their last four games, the defence has been leaking them in at least equal measure, with eight goals being conceded in the last four games.  This does not bode well for the Hatters as they come up against what many expect to be one of the most potent strike forces in the division this season.

Date Stockport County
11-Aug-12  1-0 (H) v Alfreton Town
14-Aug-12  2-1 (A) v Grimsby Town
18-Aug-12  0-1 (A) v Tamworth
25-Aug-12  1-2 (H) v Gateshead
27-Aug-12  2-2 (A) v Telford United
1-Sep-12  1-1 (H) v Cambridge United
4-Sep-12  3-4 (H) v Macclesfield Town

Indeed, after an extremely positive start in which Stockport were one of only two teams who recorded back to back wins in the opening two games of the season, the other being Newport County, things have started to go wrong.  The Hatters, in a sequence of results that is eerily reminiscent of Newport last season, have now only picked up two points from the last five games despite having only met Grimsby of those sides who were tipped to be vying for promotion at the start of the season.  This will be viewed by Director of Football and Stockport legend Jim Gannon as somewhat disappointing, given that the club had been taking steps to strengthen and improve the squad even before the end of last season in the hope of making a concerted challenge for promotion back to the Football League this season.

Given the current losing streaks of both clubs, Gannon will be impressing on his players the importance of not conceding an early goal on Saturday.  Whilst Newport may have lost their previous two matches, confidence would quickly return to their side should they get ahead, whereas Stockport’s confidence is currently at a much lower ebb.  Should the Hatters be able to prevent the home side from being able to open them up with their intricate passing game, and thus begin to frustrate both the players and the home fans, Stockport may then be in with a realistic chance of snatching a draw, or even catching the home side on a counter attack.  However, recent defensive performances suggest that it will be a tough afternoon for the visitors.

Previous Encounters 

Until last season, Newport County had not met Stockport County in the league since the former club reformed in 1989 and, as a consequence, the only previous encounters took place last season.

20/09/2011 Newport County 1 1 Stockport County 1,205 D. Rose  
11/02/2012 Stockport County 2 2 Newport County 3,565 A. Sandell J. Harris

The first game, a 1-1 draw at Spytty Park, took place just 10 days after the Mansfield defeat described above and, depending upon perspective, could have been viewed by the Welsh club as either positive or negative.  The result was positive in the sense  that it ended a five match losing streak that had seen the Exiles tumble into the relegation zone.  The negatives though were that it was County’s eighth consecutive game without a win after a late Tom Elliott header cancelled out a 30th minute Danny Rose strike that had for so long looked likely to seal three points for the home side.  Whilst the draw left Newport floundering at the foot of the table, it was another valuable point for the mid table Hatters as they sought to recover from relegation and the financial crisis that had been threatening to destroy the club.

By the time of the reverse fixture in February, however, both clubs were firmly embroiled in the relegation battle.  The Welsh side were still in the bottom four, although a scoreless home draw with Forest Green on the quagmire at Spytty and a stunning late turnaround against Gateshead, thanks to late strikes from Sam Foley and Jake Harris, had given cause for hope.  Stockport were sitting precariously just above the relegation zone but with the knowledge that they had played more games than any of their rivals.

In a game which the home side largely controlled after the now departed striker Danny Rowe had settled their nerves with an opening 7th minute strike.  After Newport had got themselves back into the game shortly after half time through attacking full back Andy Sandell, they then compounded their own problems as their goalscorer, who was playing on the left of midfield that day, was sent off.  Given the sheer volume of red cards that Newport received during the 2011-12 season, especially away from home, this was something of a typical state of affairs for the Welsh side.  They were immediately punished for their indiscretion when Danny Rowe scored both Stockport and his second of the match with a splendid free kick.  However, in direct contrast to the first game, it was Newport who this time rescued a point late in the game when Jake Harris, who was gaining a reputation as a super sub, found an equaliser with four minutes remaining.

Although Stockport’s start has been very similar to the one they made last year, they will fancy their chances of coming away with something from Rodney Parade, especially if they can prevent Newport from getting off to another of their blistering starts.  This said though, the guile and quality of star striker Aaron O’Connor, coupled by the backing of a vociferous home crowd in close proximity to the pitch should be enough to see the Exiles get back to winning ways.


Newport County 3 Stockport County 1

Monday 3 September 2012

Winning Streak Poll Result

The question in last week’s poll was, ‘What division were Newport County in when they last won 8 games on the trot?’

There were four possible answers and here is a breakdown of those answers and the percentage votes they got, with the winning answer in bold:

Conference Premier 33%

Conference South 33%

Southern League Premier 0%

Southern League Midland 33%

The last time Newport County won eight on the spin was in April-May 1994 under the guidance of Graham Rogers in the Southern League Midland Division.  The run included the 5-0 thrashing of Leicester United, a 5-1 drubbing of Bilston Town and, perhaps of more interest to those following the fortunes of teams in the Conference Premier, an 8-3 victory against currently 2nd placed Forest Green Rovers.  Another one of those at Rodney Parade would go down well this season!

County Focus On Repelling Accurate Darts


Newport Badge 2012 Smaller

Dartford v Newport County

Conference Premier Division

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Princes Park, Dartford


Previous Encounters

Newport County will travel to Dartford for the first time in 14 years on Tuesday evening as they seek an immediate return to winning ways.  The only time the sides have previously met was during the single season the Exiles spent in the Southern League Southern Division.  Having suffered relegation from the Southern League Premier the season before, in what is still the club’s only relegation since reforming, Newport finished in a comfortable 7th position, 11 points ahead of 11th placed Dartford.  At the end of the season, Newport were then switched back into their regular Tier 7 home of the Southern Midland Division.

January 31, 1998 Newport County 3 1 Dartford 608
April 18, 1998 Dartford 2 4 Newport County 250

The two encounters between the clubs that season were both won by the home sides with utility player Danny Hill, who only scored four times during the whole league campaign, netting in both fixtures for Newport and thus being the current top scorer against Dartford.  The attendance for the game at Spytty Park was only 608 and, given that the attendance for the game at Dartford was a mere 250 as opposed to the 1,145 who saw the 5-1 demolition of Alfreton Town at Princes Park on Saturday, it is pretty much guaranteed that Tuesday evening will see the highest recorded attendance between these two sides since Newport reformed.  The venue for the game is also different, as the 4-2 home victory for Dartford took place at the Kent side’s then temporary home of Ship Lane. 

Dartford Overview

Like Newport County, Dartford have come a long way since the two sides last met in the Southern League Southern Division.  Whilst County left that division by moving sideways into the Southern League Midland Division, Dartford  were moving around Kent, playing in both Thurrock and Gravesend before they were finally able to build a new ground in Dartford, which opened during the 2006-07 season.  During this period, the number of ground moves was more significant than any progress Dartford were making up the football pyramid.  Indeed, the start of the 2005-06 season represented Dartford’s 70th season of football in the Southern League, more than any other club.  It was only after their return home that the club began to take significant steps towards the top flight of English non league football for the first time since 1986.

The year after they moved into Princes Park, Dartford were promoted to the Isthmian League Premier Division and two years later in 2009-10 they also won that league and were thus promoted to the Conference South just as Newport were leaving it for the Conference Premier Division.  The club then finished a highly creditable 10th place in their first season of Conference football, especially given that they were in the relegation zone in December,  drawing the highest attendance of the season (2,781) in that division for their game against local rivals Ebbsfleet United.  Although the highlight of the season was a 4-0 home victory over Dover, there were also some heavy reverses as Dartford sought for consistency, with both Dorchester and Hampton & Richmond helping themselves to four goal victories at Princes Park.

Dartford learnt the lessons from that first season and significantly improved last term, bagging an impressive 89 goals in collecting 88 points.  Whilst this was not quite enough to finish above Woking, it was sufficient to leave the Darts in 2nd place, some 7 points clear of third placed Welling United and some 17 points clear of play off semi final opponents Basingstoke Town.  Justice was eventually done as Dartford proceeded to win all three of their play off matches to gain promotion to the Conference Premier.  Given their meteoric rise in recent seasons, propelled by the goals of Bradbrook, Erskine and Harris, the former two of whom scored against Alfreton last Saturday, few would bet against Dartford doing well in the Conference Premier.

Recent Form

Date  Newport County Dartford
11-Aug-12  4-3 (A) v Mansfield Town 2-3 (H) v Tamworth
14-Aug-12  4-0 (H) v Nuneaton Town 0-1 (A) v Woking
18-Aug-12  2-1 (H) v Lincoln City 0-2 (A) v Macclesfield Town
25-Aug-12  2-1 (A) v Braintree Town 1-0 (H) v Kidderminster Harriers
27/28-Aug-12  2-0 (H) v Hereford United 2-1 (A) v Cambridge United
1-Sep-12 0-2 (A) v Wrexham 5-1 (H) v Alfreton Town

Whilst Newport had been sweeping all before them until the trip to the Racecourse Ground at the weekend, Dartford have already experienced a season of contrasts.  Despite their fantastic form in the Conference South last season, the Essex side initially found adjusting to the higher level a challenge.  The first two games of the season, at home to a Tamworth side who had been in free fall at the end of last season and away at Conference South champions Woking, appeared to yield the possibility of early points.  However, despite playing well and netting twice against Tamworth, ‘three mistakes’ in the words of manager Tony Burman cost them the points. 

This was then followed by a 1-0 defeat to Woking after Giuseppe Sole scored an 82nd minute penalty, leaving outside observers to start fearing the worst for Dartford.  However, once again there were mitigating circumstances, as Dartford had to play for 55 minutes with only 10 men after Lee Noble had been sent off, an incident that even victorious Woking manager Garry Hill recognised as being pivotal to the result.  The anticipated defeat at Macclesfield the following Saturday thus left Dartford without any points from their first three games but since then Tony Burman has rapidly turned things around.

Their first victory came in what had already become a crucial match at Princes Park against Kidderminister, given that both sides had lost all three matches prior to that encounter, with  substitute Lee Burns, who had only been on the field for 11 minutes after replacing the injured Adam Green, heading home a 36th minute winner.  The confidence gained from this result was then taken into Dartford’s next game, where they recorded an impressive 2-1 victory at Cambridge. 

After disposing of Alfreton 5-1 on Saturday, courtesy of a hat-trick from Harry Crawford, Dartford have now won three consecutive games and are comfortably placed in 12th position in the league table.  Far from being fearful of league leaders Newport County, they will view this as another opportunity to demonstrate their credentials at Conference Premier level.  Consequently, the Exiles will need to exert their authority on the game in a way that they failed to do at the Racecourse Ground.  Failure to do so could mean the end of their stint at the top of the table.

  Conference Premier Top Half Pl GD Pts
1 Newport County 6 7 15
2 Forest Green Rovers 6 6 14
3 Luton Town 6 7 13
4 Gateshead 6 5 12
5 Macclesfield Town 6 3 12
6 Telford United 6 6 11
7 Wrexham 6 3 11
8 Tamworth 6 3 10
9 Hereford United 6 2 10
10 Braintree Town 6 1 10
11 Grimsby Town 6 4 9
12 Dartford 6 2 9

Post Wrexham Statistical Observations

The defeat at Wrexham on Saturday was the 8th time in 13 attempts that Newport County failed to get progress beyond a five game winning streak and means that the South Walians have now failed to score at the Racecourse Ground in three attempts.  Indeed, County have only collected a total of two points from five games against Wrexham at an average of 0.4 points per game, which is the worst return County have against any side in the Conference Premier this season. The table below shows the closest challengers:

Team Games Won Drawn Lost PPG
Wrexham 5 0 2 3 0.40
Luton Town 4 0 2 2 0.50
Ebbsfleet United 2 0 1 1 0.50
Telford United 2 0 1 1 0.50
Nuneaton Town 11 2 3 6 0.81
Barrow 4 1 1 2 1.00
Southport 4 1 1 2 1.00
Stockport County 2 0 2 0 1.00

PPG = Points Per Game

County have not only failed to gain maximum points against Wrexham in five attempts, but they have also failed to score against the Dragons in their last four encounters.  Indeed, the only player who has managed to find the net for Newport in this fixture is the recently departed Darryl Knights, who scored in the first meeting between the two sides back in September 2010.  The table below shows Newport worst goals per game ratio against the teams currently in the Conference Premier, with Wrexham once again proving to be the most problematic side for the Exiles:

Team Games Goals Home Away GPG
Wrexham 5 1 1 0 0.20
Luton Town 4 2 1 1 0.50
Ebbsfleet United 2 1 0 1 0.50
Telford United 2 1 0 1 0.50
Cambridge United 4 3 1 2 0.75

GPG = Goals Per Game

A more positive statistic concerns the way Newport bounced back the last time that a five match winning streak came to an end in October 2010 with a 2-0 reverse in front of 3,246 at Grimsby Town.  The following three games yielded a total of seven points as County followed up a disappointing 3-3 home draw with Eastbourne by thrashing York City 4-0, with two goals apiece from Sam Foley and Craig Reid, and beating champions elect Crawley Town 3-2 on their own ground, with Craig Reid also scoring in that game. 

Twelve months prior to this particular sequence, the Exiles had gone on another five game winning streak in the Conference South, a run that was brought to an end with a 1-1 draw against Weymouth despite yet another Craig Reid goal.  On that occasion, County went on to win all of their next three matches 1-0 (against Woking, Bath City and St. Albans City).  Furthermore, they went on to record six match and seven match winning streaks later in the same season in amassing 103 points. 

Overall therefore, statistics support the notion that Newport County will bounce back on Tuesday evening against Dartford.  However, the form and confidence of the home side will make this a particularly tricky encounter and the old adage that the first goal is crucial is perhaps particularly apt here, as the confidence of the team that scores it will grow immeasurably.  However, I suspect that the game will end in a draw, especially if the reports that the impressive Danny Crow’s injury is fairly serious prove to be true.


Dartford 2 Newport County 2