The pre-game ramble: Newport County

Gameweek three of our League Two existence welcomes Newport County to the Ricoh. Who else is quite enjoying this?

Bit annoying, isn’t it? I had it all planned out. I was going to remain aloof all season long this year. Old Bloggy was going to be Director of Football, sat in the stand with his Double Decker, overseeing the operation but giving little more than a wry smile if we won, or a dismissive shrug after a defeat. Just nice and happy, and definitely not too into it.

Three games in and that plan is already at great risk of going to buggery, thanks mainly to the team winning a couple of matches, Tony Andreu being called Tony, and the introduction of iFollow. This level of access is very dangerous for someone with a personality as obsessive as mine.

I still don’t have a season ticket but this will be game three out of four this season. If things get much better, we may have to reevaluate the not-giving-too-much-of-a-shit stance I so brazenly championed just two weeks ago.

Next up to test my true feelings on the subject: Newport County.

How are they getting on?

It’s actually a bit of a shame for them at the moment because they’re having to play all their games away from home while their ground (the spectacularly-named Rodney Parade) is being refurbed. This will be their fourth away day on the spin, but that doesn’t seem to be impacting them as harshly as you’d imagine as they remain unbeaten in all three games this season – including two draws in the league.

Fresh from a great escape to retain their Football League status, they’ve made a solid start to the current campaign, suggesting a continuation of the form that saw them claw back an eleven point deficit in just two months. It was some feat, displaying true character and endeavor and one that should not be underestimated.

Conversely, if you like using the previous game as a measure of form, it’s worth noting that they managed to throw away a victory against a ten-man Crewe. Having taken the lead in the 13th minute, they watched the opposition have a man sent off and equalise within five minutes. Will that failure to break down Alex knock their confidence?

Who could cause us trouble?

Everyone’s favourite saunter-er Frank Nouble returns to the Ricoh to see if he can do what he seldom-managed during his Sky Blues stint. I find myself giving him a little more slack than most former players because he scored that first goal on our return to the Ricoh, and actually had some decent games for us. He’s hardly been a roaring success since his departure, but I’d still be mindful of the threat he can pose if he’s feeling particular bossy. He’s also netted in both of Newport’s league games to date.

Also finding the net for this season is Nouble’s strike partner Shawn McCoulsky, with the Bristol City loanee scoring twice in an impressive win over League One Southend in the Carabao Cup.

Elsewhere, they’ve just brought in Bournemouth’s Joe Quigley on loan. He’s only 20 and still learning, but already has a few goals in his cursory career playing with the grown-ups, notching 17 in 77 appearances across a range of different loan spells. These were mostly in non-league, admittedly.

Sky Blues team news

It’s amazing how a few performances can completely alter the perception of your players. With the recent additions of The Duck and New Tony, our options in attacking areas look positively plentiful. Robins’ main concern is just how much he adjust things after the comprehensive victory against Grimsby.

Andreu came on and provided some nice, slick moments, while Nazon is an absolute bison and clearly fancies himself against anyone at this level. They’ll both want to play and will be pushing for starts. However, he’s a sensible guy is our Mark, and I’m sure he’ll recognise the importance of familiarity and giving a unit a chance to develop. Changes will always be required throughout the season, so why force it? These early games are vital in setting your benchmarks, and fiddling with things will always leave you with regret if it goes tits up. Not that regret should really matter as it’s just a personal emotion, but there’s very little reason to mess with something that has achieved a perfect start.

Looking away from the attack, Willis came off in the second half against Grimsby but he should be back in the starting eleven. Lee Burge is also back from his injury so could potentially replace RCC on the bench. The fact that Corey Addai played in the Under 23 game against Birmingham suggests that Charles-Cook will make the squad for this game, however.

Prediction

Top of the (daft) table and two clean sheets in a row should be enough to bolster squad confidence entering the game. That’s great and something I know I value, but misappropriated confidence can also be dangerous. We don’t know what sort of team we are at the moment. Winning is great and we should do all we can to harness the belief those victories can offer, but it’s important that we treat it as such. It’s belief; not a divine right or a clear indication of squad ability. Not yet. You will always have to work for wins.

Fortunately, we appear to have the desire in the right areas to ensure the requisite effort is given. The midfield partnership of Kelly and Doyle is looking very strong and another robust performance tomorrow will set us up nicely.

Naturally, I’m nicely confident of victory, especially if we maintain that ruggedness in the centre while continuing to exploit the Jodi Jones 2.0 upgrade we have at our disposal on the wings.

Coventry 3 – 1 Newport County

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