If I were to don my best accent and say ‘gobaith a gogoniant’ would you know what I was saying? ‘gobaith a gogoniant’ is Welsh for ‘hope and glory’ and that is exactly what the Stags need tomorrow, hope of seeing a game through to the very last whistle, and glory in the form of three points.
The south-wales outfit have been the shining example of how to turn yourself around, many predicted Newport to crash back into the conference towards the back end of last season as they went through managers like a pot of Pringles (once you pop, you just can’t stop).
However when they appointed First Team Coach Micky Flynn as caretaker boss, he masterminded the ‘Great Escape’ taking the club from being 11 points adrift at the bottom of the table, to safety by two points, with a dramatic 2-1 win over Notts County thanks to a 89th minute winner.
Newport, with Flynn as permanent manager, are now continuing to fly having recruited well with the likes of Pádraig Amond and Frank Nouble – they’ve win seven of their fourteen games thus far to climb to sixth in the table.
Their treat comes in the air, they like to get the ball wide and ping crosses into the danger area – should Steve Evans stick with three at the back tomorrow (which I believe he should, more on that in a moment), Hayden White and Mal Benning must not stray too far forward, they must stop the crosses and the team as a whole, must focus from set-plays and watch the long throw which they love to utilise time and time again.
The Stags made progress with three at the back on Tuesday evening and if Evans can get the team selection right tomorrow, I’d stick with it and build on it. I’d go with the same back three, you will really see Paul Digby start to shine in that back three, although if Mirfin is unable to recover from his back spasm, I’d have no problem with Rhys Bennett in there, he’s a terrific central defender as he proved last season.
I’d be tempted to swap out Hayden White for Alfie Potter, moving MacDonald from that central attacking role to a wing back role, he’s a battler who does not stop running, he is a very good defensive player with attacking flair – I think MacDonald in the right wing back slot would shore us up against Newport’s deep crossing game as Hayden White often goes for a wonder around the park and gets lost in the trees.
Including Potter would really add fire to our counter attacking game getting box to box, something we’ve been missing – I’d also be tempted by Jimmy Spencer to come in and be the hold up man, backing into the Newport defence and bringing the likes of Potter, Atkinson and Butcher into play and opening up the gaps.
One factor which will play a huge part, and could even see the game not go ahead at all, is storm Brian. The high and strong winds will not favour Newport’s deep direct game, but in the same respect, could also put us under pressure if we’re playing into the wind.
It’s a big game for a number of reasons, non-more so than Mansfield Town thus far have been playing half asleep, they’ve been nowhere near the standard they can be and we’ve frankly been a huge let down. On Tuesday I felt we did enough to win and looked brighter in the new system, had Evans brought on fresh legs earlier we might have brought home maximum points.
If we play that way on the counter again but stay focussed and dominant at the back AND stay switched on for the full match, we’ll go toe to toe with Newport and give them perhaps their toughest test of the season. We just have to go out and work hard, soak up the pressure and take our chances when they come, this can be the turning point.
Fail to do so coupled with a defeat to Notts County on Tuesday and we may be in a little too deep to swim to where we want to be. But, let’s be positive here – it is in our hands… ‘tri phwynt’… that’s three points in English! COME ON BOYS
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