Newport County Stats Preview – Tom Williams

The Imps look to make it 3 in a row and perhaps extend their lead at the top in the run-up to Christmas. This week’s visitors are Newport County, another playoff-chasing outfit currently occupying a spot hunted by many below them. They’ll be keen to go home with something to keep the likes of Tranmere from ruining the festivities. Here are some things to look out for:

1) The Exiles (All Newport County stats are League only)

Newport are managed by well-travelled former midfielder Michael Flynn. Flynn is a Newport native and played for the club in 4 separate spells between 1999 and 2017. He was initially appointed caretaker manager but guided the side to a miraculous escape from relegation. Since then Flynn has guided County to 11th in League Two and masterminded a draw with Spurs. His record at Newport is certainly respectable with a current win record of 43%.

Interestingly, Flynn’s pre-match comments about Lincoln include: “everybody knows it is a tough place to go, but it’s not quite like going to Liverpool. It’s not something that we need to be petrified about.” While Danny and Nicky don’t have Salah, Mané and Firmino to call on, form coming into this game may give cause for optimism. In the last 5 League Two games, Newport have lost 3 (all away from home). By contrast, the Imps are unbeaten in 5 (winning 3) and haven’t lost at home since September 8th.

Something worth noting about Newport statistically is that they’ve actually still got a negative goal difference. Bizarrely, despite being level on points with Mansfield, they’re 17 goals worse off. This is largely due to their leaky defensive record. While they’re not exactly Notts County (still averaging over 2 conceded a game), 34 conceded in 21 games isn’t ideal for a promotion challenge (16 more than the Imps). When it comes to exploiting this porous record, City may look to strike early rather than our usual late flurry. 39% of Newport’s conceded goals have come before the 20-minute mark.

They’ve also not travelled well this season. They currently sit 16th in the away table with a position largely made up of results gained at Rodney Parade. In fact, they’re currently 4th in terms of relative home performance compared to away averaging over a point more at home than on their travels.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

2) Not Matt Green

For the first time in what seems like an age, the Cowleys will not be able to call on trusty Matt Green for this fixture. The energetic striker has made the move we all feared was on the cards. While we won’t be seeing him this weekend, I wanted to dedicate some space to a player who will surely be remembered fondly for his attitude, goals and endeavour.

Despite being a bit-part player this campaign, much like Palmer before him, Green has racked up an amazing amount of appearances. Despite a minutes total of just 35%, only Harry Anderson has appeared in more games this season. However, as we all know, he’s not started much with 18 of his 26 outings coming off the bench (by far the highest amount of the squad – Rhead is next with 12 substitute appearances).

Despite rarely starting, Green still weighed in with some goals and assists. His record of 6 goals and 3 assists is impressive given his game time and gives him the enviable total of a goal contribution every 109 minutes (second only to the prolific Jamie McCombe – 1 goal in 67 minutes). When the season comes to end, we may well look back on his winner against Northampton on the opening day as a vital 3 points. For that, and every other appearance, thanks Greeny.

3) A different approach with substitutions

With City unable to register a replacement for Green until January, we might see an alternative way of using substitutes from the management team. Green’s energy off the bench has been a vital part of City’s gameplan this campaign – something demonstrated by the fact Matt has come on 7 times in our last 10 matches. It’s not just defensive running too, City have gained +5 goal difference after Matt Green has been introduced with us only losing a goal once (and even that didn’t affect the result).

Without this option, it will be interesting to see if the Cowleys feel with necessitates a change of tactic (perhaps adopting a deeper approach when leading until a replacement is sourced) or if they will ask another player in the squad to fill the role. To be honest, unless we deem Adebayo-Smith to be ready for League Two, I don’t see many candidates. Perhaps the only real one would be Shay McCartan but removing him from his current role would either mean a change of tactics or pushing the likes of Pett or Frecklington on from their successful deeper roles.

It will also intrigue me to see how this affects Rhead’s appearances. He has built a good relationship with his fellow Mansfield Matt and they’re often viewed as tactically inseparable. Do the Cowleys share this view?