Just the one point from a trip to the Midlands in midweek. Now let’s see if we can triple that haul as we swing by South Wales; the lush cityscapes of Newport (Gwent) next on the recent Boro’ roadshow. Did we lack a killer instinct at Vale Park? Or was it a solid draw in as things are currently looking. It’s hard to tell. What we do know, though, is that the gap between us and those below us is starting to narrow. Not least as all three teams there have games in hand.
So, it often comes down to where you see us at this point in time. We’d prefer to be much higher up the table and rolling in off the back of a victory. But we’d also prefer for our Ford Fiesta to be an Aston Martin DB9.
If we could offer the lads only one tip for the weekend, sunscreen would be it. No, OK – of course it wouldn’t. You need to have woken up in 1997 to get that reference. But that’s not to say we don’t have a genuine tip for the guys. And it’s this: wear long studs, chaps. Long studs. The state of the Dave Parade pitch is something else. Not sure if they’re planting a bumper haul of crops for the autumn harvest with how much it has cut up. It’ll make for an interesting game of football, that’s for sure. Ah well, it’s the same for both sides.
At least we don’t have to pay for the Bridge any more.
The Details: Newport County v Stevenage
Where’s the game?
It’s not quite on the South Welsh riviera. But it’s not as if we’re looking for five-star beach resorts here. Dave Parade is next up on the League Two stadium checklist for the 2020-1 season. Some people insist on calling it Rodney Parade. Not sure why…
Can I watch Newport County v Stevenage?
To watch all the action live, all it takes is a decent internet connection and a tenner of your hard-earned wedge. An iFollow Match Pass is your digital ticket and turnstile into this one.
How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?
It’s hard to sniff at a return of three defeats in 12 League Two games since the turn of the year. For a side that was supposedly red hot tips for the drop earlier in the season, it’s the sort of form that can land you a top half finish across a season. Yet, how many of the five draws in that time could’ve been wins? How much further clear of danger could we be? It feels harsh to be more demanding. But just one of those draws being wins puts us 16th.
As we mentioned before our trip to Port Vale, we seem to permanently exist in a state of being on 12 points from the last eight games in the SoccerStats.com form table. And we continue to creep up the away table too – albeit from 16 games, which no other side has played more than on the road. Our defence is also currently the sixth best in the division. We’re still far behind the 30-goal mark in attack though, which is taking its toll on us.
… and how are the Exiles doing right now?
Back at the start of the season, the Exiles were flying; their October win here was one of five-in-a-row that month. December, however, was dismal. Between 12 December and 30 January, they went on a streak of eight without a win. It took a 1-0 win at home to Grimsby Town to halt that slide, before their victory over Walsall last time out ended another mini-barren run of three without success.
It’s one reason why you’ll currently find the Exiles further down the form table; picking up just one more point over the last eight outings than Barrow or Southend United. But that’s not to say they’re ripe for the picking. At home, they’re still an unwelcoming host (and not just because of the pitch). Only three other sides have a better record indoors, while their defence is as mean as ours. That said, they have conceded in 71% of their home games.
So, there’s risk and reward for Boro’ when we go down to Dave Parade this weekend.
Our story with Newport County so far
Like a good few other head-to-head records, our story with the Exiles looks lop-sided after the 2019-20 season ended early; the Welsh side not able make home advantage count as Boro’ claimed a point at Dave Parade in December 2019. Our overall record looks good to be fair. We’ve won six out of our 12 encounters up ’til this point – but you’ll have to go back to January 2019 three games ago for our last win.
At their place, our record is bouncier than a Kenny Dalglish-endorsed ball. Before our last trip across the Bridge, we lost out to a 98th-minute Antoine Semenyo winner for our hosts. The time before that, however, went in our favour courtesy of a Chris Whelpdale goal with two minutes of the first half remaining. Looking back on all our trips to Dave Parade, Boro’ have won twice, drawn twice, and lost twice. Which way is the balance going to tip here?
Who’s the referee in charge?
Mr Bell isn’t the most well-known face to us; the Sheffield-born official taking charge of just one Boro’ match so far. And there are amends to be made after he oversaw our 1-0 defeat to Forest Green Rovers back in October. But we don’t hold grudges, and we’ll give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Let’s not make the same mistake again, please Mr Bell.
This ref is certainly putting the yards in himself this week. After making sure all was above board in Sunderland’s home win over Fleetwood on Tuesday, Mr Bell faces a torturous trip down from the North East. That was his 20th appointment of the current season, which we think is par for the course at this stage of proceedings. His cards have made appearances all over the shop too; 61 bookings and six reds is his current count.
Mind you, two of those came in Blackpool’s 1-0 home defeat to Charlton in October. And one of those was in the first minute! Best behaviour is advised from the off, chaps…
Last Time Out: Forest Green Rovers 1-0 Stevenage, 17 October 2020
Newport County v Stevenage: Our verdict?
Looking at how we’re both doing at the moment, Boro’ have every reason to head to south Wales with confidence. But who knows what the surface will be like, and what gifts it may have to give? A no-/low-scoring draw is our best guess right now: 0-0.