Newport County v Pompey: The Insider

Graham Westley
Graham Westley
Curtis Main in action for Pompey against Reading under-23s in last season's Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Joe Pepler  PompReading PPP-160510-131550001

Pompey question: Will you attend the Fulham under-21s Checkatrade Trophy game?

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BOTTOM of the Football League at Christmas, it clearly hasn’t been the best of seasons so far for Newport County.

Graham Westley produced an upturn in form upon arriving, going on a seven-match unbeaten run having lost his first two matches.

However, reality has hit during the last few weeks in terms of results and injuries.

Last Wednesday night they lost to Plymouth in the FA Cup, with the winners to play at Liverpool, which was proving a bit of a distraction to the players.

Certainly I believe it affected league form in the past few weeks.

It is now about how they react to that crushing disappointment and picking themselves up for the challenge of the league.

In a top versus bottom tie at Rodney Parade, Newport’s players gave it everything, you couldn’t fault their commitment and really pushed Plymouth all the way.

Westley’s side can take heart from that 1-0 extra-time defeat in which a defensive error settled the FA Cup replay.

Under Warren Feeney, there was a big clear-out in the summer, with 15 players arriving, but he was sacked in September.

We also expect quite a bit of movement in next month’s transfer window as Westley seeks to get rid of a few and bring in more experience.

The main man at present is Rhys Healey, on loan from Cardiff, who is the top scorer with six goals in 20 appearances.

Unfortunately he is returning to the Bluebirds on January 2, when he is likely to go out to either Plymouth or Carlisle.

Another impressive loanee has been Josh Sheehan from Swansea, a creative midfielder who has netted five times.

Pompey fans will be familiar with Dan Butler, who arrived from Torquay in the summer on a two-year deal.

However, his time with the Exiles has been very up and down and he could well be moved on next month.

He gave the penalty away in the 1-0 defeat against Grimsby which preceded Feeney’s September sacking and has made a few mistakes.

Butler has offered quite a lot going forward, but does make errors in defence and is now out of favour following a good run in the side under Westley.

The pitch is not great at the moment and it is only going to get worse as the weather deteriorates.

If today’s game is on it is not going to be a great spectacle – the playing surface is very bobbly. This has been an issue for three or four years.