Can Justin's Edinburgh's side make the step up from non-league?
Our second preview of the day is on Newport County. They're back in the Football League after a 25 year absence and will hope to make their mark in 2013/14. To find out when we face County, visit the official website on June 19th.
Welsh Cup winners in 1980, Newport County subsequently reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup a year later. The club was relegated from the Football League in 1988 and went out of business in 89. Shortly afterwards, the club reformed and entered the English football system at a much lower level, finally achieving promotion to the Blue Square Premier in 2010/11. The club returned to the Football League in 2013.
As a player, Basildon-born Justin Edinburgh began his career with the Blues in 1988. He spent two years at Roots Hall before joining Tottenham Hotspur originally on loan, before making that move to White Hart Lane a permanent one. The defender made over 200 appearances for Spurs in a 10 year spell, winning both the FA Cup and the League Cup, but moved to Portsmouth in 2000 for a fee reported to be £175,000. His time on the south coast didn’t go as planned with Edinburgh making just over 30 appearances in three years prior to heading into non-league to become player/manager at Billericay Town in 2003. He hung up his boots in 2006 to concentrate on the management side of things at the Essex side. He then moved on to Fisher Athletic and then Grays Athletic prior to spending two seasons in charge of Rushden & Diamonds. He reached the Blue Square Premier play-offs in his first season with Rushden in 2009/10 but they lost to Oxford United. After Rushden’s liquidation in 2011, Edinburgh wasn’t out of work for long, taking over from Anthony Hudson as manager in 2011. Last season, the 43-year-old earned the Manager of the Year accolade.
In goal for the Exiles will be the much travelled Lenny Pidgeley. The 29-year-old has had spells at Chelsea, Carlisle United, Exeter City and Bradford City and was a regular in the County side in 2012/13. In front of Pidgeley, Welshmen Byron Anthony, Tony James and David Pipe will be options for Justin Edinburgh, along with former Barnet and AFC Wimbledon centre back Ismail Yakubu. The midfield places will be battled out between ex-AFC Wimbledon duo Lee Minshull and Max Porter, the latter, who came through the Blues academy. The experienced Michael Flynn and recent purchase Adam Chapman, make up the midfield selection for Justin Edinburgh. Up front, the choices are vast; former Peterborough United striker Danny Crow should play a part, however, Christian Jolley, another recruit from AFC Wimbledon, Rhys Griffiths, Robbie Willmott and new signing Chris Zebroski, can also be utilised.
Keeping hold of top scorer, Aaron O’Connor was a vital piece of business by Justin Edinburgh. O’Connor, who signed on a free transfer from Luton Town in 2012, scored 19 league goals in 2012/13 to help County reach the Football League. He was out of contract at the club this summer but Edinburgh moved swiftly to tie him down to a two-year contract. The 29-year-old has previously had spells at Scunthorpe United, Grays Athletic, Rushden & Diamonds and Mansfield Town.
Last season was a memorable one for everyone involved with Newport County. An excellent start saw County win their opening five games of the season. Their form tailed off slightly but the club were fighting at the top of the table all the way through the 2012/13 campaign. Newport eventually ended the season in third place, with a culmination of 85 points. It was Newport’s first season in the new stadium, Rodney Parade and they had made the play-offs, beating Grimsby Town 2-0 on aggregate. This meant a trip to Wembley Stadium for an all-Welsh Final against Wrexham. The deadlock in the winner takes all game was finally broken by Christian Jolley in the 86th minute. Aaron O’Connor added a second four minutes later as Newport won promotion to the Football League.
A number of players have already signed new deals with the Exiles. Ismail Yakubu, Aaron O’Connor, David Pipe, Tony James, Byron Anthony, Mike Flynn, Lenny Pidgeley and seven others have all agreed new terms with the club. Two players have agreed to ply their trade at Rodney Parade for 2013/14; Chris Zebroski and Adam Chapman. Zebroski arrives are playing for the likes of Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town and Torquay United in League 2, whereas 23-year-old Chapman has joined from Oxford United. Former County player, Wayne Hatswell has rejoined the club as first team coach.
BLUES vs. NEWPORT COUNTY
The two sides haven’t met since 1983/84. That season saw Blues beat Newport 3-1 at Roots Hall, the game at Newport ended in a 1-1 draw.
Newport County are 8/1 to win promotion this coming season.