Newport County played their final pre-season game in preparation for their 2023/24 League Two campaign yesterday, a game at Rodney Parade versus League One side Cheltenham Town.
The game ended in a draw, with both teams scoring in a competitive match. As expected, the game’s primary purpose would have been fitness, but aside from that, what did we learn from the 1-1 draw?
Higher Defensive Line
Newport played a much higher defensive line throughout the game than fans would have been accustomed to in the previous campaign with manager Graham Coughlan. This gave Newport more options when going on a counter-attack. Again, this was something that was a breath of fresh air for the supporters, who have been worried that the team cannot create chances at times.
New Captain Contender?
One of The Exiles’ newest recruits, 26-year-old Ryan Delaney took the captain’s armband for the first half of the game. He seemed to be quite vocal and was able to command his fellow defenders to be able to hold the Cheltenham attack back. This was a surprise as it had seemed that experienced defender James Clarke or midfielder Scot Bennett were the frontrunners to take the armband. Despite Clarke taking the armband in the second half, it now brings up a new question of who will be captain going into next season.
Exiles Need To Be More Clinical
Despite Newport having the ball in the Cheltenham box quite a few times throughout the game, The Exiles only found the net once thanks to new signing Seb Palmer-Houlden. This was a recurring problem in the 2022/23 season which will need fixing if Newport hopes to improve on their 15th-placed finish last season. The usual target man Omar Bogle wasn’t present for the game and it was evident due to the inconsistent finishing of chances. Newport County will surely need to look into the market for another attacker who will promise guaranteed goals.
Pre-Season Has Served Its Purpose
For most teams, Pre-season fixtures are used as an opportunity for players to regain fitness and sharpness in preparation for the competitive season, and it’s clearly worked for Newport. Apart from a few tired legs towards the final five minutes of the game, fitness levels and intensity rarely dropped. This is a very positive thing for Graham Coughlan and Joe Dunne to take from the game as they are always vocal about wanting the players to give it their all.
Players To Keep An Eye On
Throughout the game, the entire team impressed me, and all fulfilled their roles to a very high standard. But, there were a few players that caught my eye in particular: Kyle Jameson, for his immense work ethic in the first half, especially; Ryan Delaney, for taking the captain’s armband and remaining so calm throughout the game; Aaron Wildig, due to his presence all over the pitch, including his involvement in some tackles; Bryn Morris, who provided some cutting passes throughout the game and was all over the field; and Seb Palmer-Houlden, for being so influential up front. His presence was rewarded when he scored in the 60th minute.