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On The Road: Newport County

27 January 2022

A photograph of Barrow players celebrating Lewis Hardcastle James Marsh (BPI/Shutterstock)
Lewis Hardcastle celebrates after scoring at Newport in September 2020

Phil Yelland dips into the history books to find out how The Bluebirds have fared on previous trips to Newport County ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet League Two meeting.

On Saturday we head to South Wales to meet Newport County, who were our first away opponents upon returning to the Football League in September 2020.

That was a disappointing afternoon, as despite playing well at times, defensive mistakes saw us lose 2-1. The scorer that afternoon was skipper Lewis Hardcastle with his first and only Football League goal before having to retire as a result of illness. Such a shame for such a promising and popular young player.

We had met County previously in Division Four and, more recently, in the National League.

Our 11 visits to Wales have seen us meet them on three different grounds. During the initial Football League days, our trips were to Somerton Park. When we headed to Newport for the first two of three visits in the National League it was to Spytty Park. And, most recently, in January 2013 and last season, we visited Rodney Parade, their current home which they ground share with Pro 14 rugby union side Newport Gwent Dragons.

Our first meeting at Somerton Park came on 17th September 1962. County had been relegated the previous season from Division Three and it’s fair to say we don’t remember the visit with any fondness as we went down 6-0 to a side that at the end of the season finished eleven places below us in the table. The following season, 1963/64, we finished bottom of the table and our visit to Somerton Park on 3rd February saw us lose again – this time it was 3-0.

Our first point at Somerton Park came late in the 1964/65 season after County had humbled us 4-1 at home earlier in the season. However, on 20th February we took a point in a 2-2 draw. Our first goal at the Welsh venue was scored by Ray Brennan with the second going to Roy McCarthy.

The following season, we went close to taking another point in our visit on 11th September as joint top scorer Bobbie Tait netted twice in a 3-2 defeat.

Our first win in Wales could not have come at a better time than 29th April 1967. It was the second last league game of the season, and we knew that we needed a victory to further our promotion ambitions. County were in the lower half of the table but put up a real fight. However, Roy McCarthy got the only goal of the game to ensure two vital points.

When we returned to Division Four for the 1970/71 season, for much of the time ourselves and County battled to avoid the bottom spot. We recorded our second home win of the season on 23rd January when they came to Holker Street and there was hope that that might be part of a revival. Three weeks later, on a miserable Friday night in mid-February, we headed to Wales in a match covered later in the Sunday Times magazine as part of a feature on the Club. Goals from Ron McGarry and Eddie Garbett gave us a 2-1 lead, which we squandered and lost 3-2. We finished bottom as County continued to revive – and they eventually finished third bottom.

Our trip there the following season on 13th November was memorable for the fact that it was our first outing following the sacking of Manager Don McEvoy. Director Bill Rogers was in caretaker charge as we lost 2-1. Jim Irvine gave us a first half lead but two goals from former Carlisle United striker Willie Brown, who had a spell on loan with us during the early part of the 1969/70 season, gave County victory.

Our first visit to County as a non-league side came on 16th April 2011 as we were still battling relegation. Seven days earlier we had beaten Kettering Town 5-0 at home and then we drew at Mansfield. County blew us away and were 4-0 up at half time – it could have been five but Darryl Knights who scored twice also missed a penalty. The final score was 5-0 and it could have been more.

The following season we visited on 24th September and took a point in a 2-2 draw thanks to a last-minute penalty from Richie Baker after a foul on Andy Cook. Adam Boyes had given us the lead before Nat Jarvis and Danny Rose had seemingly put County on the road to a win.

Our next trip to Wales was on 19th January 2013 when we made our first visit to Rodney Parade. We were battling against relegation and in our previous game we had lost 6-1 at Luton when we were only able to name two substitutes due to a transfer embargo. Now we faced County, who would return to the top of the table with a win, on a pitch which had been cleared of snow by volunteers on the morning of the game.

We won thanks to a goal from defender Matt Flynn just before the interval and another on the hour from on loan striker Danny L Rowe.

So, two wins, two draws and seven defeats before our trip this weekend. Let’s hope we can add to the victory column on Saturday.


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