The signing of Rene Howe in particular should excite Exiles fans, as he is without doubt a proven goal-scorer at this level having netted 28-times for Torquay in the last two-seasons. He already has a goal to his name in just three appearances for his new club and another new signing, Shaun Jeffers, will also be hoping to get off the mark after making his debut last time out in the draw at Southend.
the Exiles now have a sequence of home games where they can begin to rebuild the momentum they have lost in recent weeks
Jeffers has been very much a bit-part player for Peterborough this season but has in fact scored three goals in the seven games he has started which is a good return. Hopefully these two players will settle into life at their new club soon and start banging them in on a regular basis as Newport have to score more goals if they are to reach the playoffs this year.
Justin Edinburgh is still in charge
Perhaps the most important thing for Newport in January was that Edinburgh resisted an approach from Northampton Town to fill their vacant managers position and instead stay at Rodney Parade. The former Tottenham player has been in high demand with what he has achieved in South Wales and for the club to find themselves in 8th place having only just been promoted back into the Football League is testament to his management.
It should also be noted that if Edinburgh had left, the club might not have signed Howe as the striker had previously worked under Edinburgh when the two were at Rushden and Diamonds and has stated that his old gaffer being in charge played a big factor in his move to County.
Five of the next six games are at home
As frustrating as it has been having home game after home game called off because of the poor drainage system at Rodney Parade, it means that the Exiles now have a sequence of home games where they can begin to rebuild the momentum they have lost in recent weeks.
The team has a terrific record at Rodney Parade having won seven of the 10 league games played there this season, and perhaps it’s no coincidence that their drop-off in form of late coincides with three consecutive away games.
Penalty duty for Howe
Perhaps even more frustrating than the Rodney Parade pitch is the amount of penalties County have missed already this season…three of them! Robbie Willmott’s miss from the spot on Friday cost County all three-points away at Southend, while Adam Chapman and Andy Sandell have also missed penalties this season against Rochdale and Northampton respectively, the latter in the last minute that cost County another point.
As a result of their latest wayward spot-kick the manager has given penalty-taking duties to Howe who has a good record of putting them away. Lets hope he does because such misses have already cost County four points this campaign.
County are hard to beat
Edinburgh’s side have made themselves hard to beat having lost just seven games in the league this season. Only three teams have lost less than that and if County can keep that up then they will find themselves in the mix for a playoff place come the end of the season.
Granted we would all rather the points in the bag, but Newport do have two, three or four games in hand on their league rivals and a couple of good results will see them catch up to the teams above them. Furthermore, long-term injury absentees Byron Anthony, Max Porter and Ismail Yakubu all played in a 3-2 behind-closed-doors friendly win at Bristol Rovers earlier today and will hopefully return to the first-team set-up in the near future to give Edinburgh more options.
So all in all
It’s fair to say that County still have a good chance of finishing in the playoff places this year and hopefully give themselves a shot of reaching the dizzy heights of League One. The main aim still is to consolidate their position in the Football League, but Edinburgh and his men have proven that County can be competitive at this level.
Having looked strong at Southend last time out, hopefully the Exiles can soon pick up their first win of 2014 and restart their march on the playoffs.