FA CUP PREVIEW: Luton Town v Newport County AFC

Luton Town FC. Stock images.
Luton Town FC. Stock images.

Newport County AFC are finally beginning to hit their straps this season after a thoroughly depressing start to the campaign.

The Exiles suffered defeat in their opening four league and cup games, stopping the rot with a 1-1 home draw against Burton Albion.

A first victory came at Portsmouth in their sixth attempt, while since then, results have picked up significantly.

In fact, Justin Edinburgh’s side have only lost once in their last 13 league games, picking up six wins and six draws in that time.

It could have been even better too as Newport were leading 2-0 at Hartlepool with just 10 minutes to play last weekend, only to concede two late goals.

The run has seen them rise to eighth in the table though, with Edinburgh in the running for the October manager of the month award, a gong that was taken by Town chief John Still.

The Newport supremo recently called on fans to show their support for his improving side as after 3,634 supporters turned up for the opening day home fixture against Wycombe, a mere 2,558 witnessed the win over Southend last month.

He told Wales Online: “I think as a team we can’t do any more, I don’t understand how we can have 3,600 for the first home game and now we’re getting 2,500. I don’t know where those 1,100 floating people have gone. It amazes me.”

Team news: Hatters will be without Ross Lafayette once more, while Alex Lawless and Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu are both doubts as is striker Ricky Miller as he needs to have some teeth out.

For Newport, Darren Jones will captain the side after regular skipper Andy Sandell was sent off last week.

County will also be without the injured Adam Chapman, while Kyle Patten is cup tied following his loan spell with Bath City and on loan Joe Pigott will not be eligible to play either.

However, Scott Tancock, Joe Day, Curtis Obeng and James Loveridge all have permission to play from their parent clubs.

Ryan Jackson and Mark Byrne are also back in the squad following injuries, but ex-Luton winger Robbie Willmott could be out for the season after suffering a foot injury, while Danny Crow and Rene Howe are both missing too.

Top scorers: Hatters: Mark Cullen (8). Exiles: Chris Zebroksi (5).

Man in the middle: Christopher Sarginson - has taken 11 games so far this season, showing 36 yellows and two reds, with this the second time he has taken Newport, officiating their 3-2 win over Northampton.

His first visit to Kenilworth Road since November 2010 when he took Luton in the FA Cup once more, as they saw off Corby 4-2 with goals from Taiwo Atieno (2), Matthew Barnes Homer and Claude Gnakpa, sending off the visitors’ Nathan Jarman on 25 minutes.

Also had Luton’s home 1-1 draw with Chester in League Two back in September 2008, dismissing City’s Kevin Roberts, while later that year, he reffed Luton’s 2-0 win at Notts County.

In charge: Justin Edinburgh - 44-year-old who made his name as a left back at Southend, before moving to Spurs for £150,000 where he made over 200 appearances, winning an FA Cup winners medal in 1991 too.

Joined Portsmouth for £175,000 in 2000, while then became player manager at Billericay in July 2033, retiring from playing soon after.

Left in 2006 to manage Fisher Athletic and then took over at Grays for a year in January 2007 and eventually becoming Woking boss in 2008.

In October of the same year, he was appointed assistant boss at Rushden & Diamonds, while in February 2009 took the permanent job, leading the club to the play-offs.

When the club were expelled from Conference in summer of 2011, Edinburgh left, before being appointed as Newport County boss in October 2011.

Masterminded the Exiles to safety and an FA Trophy final, before the following season, saw Newport win promotion to the Football League via the play-offs, where they are now in their second season.

View from the opposition: County defender Darren Jones told the South Wales Argus: “We’re all excited about the FA Cup. It’s such a great competition and obviously in round one you are so close to the third round draw and the chance to play one of the big boys.

“Luton away is a tough draw for us because they’re one of the best sides in League Two and they’re in great form.

“But we’re in decent form too and we’re confident that we can go there and get a result and make sure we’re in the hat for the second round draw on Monday.

“We’re really looking forward to what should be a great cup game at Luton with a big crowd and a lot of away fans backing us.”

One to watch: Chris Zebroski - experienced 28-year-old striker is Exiles’ leading scorer this season, netting five times, including three in his last five games.

Bagged 13 goals for the club last year, while he has had spells at Bristol Rovers, Torquay, Wycombe and Millwall amongst other during his career to date.

Friendly faces: Ex-Town winger Robbie Willmott went to Newport from Cambridge in January 2013 and has played 84 games, scoring 13 goals for the club although hasn’t featured since October 11 due to injury.

Striker Aaron O’Connor moved to Newport from Luton in August 2012 and has scored 23 times in 63 games so far, including three this term.

Forward Danny Crow also left Luton for Newport in June 2012, netting eight times in 65 games, featuring just twice this season due to injury.

Meanwhile, Luton defender Fraser Franks spent time on loan at Newport in the 2011-12 season, playing just once, that a 2-0 defeat at Lincoln in the Conference Premier.

We’ve got FA Cup form: Luton have played Newport County a number of times over the years, especially in the 1920s/30s, but this will be their first ever FA Cup meeting.

Last time out: Luton were pegged back twice as they drew 2-2 with Newport when the two teams were in the Conference in April 2013.

Andre Gray had put Town ahead after 12 minutes, before then Hatters’ target Christian Jolley equalised early in the scond half.

Gray made it 2-1 on 79 minutes, only for Jolley to level again with six minutes to go.

Hatters: Dean Brill, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Scott Griffiths, Steve McNulty, Alex Lawless (Jake Howells 65), Jon Shaw (Alex Wall 66), David Martin, Matt Robinson, Jonathan Smith, Solomon Taiwo, Andre Gray,.

Subs not used: Mark Tyler, Jake Goodman, Dan Walker.

Attendance: 5,125.

Referee: Michael Bull.