PREVIEW: Hatters out to heap more misery on Exiles

NEWPORT County AFC have found their second season in the Blue Square Bet Premier considerably tougher than first time round as they sit one place above the relegation zone going into Saturday’s clash at Kenilworth Road, writes Mike Simmonds

County are level on points with Alfreton and Kettering and defeat could see them drop into the bottom four if other results go against them.

The Exiles had gone into this campaign with high hopes after finishing ninth last season, but manager Anthony Hudson, who was appointed when Dean Holdsworth left for Aldershot, was sacked and former Rushden & Diamonds boss Justin Edinburgh took charge.

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It hasn’t been the best of reigns for Edinburgh so far as Newport have lost their last three league matches, including to bottom side Bath City last time out, and more importantly seen club captain Danny Rose leave for Luton’s promotion rivals Fleetwood Town.

Rose had 11 league goals to his name as he was by far and away the club’s top scorer, but Edinburgh has moved to try and rectify that by bringing in former Hatter Ryan Charles on loan.

The Newport boss has also acquired left-sided player Andy Sandall from Chippenham Town, while Nat Jarvis has re-signed on loan from Cardiff City.

Edinburgh is planning more squad changes though as he transfer listed striker Craig McAllister, goalkeeper Danny Potter and utility player Tom Miller last week too.

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Team news: Hatters won’t have leading scorer Amari Morgan-Smith fit, while Dean Beckwith and Shane Blackett remain doubts, but Danny Crow and Dan Gleeson are both back in contention after missing the 5-0 win at Kettering Town.

For Newport, Sam Foley returns from suspension and Tommy Doherty (knee) is the only fresh injury concern.

In charge: Justin Edinburgh – left back who began life at Southend United before moving to Tottenham Hotspur where he played over 200 games.

Wound down his career at Portsmouth and then became player manager at Billericay Town from 2003-2006.

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Took over as Fisher Athletic boss before spending a year in charge of Grays Athletic and was then at the helm of crisis club Rushden for two years, leaving when the club ceased to exist in the summer.

Appointed Newport boss in October after Anthony Hudson left the post.

View from the opposition: Captain Gary Warren - “We are in a relegation battle.

“We let ourselves down (against Bath) but we go to Luton now and we’ve got to pick ourselves up ahead of three tough games.

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“It’s up to us now. We’ve got to show a bit of pride now and a bit more hunger to go to places like Luton and get at least a point or maybe all three.”

Friendly faces: Winger Charlie Henry, although currently out on loan with Aldershot Town, was a Newport County player the last time the sides met, scoring in the clash at Kenilworth Road.

New Exiles signing Ryan Charles joined Town as a nine-year-old and made 23 appearances scoring three goals during 2007-2010.

This year, Charles pleaded guilty to having been an accomplice in an Ebay scam and received a six-month suspended sentence, along with being fined two weeks wages.

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One to watch: Nat Jarvis – on-loan Cardiff City striker has netted four goals while with County.

Joined on-loan in September, he scored twice, before a paperwork mix-up saw him return to Cardiff, but with the window opening, he has joined on loan until the end of the season.

Scored on his return in the 3-2 defeat at Bath City.

Top scorers: Exiles - Sam Foley (5). Hatters - Amari Morgan-Smith (9).

Last time out: Hatters were held to a 1-1 draw by Newport last season in their first ever meeting.

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The Exiles went ahead on 26 minutes when Charlie Henry netted with a drive from distance, before Zdenek Kroca equalised five minutes afterwards.

Matthew Barnes-Homer missed a second half penalty, while Keith Keane was later sent off on a frustrating evening for Town.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Freddie Murray, George Pilkington, Dan Gleeson, Claude Gnakpa (Jake Howells 56), Zdenek Kroca, Keith Keane, Andy Drury, Pavel Besta, Kevin Gallen (Danny Crow 64), Matthew Barnes-Homer (Tommy Craddock 79).

Attendance: 6, 945.

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