Newport County v Plymouth Argyle – Tuesday 8th April 2014

Visitors Plymouth are looking to get their late surge into the playoffs back on track and welcome forward Lewis Alesssandra back into the squad from injury . Apart from his goals, Alessandra is an important player as his quality on the ball allows Plymouth to retain possession in the opposition half. Plymouth have won just one point from a possible 9 in his absence, and are now 5 points short of the final playoff spot with tonight’s game in hand.

The return of Alessandra and possibly winger Jason Banton may explain why the Plymouth price has shortened a touch over the last couple of days in the market, as well as the loyalty money for the well supported Pilgrims who expect to take an impressive 1000+ fans up the M5 tonight.

However with the Rodney Parade pitch in such a poor state Plymouth manager John Sheridan has confirmed that Alessandra is unlikely to be risked from the start. And Sheridan was very unhappy with his sides’ performance in losing at Burton at the weekend. Everybody loses 1-0 at Burton, but Sheridan’s beef seemed to be his sides in ability to play the ball out from the back, which he attempted to rectify at half time with the aggressive decision to replace one of his centre backs.

If you are in poor form you aren’t really going to fancy a trip to Rodney Parade under the lights with the boisterous home crowd behind the Exiles. I’ve witnessed this as I saw my team Oxford succumb to their first away defeat of the season in February in Wales.

It could be argued that Newport’s season is now over, having got a point at title hopefuls Chesterfield on Saturday to give them the 50 points which history suggests should see them safe from relegation. It may be for this reason that the Newport price has drifted a little in the market in the last couple of days for this match. What was a promising first season in League Two for Newport has ultimately been undone by the pitch postponements and resulting fixture backlog, coupled up with key injuries and suspensions at crucial times.

They showed plenty of endeavour in drawing at title hopefuls Chesterfield at the weekend however, and that was without suspended international defender Darcy Blake who Justin Edinburgh can recall to the starting line-up tonight. A win tonight would surely confirm the Exiles safety. Newport miss Adam Chapman’s endeavour and passing range in midfield through suspension, but if they return to their 352 formation they should still maintain central midfield superiority with Ryan Burge an able and similarly neat and tidy creative replacement. However Edinburgh switched to a 442 on Saturday which seemed to work well so he may stick with that.

If Plymouth are static, Newport are good at finding space between the lines. It is in defence and in goal that Newport are weak, they do seem susceptible to conceding silly goals in matches they should win against the division also-rans. They have a decent record against sides that are supposed to be better than them.

I rate Plymouth as marginally the better side but Newport do have home advantage. Whilst home advantage doesn’t count for as much in League 2 as it does in other leagues, it is still a factor. Neither of these teams are in great form but momentum is slightly in favour of the hosts after the weekend results.

With all this in mind I price this game up at Newport 2.45, the draw 3.3, and Plymouth 3.4.

With best prices of 2.55, 3.4 and 3.1. I perceive value in the home win and the draw and will therefore be backing the home side with a draw saver.

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