Newport - Rodney Parade
22/2/14 Newport County vs Cheltenham Town (LD2) 0-1 3,130
I had to make a visit to both Swindon and Gloucester on the Friday with my work so was able to fit in a visit to Rodney Parade in at the same time. After staying overnight in Gloucester, I caught the train to Cardiff, where I was able to meet my mate Dave for a pint or two before going back to Newport. Nice to taste that Skull Attack once more! Up until last Tuesday Newport hadn't played at home since the beginning of January, due to the high amount of rainfall causing a waterlogged pitch. So Dave offered me a ticket to see Cardiff City play Hull City if it was called off, but in the end it went ahead OK on quite a nice sunny day.
After getting a train back to Newport I then walked the half mile or so from the station to the ground, with a few Newport fans that had come from Cardiff on my train. It's on the other bank of the River Usk and quite easy to find, though it's in the middle of terraced houses. It is actually the ground of Newport Rugby club, so there's a large expanse of green grass before you get to the ticket office, which is at the side of the north and Bisley Stand stands. I have a ticket for the Hazell Stand which can be reached through a gateway on my right.
The Hazell stand is covered with a low roof, so if you're at the back you can't see all of the opposite Bissel stand which is quite colourful with its mixture of yellow, red and black seats - shades of Watford here! At the front of the Hazell Stand is a section of terracing and quite a large crowd of fans go here including the singers. At either end are uncovered stands, the north stand being standing, whilst the south stand is for away fans, as is the far right side of the Bisley Stand.
Fans in my stand share the toilets and catering which is a hot dog stand, though I do spot a bar as well. I don't know if any try to get into the seats after having paid for a standing ticket, but the stewards don't bother checking my ticket as I go into the stand. Nor do they search my bag which had a plastic bottle with it.
There are around 200 Cheltenham fans which is disappointing considering it is almost a local derby. They don't seem to sing either. The Newport fans do sing though in anticipation of the teams coming out and they toss in the air several blow up sheep which looks quite hilarious! There's also a Newport mascot - a dog called Spyfy K9, who looks quite funny with his long hanging ears. He encourages the children on the pitch to wave their flags as the teams come out. Newport play in amber whilst Cheltenham are in maroon.
The first half was fairly even to begin with no side really dominating. You would have thought after Newport's win over high flying Oxford the previous Tuesday that they would have been up for a second win on the trot. In fact there were some poor errors from both Newport attackers who missed some early chances and it was poor Newport defending which allowed Cheltenham into the game. This meant they were able to get the only goal of the match on 23 minutes when Jermaine McGlashan passed the ball from the corner flag across the box for Ashley Vincent to tap in from close range.
A handful of Cheltenham fans celebrated by leaving their seats and going towards the pitch, but the stewards were quick to stop them and then a few police became involved and escorted two fans out. A few minutes later I saw a police van leaving the ground with its blue lights flashing. Whether there was a connection here, I don't know, but a bit heavy handed if it was. Cheltenham tried to get one back but again poor finishing let them down.
I was sitting at the back near a guy who seemed to be doing a commentary on the game presumably for a radio station or perhaps as a the commentary for the blind. So at half time I had a chat with him and found out that he was doing the stats for the football league. He was also a scouser from Birkenhead so we exchanged stories as I told him about doing the 92 and some of the grounds I had visited.
In the second half Newport looked more determined and piled the pressure on Cheltenham, creating plenty of chances. The best was a long range effort from Wilmott for Newport. But Cheltenham held their nerve, with a strong defence who stopped all the attacks, especially in the last few minutes.
It was definitely a more entertaining second half, though it would have been nice for Newport if they could have got an equalizer or even a winner.
When I got back to Newport station there were quite a few police about seeing the Cheltenham fans back onto their train, but it was all peaceful. Then on my train back to London I was sitting next to another "92er", Colin, who was a Gillingham fan. We exchanged a few storied before going our separate ways at Paddington. I finally got home about half nine after another enjoyable visit to South Wales.
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