County hoping for a relegation boost while sidelined in League Two after gap closes

FRUSTRATED: Graham Coughlan's County side have three weeks without football <i>(Image: Huw Evans Agency)</i>
FRUSTRATED: Graham Coughlan's County side have three weeks without football (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

NEWPORT County AFC will endure a three-week spell without football but their League Two fate will be shaped while they kick their heels on the sidelines.

The Exiles’ game against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon was postponed because of a frozen pitch at Rodney Parade.

The surface was covered but temperatures in the city got so low that the game could not go ahead, with the Dragons’ Sunday game against the Lions shifted to Ystrad Mynach.

Graham Coughlan’s side watched with interest as League Two results came in and will do the same on Tuesday night and next weekend, when Grimsby’s FA Cup run means another Saturday off.

County, who are on a six-game winless streak with four draws on the spin sandwiched by losses to Doncaster and Carlisle, started Saturday afternoon seven points above the drop zone.

They ended it six ahead after important wins for the bottom two of Hartlepool and Gillingham.

Pools, featuring County stalwart Matty Dolan in the XI after his January loan move north for family reasons, beat fellow strugglers Rochdale.

Goals from Josh Umerah and Jack Hamilton secured the spoils for Keith Curle’s side while Dale now prop up the table, with their miserable afternoon compounded by red cards for Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Sam Graham.

Gillingham and Colchester have already splashed the cash in January and it was the former that enjoyed a 2-0 away win in Essex.

The Gills have been goal-shy this season but climbed off the bottom of the table thanks to first half goals by David Tutonda and recent big signing from Crawley Tom Nichols.

County are next in action when they welcome Swindon to Rodney Parade on Saturday, February 4 – after the transfer window shuts – and could either be dragged right into a relegation scrap or get a lift.

There is midweek action on Tuesday when Hartlepool travel to Carlisle, Colchester entertain Salford and Crawley host Grimsby.

On Saturday, Crawley host Salford, Harrogate have home advantage against Sutton, Rochdale entertain Carlisle, Gillingham travel to Swindon and there is another key clash in Hartlepool when they host Colchester.

Coughlan said before the Wimbledon postponement that he wasn't looking down at the relegation scrap.

“I always look up,” said the boss, whose side last won at Crewe at the start of December.

“I believe we were in a relegation fight when I took the job on and at this moment in time you don’t look around you or behind you, you look at yourself.

“If we can perform well then I am sure lady luck won’t turn her back on us forever and we will get those results.

“The lads have been performing well and I am pretty confident this group will pick up results.

“We can only control our own play and team selection, we can’t be looking around at what others are or aren’t doing.”