Paul Simpson looks ahead to Carlisle United's trip to Newport County

·3-min read
James Rowberry's Newport take on Paul Simpson's Carlisle tomorrow (photos: PA / Richard Parkes)
James Rowberry's Newport take on Paul Simpson's Carlisle tomorrow (photos: PA / Richard Parkes)

Paul Simpson says Carlisle United cannot afford to take Newport County’s poor form for granted as the Blues head to south Wales this weekend.

The Exiles have lost their last four games in all competitions, and have been beaten in four of their five home matches in the league in 2021/22.

Blues boss Simpson, though, feels United must be on alert for Newport’s form to turn again.

And he has also told his players they must be able to deal with a hostile home crowd at Rodney Parade.

“I think they’re a good side but they’re on a bit of a dodgy run,” Simpson said.

“They’ve lost the last four games but before that they’d won four on the spin as well.

“The league, and your form, can change quickly. We have to start this game right.

“It’s never an easy place to go, they’re never a friendly crowd against English teams, so we have to weather that storm and hopefully we can put on a performance that helps us get a positive result.”

Simpson was checking on the fitness of Kristian Dennis and Omari Patrick before making the trip to Wales today.

They will take on James Rowberry’s side who lost key men such as Dom Telford and Finn Azaz in the summer.

Ex-Carlisle striker Offrande Zanzala joined but is currently injured, with former Hartlepool United man Omar Bogle leading the line.

“I think they’ve had a few injuries, looking at their team selections,” added Simpson of a club whose sporting director is the former Carlisle defender Darren Kelly.

Darren Kelly (photo: Halifax Courier)

“Some of them back into it on Tuesday [against Forest Green in the Papa John’s Trophy] so it was a good opportunity for them to get players fit again.

“At this moment I don’t know what shape they’re going to play and what personnel. I’m going to have to try and make an educated guess on what I’ve seen – they’ve gone 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and played with a back three, which you do when you’re trying to find that winning formula.

“I think they’re a good side. I thought they were very good last season.

“I don’t really know the ins and outs of the problems last year. They could be close to going on a good run again and we have to make sure we don’t allow that to start this weekend.”

Newport, as pointed out by the South Wales Argus, have only scored first in one of their 13 games so far this campaign.

Simpson, though, says that does not have any impact on his own wish for Carlisle to start the game on the front foot.

“It doesn’t add any extra because I’ll be drumming it into them, just like the players have been talking about starting games properly and better,” he said.

“Unfortunately we’ve allowed too many teams to score that first goal. I think it’s so important.

“It’s probably a real common sense statistic. The first goal is such a massive one to get in games, especially if you’re in poor form like they are, or poor run of results, you’re going to get a massive lift if you can get the first goal.

“We want to score the first goal, we want to play on the front foot on Saturday, go and get about them, get them turned, have our runners getting in behind them, and hopefully have goalscorers on the pitch who can get us a goal.

“Their form, that doesn’t come into this weekend’s game as far as we’re concerned. Our preparation will be right.

“Unfortunately no game is ever won by form on paper. It’s won on the grass. I’m really pleased with how the Newport pitch looks after a couple of years of it being quite poor, it looks fantastic. It’s up to our players to go and play on it.”