Matt Dolan’s last gasp equaliser was one of the highlights of the FA Cup so far. It has provided a welcome distraction from Newport’s struggles in the league, can they complete the job and dump Championship promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough out of the competition?
Newport have struggled immensely for form, they have just one victory in their last eight league outings as they scraped a 1-0 win at home to Exeter the week prior to the trip to Middlesbrough.
Their last league victory before that was back in November, in between the two league wins their only successes have come in cup competition, most notably the 2-1 victory over Premier League Leicester City. The cup run has put smiles back on faces at Rodney Parade and provided an escape from some very lacklustre performances. Tuesday night’s hosts have scored just two goals in their last four games.
If ever there was a venue for a giant killing, Rodney Parade is about as stereotypical as you can get. Middlesbrough will be apprehensive at the prospect of playing on, what is effectively a rugby pitch. Uneven, full of bobbles and likely to be churned to pieces after a quarter of an hour. In the previous round Leicester faced the same issue, it made the game very scrappy and allowed Newport to stop Leicester playing.
The hosts will be hoping for much of the same, they’ll look to turn this contest in to a slog, a real physical battle, rather than one of slick attacking football. It’s not just a subjective advantage; despite their poor league performances, the Welsh side have only suffered defeat in front of their own fans twice this season. They have taken only three less points at home this campaign than League Two’s top side: Lincoln City. Newport are priced at 2.55 to qualify and 3.75 to win the match in 90 minutes.
Both sides have been heavily reliant on their forwards this season. For the Championship outfit, it has been Britt Assombalonga, and to a slightly lesser degree: Jordan Hugill. Assombalonga has scored 11 times this season, with Hugill finding the net seven times. ‘Boro haven’t been the most prolific side this season, scoring 34 times in their 29 league games. If the strikers don’t fire, the Teeside club could be in for a difficult evening. Both are available at 2.75 anytime and 6.0 to score first.
Newport’s talisman is Padraig Amond, who has scored 16 times this season and assisted a further five. His strike partner has also pulled his weight, with 13 goals Jamille Matt has complimented Amond superbly. The Jamaican target man is a real handful, and will no doubt be exploited by Newport to put pressure on the Middlesbrough defence by using his physicality. The deadly Newport duo are priced identically, both are available at 8.5 first and 3.6 anytime.
Unlike the hosts, Middlesbrough have found much more success away from home. They have only been beaten twice on their travels, keeping a stern defence as well, conceding just 13 goals in their 15 away trips in the Championship this season. They have averaged an impressive 1.8 points per game, making them one of only two sides in their division to have taken more points on average away from home than in front of their own fans this campaign. If you fancy the away side to put these stats in to practice, you can back them at 1.44 to qualify and 1.91 to win in 90 minutes.
With Newport being strong at home and ‘Boro having success on the road, it could be a very tight affair. The pitch and conditions are likely to play a large part, and will even out the disparity in quality between the sides. The first encounter was very close, and for the most part the League Two side matched their opponents across the pitch. If you think the game will go the distance you can back either side to win in extra time at 6.0, either side on pens is available at 5.5. If you want to come down on one side or the other odds are as high as 14.0, which is Newport to win in extra time.
Jamille Matt to score anytime @ 3.6
Draw at full time @ 3.4
Either side to win on penalties @ 5.5