Exiles facing fixture pile-up
NEWPORT County AFC face the prospect of playing four games in eight days in the Blue Square Bet Premier title run-in after tonight’s match at Gateshead was postponed because of snow.
The game has not yet been rearranged but Gateshead are already playing catch-up and do not have a blank Tuesday night between now and the end of the season on April 20.
That means the Exiles are likely to have to make the trip to the north east on a Thursday night.
County’s only free Tuesday is on March 12 but Gateshead are away at AFC Telford United that night and unless tonight’s match is resheduled for March 14 Justin Edinburgh’s side would be forced into playing four times in a week.
In total they must play 15 matches in the last 50 days of the campaign. That situation has angered Exiles midfielder Max Porter, who believes the fixture pile-up could potentially end up costing the club automatic promotion back to the Football League.
Gateshead are playing most of their remaining home games at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park ground after their own pitch was deemed unplayable.
But with Pools at home to Crewe Alexandra tonight and no other local venue available, it was decided to try to play the County match at the International Stadium, only for the weekend’s heavy snow to intervene.
“The whole situation is a shambles,” said Porter, who is hoping to be fit for Saturday’s trip to Hyde.
“The league should have a look at it because we are the ones who are potentially going to suffer.
“Wrexham, our promotion rivals, got to play at Hartlepool but they wanted to play us on the bog at Gateshead.
“Now it looks like we’ll have to go there on a Thursday night and play Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.
“That happened to Newport a few years ago in the Conference South and they missed out on the play-offs and it could cost us promotion again.
“Hopefully we’ll deal with it and get the win,” he added.
“We know if we win all our games we win the league, but this situation is an unfair disadvantage to us and a real test of the strength of the squad.”
County director Howard Greenhaf has sympathy for Gateshead’s predicament having suffered similar problems with the Spytty Park surface last season but he believes all clubs should be treated equally by the Conference.
“Gateshead are in an unfortunate position but I think it was unfair for them to arrange to play some games at Hartlepool and not others,” he said.
“We were not allowed to move some games to Rodney Parade last season because we were told there had to be fairness of competition.
“You can’t have one team playing on a good surface and another on a poor one.
“It has to be a level playing field and that doesn’t seem to be the case here.”