MANAGER James Rowberry hopes that home comforts can help Newport County AFC mount a promotion challenge.

The Exiles have a weekend off after being knocked out of the FA Cup and are recharging their batteries ahead of a key period in League Two.

County sit ninth in the table, two points off the play-offs and six off second-placed Northampton.

They return with a home fixture against Sutton United and, after starting the season on the road because of work on the Rodney Parade pitch, will enjoy a home swing.

“We've now got 15 home games to 12 away games. Those home games will come important around March for us to move forward,” he said.

County have played just eight games in Newport and are averaging 1.5 points per fixture on home soil.

After 1-1 draws at Crawley and Colchester last week, they have picked up 16 points from 11 games on their travels at an average of 1.45.

Last season County picked up 44 points from their home games (two at Cardiff City Stadium) at an average of 1.91. On their travels they picked up 29 at an average of 1.26.

Of the Exiles’ 19 games so far, 15 have been against teams that they faced last season and they have six more points from the fixtures in the comparison with the 2020/21 promotion bid.

Rowberry felt his side missed big opportunities for precious away wins in Sussex and Essex but is content with his first block as boss.

“It’s two results on the road that we have had two draws, so it’s 11 points out of 18 since I have been here,” said the former Cardiff City coach.

“That averaging 1.83 per game and I would have taken that at the start if you asked me; three wins, two draws and a defeat in my first games.”

County face the traditionally busy December with Sutton on Tuesday followed by Port Vale (home), Rochdale (away), Forest Green (home), Leyon Orient (away) up to Walsall away to start 2022.

Rowberry is trying to get across his principles on the training ground but won’t be pushing his players too hard over the coming days.

“We will have a break, players and the staff, and it’s deserved after the intense period that we have had,” he said.

“We will reflect and come back as a collective to move forward with two home games against Sutton and Port Vale.

Sutton will be very similar to Crawley, so we need to be ready for that, while Port Vale are challenging at the top of the league.”

County have a bloated squad and on the prospect of playing a friendly for those that haven’t had much game time, Rowberry said: “Maybe in the middle of December but it’s been such an intense period with travelling that the lads deserve some time off and it’s important for them to have time with their families.”