Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

West Ham United have never met Newport County in the League Cup before, so today’s focus falls on the only previous cup encounter between the two clubs. West Ham have previously met Newport twice in league action, the Hammers recording a 3-0 win at Upton Park in February 1947 and sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw two months later in south east Wales.

Currently the only cup encounter featuring the two sides, however, came in front of 14,124 on 9th January 1979 in the FA Cup third round – The Village People were number one with ‘YMCA’, Jaws 2 topped the UK box office and Michael Aspel had just presented the first episode of ITV’s Give Us A Clue. Fourth Division Newport were welcoming Second Division West Ham on this Tuesday night due to the previously-scheduled Saturday game being postponed because of snow – indeed, the Hammers were to only play two matches in January 1979 as a result of the inclement weather.

This ‘welcome’ at Somerton Park included Newport removing all lightbulbs and toilet rolls from the West Ham dressing-room and giving the visitors deflated footballs to warm up with. The hosts took an early lead when former Bournemouth and Swindon forward Howard Goddard headed them in front after 14 minutes but the Hammers were level just seven minutes later when ‘Pop’ Robson struck a beauty from distance – if you skip to 14:54, you can see this goal by clicking here. Robson would be West Ham’s top scorer in 1978/79 with 26 goals from 42 appearances – it would be his final campaign with the Hammers before returning to Sunderland. He would also be voted runner-up to Alan Devonshire in the Hammer of the Year voting at the end of the season.

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The winning goal came in the 81st minute, and went to the Fourth Division hosts – Mervyn Day, who would make only two more appearances for West Ham before leaving for Leyton Orient, failed to deal with a cross and striker Eddie Woods converted scrappily at the far post to secure a home fourth round tie against Third Division Colchester.

Len Ashurst’s side secured a 0-0 draw against their Essex-based visitors but lost 1-0 in the replay. Arsenal would win the 1979 FA Cup Final, beating Manchester United 3-2 at Wembley. Newport, meanwhile, would go on to finish eighth in the Fourth Division while the Hammers would end the 1978/79 season in fifth place in the second tier. The following season would bring greater joy for both clubs, with Newport winning promotion to the Third Division and the Hammers winning the FA Cup.

Sadly, the Newport full-backs who played that night are no longer with us – former Aldershot and Sheffield Wednesday right-back Richard Walden died in November 2009 at the age of 61, while Irish international and ex-Southampton and Hereford left-back Tony Byrne passed away aged 70 in June 2016.

Newport County: Gary Plumley, Richard Walden, Trevor Thompson, Grant Davies, Tony Byrne, Dave Bruton, Keith Oakes, Nigel Vaughan, Steve Lowndes, Eddie Woods, Howard Goddard.

West Ham United: Mervyn Day, Frank Lampard, Alvin Martin, Billy Bonds, Paul Brush, John McDowell, Trevor Brooking, Alan Devonshire, ‘Pop’ Robson, Alan Taylor, David Cross.

Club Connections

Players who have represented Newport County and West Ham United include:

Defenders: Alf Lee, Phil Brignull.

Midfielders: Bobby Weale, Bill Edwards.

Strikers: Tudor Martin, Wilf James, Frank Nouble.

Today’s focus though is on a winger who spent half a season with West Ham United before moving to Newport County. Bill Charlton was born in Sunderland on the 10th October 1900 and began his career with South Shields (later Gateshead) shortly after the end of World War One. The brother of former Fulham and Carlisle full-back Edward Charlton, Bill signed for Syd King’s West Ham United on the strength of several impressive displays against the Hammers.

The 21-year-old outside-right made his Hammers debut in a 2-1 Second Division defeat to Bradford at Upton Park on 26th August 1922, the opening day of the 1922/23 season. Charlton (pictured) played the first eight matches of the campaign, helping the Irons to two wins and two draws from those eight fixtures. He was eventually replaced by Welsh international Dick Richards who went on to play 43 matches in what would prove to be a promotion-winning campaign for West Ham as they earnt the right to play top flight football for the first time in the club’s history and also reached the first Wembley FA Cup Final.

Charlton’s time at the Hammers, however, came to an end before that promotion was sealed. His final appearance in claret and blue came in a 2-1 defeat at Stockport on 30th September 1922 and by the end of that year, after failing to score in his eight West Ham appearances, he had moved to Newport in exchange for another outside-right, Bill Edwards. Charlton scored 19 goals for Newport in 89 league matches between 1922 and 1924. A brief spell at Cardiff followed before Charlton enjoyed the most successful spell of his career, scoring 72 goals in 130 matches for Tranmere from 1925 to 1930. He brought the curtain down on his career with a spell at Workington. Bill Charlton died at the age of 80 in his hometown of Sunderland on the 20th June 1981.

Referee

Tuesday’s referee will be Stephen Martin, who will be taking charge of his second match involving West Ham United. The Staffordshire-based official was the man in the middle for the Hammers’ 1-0 League Cup third round home win over Accrington in September 2016.

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Martin has refereed three Championship games this season, issuing nine yellow cards and no red cards, and awarding no penalties. His first refereeing appointment was in November 2010.

Possible line-ups

Newport came from behind twice in the last round before winning a penalty shoot-out against League One Gillingham. 24-year-old goalkeeper Nick Townsend has been second-choice behind Tom King this season but he was County’s hero in that shoot-out at Priestfield and is expected to retain his cup place. 38-year-old manager Michael Flynn, a former midfielder with Gillingham and Bradford, had three spells at hometown club Newport as a player and has managed County since 2017. The club missed out on promotion to League One last season, beaten in the last minute of extra-time in the Play-Off Final against Tranmere. Newport, who beat Crewe 1-0 on Saturday, are currently fifth in League Two and are unbeaten this season. 28-year-old Scot Bennett is back in contention and 26-year-old midfielder Matthew Dolan is available after coming off with fatigue during the weekend win over Crewe. 29-year-old striker Jamille Matt, who led the line and scored when Newport knocked Leicester out of the FA Cup last season, and 28-year-old midfielder Joss Labadie are both struggling to be fit in time to take on their Premier League visitors. The goalkeeper for last season’s cup heroics, Joe Day, was also named in the 2019 PFA League Two Team of the Year but has since signed for Cardiff.

West Ham United are likely to hand a debut to new striker Albian Ajeti. Winston Reid and Javier Hernandez are unavailable, while Manuel Pellegrini is expected to make some changes for the Hammers’ first ever trip to Rodney Parade. Spanish goalkeeper Roberto could make his debut in goal. West Ham’s Development Squad travel to Newport on 4th September for a group match in the Leasing.com Trophy.

Possible Newport County XI: Townsend; McNamara, O’Brien, Howkins, Haynes; Dolan, Sheehan; Willmott, Amond, Whitely; Abrahams.

Possible West Ham United XI: Roberto; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Sanchez, Noble; Antonio, Fornals, Anderson; Ajeti.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!