Newport v Wycombe: surprise packages

‘Da Beast’ –

These two teams have surprised a few neutrals by starting the season in such positive form. Neither club had done especially eye-catching transfer business: Wycombe had added just three players before the opening day while fan-owned Newport operated without much external investment.

It appears though that Michael Flynn has been clever with the money he has been given, particularly impressive given that this summer was his first as a manager. Joss Labadie has looked immense in midfield while on-loan Brighton defender Ben White has thrived in his first four games of professional football.

The new player that has grabbed the most headlines though has been Frank Nouble. He netted a hat-trick against Chesterfield and even showed flashes of what he can do in the 1-0 defeat at Exeter, the team’s first loss of the season. Nouble hit the post at St James’s and made a bright run to cross for Padraig Amond’s big chance.

Performances show that he is not only a great finisher – with five goals in five – he also has the capacity to score and create from outside the box. By contrast, Adebayo Akinfenwa is best-deployed inside the 18-yard-area with plenty of support, but when he is used in the right way he is devilishly hard to stop.

A team that found that out to their cost was Forest Green Rovers, who were out of the game before the 38th minute. Akinfenwa didn’t score himself in that 3-1 win but his sheer physical presence draws other players towards him and that gives his teammates space to shoot, as we saw with Anthony Stewart’s goal. Equally, Luke O’Nien has popped up with some important goals and threatens to rediscover his 15/16 form. Set pieces have led to a large proportion of the Chairboys’ goals, so much credit must go to specialist Joe Jacobson.

The left-back’s deliveries will be key on Saturday for Wycombe, while Newport will hope Nouble’s higher-league pedigree can inspire them once again.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 1-2