Preview: Harriers v Newport County
Harriers should finally be back in action this afternoon when Newport County are the visitors to Aggborough for a 1pm kick-off.
Thanks to the winter conditions Harriers have only managed to get one game in so far in the month of December and haven't played a Conference game since York City were the visitors to Aggborough in November. Steve Burr has a squad of players straining to be unleashed but he still does not have a full squad available; Mike Williams is still out with his foot problem while Lee Vaughan is suspended. Jamille Matt has a hamstring problem and faces a late fitness test before the game. Ollie Thorne will be hoping for a recall to the side to face one of his former clubs, although having joined them in the summer from Forest Green he never actually played a game for Newport. Having not played a league game for nearly a month Harriers have slipped out of the play-off positions, thanks to today's visitors who managed to get a game in and dropped points at Fleetwood who jumped over Harriers into fifth place.
Dean Holdsworth's team could feature a number of ex-Harriers with Robbie Matthews, Darryl Knights, Lee Baker, Paul Bignot and Sam Foley all in the squad although Baker has yet to make his debut for the club having been injured since pre-season. County are enjoying their first season in the Conference and are riding high in fourth place; they are unbeaten in four games and have drawn their last two on the road.
Earlier this season County were comfortable victors over Harriers at Spytty Park, taking the game 3-0; in previous years, before Newport had their financial problems and had to reform, Harriers had the better of encounters between the two sides winning six and drawing four of 12 before this season. The last, and only, time that Newport won at Aggborough was in the Herefordshire Senior Cup in 1952.
I expect Harriers to line up as follows (4-4-2): Lewis; Shaw, Griffiths, Briscoe, Sharpe; Hankin, Briggs, Byrne, Gittings; Morris, McPhee.
Subs (from): Albrighton, Wright, Blair, Matt, Thorne, Thompson-Brown, McPike, Stevens.
Missing (suspended): Vaughan.
Missing (injured): Williams.
Missing (on loan): Hadley.
This afternoon's referee is Mark Heywood from Cheshire. This will be his fifth time in charge of a Harriers match and second this season. He was in the middle for the game against Mansfield earlier this term that was lost 3-1 while previously he has overseen two Harriers wins and another defeat.
The weather forecast for this afternoon suggests that kick-off time will see drizzle, which is already falling, and a temperature around 6°C.