FA VASE 4TH ROUND PREVIEW NEWPORT (IoW) v BRADFORD TOWN
On Saturday, 6 January, at 3.00 pm, Newport face their biggest challenge of the season so far: a home tie against Western League outfit, Bradford Town, in the fourth round of the FA Vase.
Victory will take ‘the Port’ to within four games of reaching Wembley (semi-finals are played on a home-away basis), thereby emulating their previous best performances in the Vase, having reached the fifth round in 1991–92 and 1992–93.
The winning team will be the richer to the tune of £1,875. Current odds (Bet Victor) give Newport a 6/4 chance (40%) of winning the tie over ninety minutes, with Bradford Town odds-on favourites at 10/11.
Let’s look at the league position and form of both sides to see whether we can pick a winner, starting with the island team.
Newport currently lie in 20th place in the Wessex Premier league. Current form is indifferent, with the home side not having won since 9 December (3-2 v Hamble) in a run of two defeats followed by a creditable away draw against high flying Lymington Town. Furthermore, ‘the Port’ will be going into the game following a two-week break due to the weather: the Boxing Day fixture against Cowes having fallen foul of the weather. It remains to be seen whether the enforced rest will recharge the batteries or leave the team short of match fitness. Newport will be without two key players: Liam Newbold in defence and Liam Triggs in midfield, both, regrettably, cup-tied.
Fortunately, ‘the Port’ have shown far stronger form in various cup competitions, having reached the quarter finals of the Wessex League cup, and having had a run of five straight victories in the Vase itself. One of these victories came at the expense of one of Bradford Town’s rivals, Hengrove Athletic, who play in the same league and division as ‘the Bobcats’, and were comprehensively beaten 6-2 in the second round.
Bradford Town (also known as ‘the Bobcats’) have had a more impressive season than Newport in their respective league, and are currently second in the Western Premiership. Their form has not been so impressive of late, having drawn their last match 3-3 (30 December) against mid-table Bitton, and lost the game before that (26 December) 1-3 against local rivals, Melksham Town.
‘The Bobcats’ best performance in the FA Vase came in 2014–15, when they reached the 5th round. Their 3rd round game in the Vase saw them beat Wessex League Team Solent 4-0 on 2 December. Coincidentally, Newport had beaten Team Solent less than two weeks previously, by the same 4-0 scoreline, which suggests the two sides may be evenly matched.
Let’s hope for a great atmosphere for the game with a 200+ crowd. Fans of ‘the Bobcats’ will certainly be making their presence felt, with the team coach having been sold out for supporters, and others, according to Bradford Town’s web-pages, making the journey down from the West Country by road and rail.
Could ‘the Port’ or ‘the Bobcats’ go all the way. Please note that our local rivals Sholing did so only four years ago, actually lifting the Vase at Wembley. Impossible is nothing.
The respective journeys of the two sides to the 4th round are shown below:
First Qualifying Round
Newport IoW 5-2 Fleet Spurs (Wessex 1)
Second Qualifying Round
Newport IoW 2-1 Alresford Town (Wessex Premier)
Newport IoW 5-0 Bovey Tracey (Peninsula 1)
Newport IoW 6-2 Hengrove Athletic (Western Premier)
(Western Premier) Buckland Athletic 1-2 Bradford Town
(Wessex 1) Christchurch 0-1 Newport IoW
Bradford Town 4-0 Team Solent (Wessex Premier)
****UPDATE – 05/01/18****
St Georges Park was subject to a 3:30pm pitch Inspection today (5th) where the pitch has been deemed to be in an unsafe playing condition/waterlogged due to the adverse weather the Isle of Wight has suffered over the past week or so.
The 4th Round FA Vase game against Bradford Town will now be rescheduled to Saturday 13th January for a 3pm kick off.