Promotion chasers Newport County and Bradford City will go head-to-head in Sky Bet League Two tomorrow right at the Cardiff City Stadium – you read that correctly, the Cardiff City Stadium.
On March 4, Newport were granted permission by the EFL to host their next two league games in the Welsh capital to escape their on-going pitch problems at Rodney Parade. The plans to replace the surface in the summer with a new hybrid alternative were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the current muddy and ‘Sunday League’ type conditions.
Newport’s Priestley Farquharson used to play international football for the England beach soccer team, and with the amount of sand that is currently on their problematic pitch, you would be forgiven for thinking that the defender was back in familiar territory.
However, it’s not the first time that the Exiles have suffered surface issues throughout their time at Rodney Parade.
At the earlier stages of the season, County were loving life at the top of the table and looking to continue their sensational home form over the Christmas period, but after a couple of key loan players returned to their parent clubs and numerous Dragons Rugby games were played in tough conditions, the Exiles have fallen to sixth in League Two.
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Due to their pitch, the Welsh side have been the figure of ridicule ever since they were promoted to the EFL in 2013 – when the pitch issues really started to emerge. County manager Michael Flynn told the South Wales Argus that temporarily moving to the CCS is a “big boost” and “going out and playing on the [Rodney Parade] surface is demoralising because of the way that we want to play.”
It’s not the first time that the Bluebirds have been a helping hand for Newport in recent years. In May 2019, the Exiles were without a training ground as Spytty Park was scheduled for maintenance work. Therefore, ahead of their League Two play-off final, Cardiff City gave Newport the green light to use their top-class facilities ahead of their Wembley fixture.
County will face Leyton Orient at the same venue on March 20 but will return to Rodney Parade after the two fixtures.