‘We were on a really good run but safety was more important’

Wessex League Division One side Newport are still waiting to hear when their new ground near the Racecourse Roundabout, will be ready for them to move in.

Newport ground-shared with Island rivals East Cowes Vics throughout the season that has just ended, after their former St Georges Park site was earmarked fo development. They were hoping their new facility would be ready by Christmas, but disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have now placed a question mark on when it might be available.

Wherever Newport play their home games when the new season eventually kicks off, manager Andy Sampson (pictured) his hoping his team can carry on where the left off in March, and make a serious challenge for promotion to the Wessex Premier League.

Following an impressive run of eight wins and two draws from December 14 until the season ended prematurely on March 7, Newport looked to be on course for a top four placing that would have earned them promotion.

Sampson said: “Of course it was disappointing and frustrating that we couldn’t finish the season, because I genuinely thought we could get promoted. We were on a really good run and confidence was high, and we all believed we could have finished in fourth place, which was the realistic target. With the teams we had still to play, we had a really good chance, but of course the safety of everyone was far more important than us getting promoted.

“But we have to take confidence from how we finished last season into the new one. The important thing is to have a settled side, as we did when we went on our good run, and all the players who played for us last season have re-signed, with the exception of Lewis Wright, who has joined Cowes Sports.

“Lewis is an ambitious young lad who wants to play in the Wessex Premier, and see how far he can progress from there. He is a great lad and I wish him all the best. But Joe Butcher, who joined us just before the shutdown, and did not actually play a game, has decided to stay with us, which is a big bonus. All the lads are raring to get going again, but we still cannot train together as a team because of the restrictions, so who knows when the new season might begin.”