This weekend, we welcome National League Eastleigh to Rodney Parade in the third round of this year’s FA Cup. They will be the third National League side we have welcomed in the competition, following our wins in the previous two rounds against Oldham Athletic and Barnet.
Graham Coughlan named an unchanged side for our trip to Sutton on New Year’s Day, but there was the notable return of Harrison Bright on the bench. Bright had spent the first half of the season on loan at Barry Town United, and he will be looking to make an impact now he has returned to Rodney Parade.
"It’s going to be a real tough game but a test we’re all looking forward to as a club”, he said during his pre-match press conference.
“Every challenge is different and every challenge is there to be met but it is going to be a really difficult one for us tomorrow. It will be a great occasion, nevertheless. Newport County is in the third round of the FA Cup, something that us and the supporters should be proud of.
“Eastleigh are a strong proposition. They have got the top marksmen in the National League and he was a player I tried to bring to Southend when he was a young kid at West Ham, so that’s a real positive for him.
"They are free free-scoring side who score at will. They flood balls into the box and have a real technician in Chris Maguire who’s been at Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland so he carries real pedigree.
“They’ve got some really good players, they’re a threat at set-pieces and they are a real dangerous team. They’ve got a lot of football league experience and they always ask questions of you, so we’re expecting a difficult prospect.
“It should be a test for both teams. We’ve had that stern test in the early rounds against Oldham and Barnet so we should be experienced enough now to know what’s coming and our fans will know how tough it will be tomorrow.," concluded Graham.
You can watch Graham Coughlan's full pre-match interview HERE.
Eastleigh have been one of the most exciting sides to watch in the National League season. However, their free-flowing style has come at the expense of consistency, with unpredictable results becoming their forte. The Spitfires are currently 11th in the National League, three points off the playoffs after an explosive Christmas period.
Their last outing ended in a 4-4 draw with Dagenham and Redbridge, hot on the heels of a 4-1 loss to the same side just three days previous. National League leading goalscorer bagged a hattrick in the 4-4 draw, taking his total for the season to 22.
He will be partnered up front by former Barrow striker Scott Quigley. The two men have forged a formidable partnership, with Quigley hitting nine goals of his own. Eastleigh are the fifth highest-scorers in the division, hitting the net 46 times this campaign.
However, they are shaky at the back, having conceded 15 goals in their last six games, including eight in their last two.
You can secure your ticket for Newport's FA Cup clash HERE.
Last Time Out
You must dig through the archives to find our last encounter with Eastleigh. It came all the way back on Wednesday, February 10th, 2010. In front of just 745 fans, we wrapped up a confident 4-1 victory over the Spitfires to cement our place at the top of the National League South.
Craig Reid handed us the lead from the penalty spot after 20 minutes before Sam Foley doubled it with a spectacular effort just two minutes later. The hosts grabbed a goal back through Staforde Palmer, but we bounced back quickly through our second penalty of the evening, this time courtesy of Charlie Henry.
Sam Foley completed his brace in the 82nd minute, heading home from a Henry free kick to put the icing on what was a very sweet victory in Hampshire.
Head to Head
Competitive games against Eastleigh have been few and far between, with our only league encounters with the Spitfires being in the aforementioned 2009/10 season in the National League South. On both occasions, we came away as comfortable victors. First, we defeated them 5-1 at Rodney Parade before following up with the 4-1 away victory mentioned above.
Played for Both
While there will be no former players from either side lining up on Saturday afternoon, there have been several faces that have played for both Eastleigh and Newport County over the years.
One of the most recent examples is Tristan Abrahams. Tristan signed for us in 2019, going on to make 56 appearances and score eight times before signing for Carlisle United in 2021. He would sign for Eastleigh in 2022, appearing for the Spitfires 27 times, before joining Welling United this season.
A player signed directly from Eastleigh was Jamie Turley in 2016. The defender played for Eastleigh 49 times but failed to get his career off the ground at Newport due to injury struggles.
Other notable names to have played for both teams include Craig McAllister, Ryan Burge, Ryan Bird and Lewis Payne who had a brief spell with the Spitfires.