Newport County: Inflatable cover protects pitch before key FA Cup match

Air blower at Rodney Parade Newport County
The air blower used to inflate the new pitch cover at Rodney Parade Newport County
FA Cup 2nd Round replay: Newport County v Plymouth Argyle
Venue: Rodney Parade, Newport Date: Wednesday, 21 December Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, online, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.

Newport County are using a special pitch cover at Rodney Parade to ensure their FA Cup replay with Plymouth is not a victim of the weather.

With a trip to Liverpool the prize in the third round staff are battling to protect the playing surface.

County have had three home games postponed or abandoned this term.

The club has also received a report outlining a number of recommendations to deal with drainage issues with the pitch.

The English Football League sent a specialist company to the ground to inspect the surface after their home game against Morecambe on was abandoned.

Newport County
Ground staff battled to ensure Newport's last home game with Morecambe went ahead only for the referee to abandoned the fixture at half-time

"The experts have produced a report outlining a number of recommendations covering both the short and long term which has been shared with all parties," Newport said in a statement.

"The club has also discussed the findings of the report with the Football League and will be putting a plan together with Rodney Parade to address the recommendations."

Newport County, who share Rodney Parade with Newport Gwent Dragons and Newport RFC, have had had major problems with drainage and saw their last home League Two game against Morecambe abandoned at half-time due to standing water.

The replay with Argyle is to be televised and postponement could have a knock-on effect when it comes to the Anfield fixture which is also scheduled to be shown on TV.

The cover, which has been used previously at Brighton's Amex Stadium, is domed and inflated by air pumps to keep the surface free of rain.

"Club officials have been working closely with the FA and staff to ensure the game goes without any issues," said Newport chairman, Gavin Foxhall.

"The Dome has been at the heart of those discussions given recent problems with the pitch. Our thanks go to all involved."

Newport manager, Graham Westley, said he expected the match to go ahead, but was critical of Newport RFC who own Rodney Parade, for not ensuring drainage was better.

Graham Westley
Graham Westley took over at Newport in October, but the Exiles are still on the bottom of League Two

"The powers that be have got some protection in place on the surface," Westley told BBC Wales Sport.

"I don't think anyone's got any doubts that the game will go ahead. But the weather is the weather, you can't control it.

"The surface is a rugby pitch. It's got a rugby pitch's drainage and it fills up with water and it floods. It's not suitable for football.

"It needs better drainage if it's going to house football matches. You would expect the owners of the pitch, if they agree a ten-year deal to host football matches, to have the drainage in place to host football matches."

The pitch cover is inflated at Rodney Parade
The pitch cover is inflated at Rodney Parade

Newport set up the replay, and the potential money-spinning clash with Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, thanks to a battling 0-0 draw against Plymouth at Home Park.

The match was followed by controversy when Westley attended a press conference whilst Argyle boss, Derek Adams was still speaking to reporters.

Adams apparently then stormed out when he realised Westley was present.

But the Newport boss said as far as he was concerned there were no problems between him and Adams.

"I don't care if he shakes my hand or doesn't shake my hand," added Westley.

"I'm a polite person, I shake every manager's hand.

"If he doesn't want to shake my hand, he does not want to shake my hand, but I'm a gentleman, so I will."

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