Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Newport, Swansea and Cardiff supporters pull out their maps for the new season

Fans of Welsh football clubs in the English pyramid were rushing to their computers at 9am this morning as the fixtures for this season were released.

Newport and Cardiff diehards in particular would have been beaming to see a host of new names on the list after achieving respective promotions last season, while Swansea fanatics would have been anxious to discover who they could be playing so soon after potentially long mid-week trips in the Europa League.

Newport’s return to the Football League after an absence of a quarter of a century sees them given a home fixture first against Accrington Stanley as part of the Football League’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

The League’s newest club (and newest ground) will host one of its founding members as part of the festivities, which gives Exiles fans the chance to welcome the club back in to the Football League with a vociferous backing.

Just three days later, they travel to Brighton in the Capital One Cup or League Cup first round, a competition many young fans won’t ever have seen them play in before. Parallels can be drawn between the two sides’ nomadic recent existence, and the County hierarchy may be dreaming of emulating Brighton’s climb up the divisions.

They then travel to Northampton and face Severnside rivals Bristol Rovers at home in what could be a tough opening month.

Boxing Day sees the Exiles travel to Wycombe before a game at Burton just three days later, while they close their campaign by going to York on April 26 before facing Rochdale at Rodney Parade on May 4.

Cardiff City will begin their first top flight campaign in over half a century with a trip to West Ham United, where Malky Mackay had his first game in charge two seasons ago in the Championship when Kenny Miller sent the travelling fans in to hysterics with a last minute winner.

They then face dethroned champions Manchester City in the Welsh capital on August 24, and welcome Roberto Martinez’s Everton to the Cardiff City Stadium on August 31, which will be big tests for both those club’s new managers.

Boxing Day sees Southampton come up to South Wales, while Cardiff’s end to the season is equally tough should they require results as they make the long trip to Newcastle on May 3 before Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea roll in to town for the season’s climax on May 11.

For Swansea the start couldn’t be more difficult, as they welcome Premier League champions Manchester United under new boss David Moyes to the Liberty, before travelling to take on a Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham Hotspur in their second fixture.

The Swans face a difficult Christmas and New Year period where they take on Everton, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Manchester City, United and then Spurs in just under a month, but the end to the season looks a little easier with home games against Aston Villa and Southampton before going to Sunderland on the final day.

They will also learn their Europa League qualifying round opponents when UEFA make the draw on Monday.

Meanwhile, Wrexham are awaiting the release of the Conference fixtures on July 5 as they prepare for another season at that level after play-off final defeat to Newport at Wembley last month – their third successive play-off defeat.

All fixtures are of course subject to change when TV commitments, Cup runs and European commitments come in to consideration.


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