On Saturday, Sam Houldsworth will be in the opposition dugout when his former side Pontypridd travel to current side Newport City.
The two sides met earlier in the season, in which Sam was in the Pontypridd dugout, as The Dragons won 6-1 on the opening day of the season.
In the space of a few months though, all has changed with Sam firstly becoming a joint manager at Newport, before becoming sole manager just a few weeks ago. With the club near the bottom of the table, Houldsworth feels it is important that the club is now under sole managerial-ship. He is also looking to bring in his own people to the coaching staff.
“I think the main thing is having a management team which are on the same page and that is very hard to find.
The team needed new players and when you have new players mixed with old, they need to have a structure with who is in charge. It is why I think that one person should be in charge.
I am hoping to announce my new Assistant Manager and First Team Coach after the Ponty game, it will provide me with that extra support which is vital.”
With the Christmas break coming up, Newport will be without a few players as they return to their families for the period. Central midfield partnership Matthew Flynn and Robbie Jones picked up injuries in last weeks game. Callum Smith is a doubt after picking up an injury during the build up of the free-kick which resulted in Newport’s winning goal.
Newport will be consigned to the bottom at Christmas but Houldsworth is optimistic for the new year.
“We have an aim to focus on the 2nd half of the season now and with plenty of points to play for I am still confident.
As a club we have definitely progressed since my arrival. We were on the back of some heavy defeats. My first game saw us beat Abergavenny 3-2. We have a lot of new signings so it will take time to gel but when I first came in till now, we are definitely heading in the right direction.”
In their last fixture against Croesyceiliog they picked up three points, their first after their points deduction. They will look to go into the Ponty game with the same mindset.
We were very good against Croesy, our defence were excellent. However we were up against a team who played long ball very well.
We need to keep the same approach as we did last week when we had the ball. The lads played with confidence and it was the best game I have watched so far. I would like to see more of the same against Pontypridd.
We need all of our players to turn up and put in everything they have, if that happens then we always have a chance.
We aren’t expected to get anything from this match, so we will be working on the basics to give us the best chance.”
With Houldsworth’ experience at the club he is able to pinpoint the strengths and weakneses in the Pontypridd side. Luke Gullick and James Hill were identified by Houldsworth as players that are likely to pose a threat to Newport.
“I would like to think it would help, my time at Pontypridd. I know Luke Gullick and James Hill are quick but it doesn’t mean I can stop them. I know what areas the management will be focusing on when it comes to our team, but putting a plan to stop them is another thing.
James Hill, Luke Gullick and Matthew Hibbs have the potential to be the best attack in the league and we need to make sure they don’t get the ball. We need to bring them down to our level, so when they leave the pitch they fel they haven’t had an easy game. All I can ask is for my players to give everything and make sure they concentrate for the full ninety minutes.”
Houldsworth sees similarities in the position that Ponty saw themselves in during his time there, but has no regrets in leaving to become his own man.
“I really enjoyed my time at Pontypridd, the first season was very tough, as we had to do all we can to stay up, similar to the task I have now at Newport.
Last season was the ebst by far, winning the league with Pontypridd will stay with me as one of my highlights in football.
I felt in that season, we couldn’t lose! The team atmosphere was excellent and the players had the drive to go out every game do what was needed to win.
I have no regrets about leaving though, coming to Newport City was the best decision at the time. I knew the time was right to challenge myself and do things my own way.
I wish Pontypridd all the best and hope they manage to gain promotion this season as this will be the biggest opportunity they have, as they are riding the wave of last season’s success.”