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01 September 2018 Venue Vale Park Attendance

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PREVIEW | County return to league action with a trip to Port Vale

31 August 2018

Newport County AFC will be looking to maintain their impressive form in League Two when they travel to Port Vale on Saturday. The Exiles want to bounce back from their Carabao Cup exit to higher opposition, whilst the home side had a break in midweek and will hope to capitalise on that at Vale Park.

Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…

 

How they’ve fared so far in League Two

Despite only five matchdays having been played so far in League Two, only four sides have a 100% home record in the division. County are one of those teams and they will have to break the streak of another if they want to continue their impressive recent form.

It’s an interesting scenario as Port Vale have failed to win on the road throughout 2018 – 16 games in total across all competitions – but their home form has certainly counter-acted that, and they are currently two from two at Vale Park.

That starts with a comprehensive opening day victory against Cambridge United. Striker Ricky Miller had a debut to remember when opening the scoring with a free-kick worthy of winning the Daily Mail League Two goal of the weekend, whilst Tom Pope also scored twice – a penalty and a header.

They couldn’t back that result up on their travels, however, as their miserable away record continued with defeat at Colchester United. Courtney Senior broke the deadlock in Essex, and ex-Exile Ryan Jackson also opened his account for the season with goals in the first-half.

Who knows where Port Vale would be without their ability to pick up results at home. They were dangling precariously over the drop zone in March last season, but two wins at Vale Park eased their worries and they were able to finish in 20th position.

Vale have been able to transpire that home form into this campaign and they continued their positive start at home in the 2018/19 campaign by narrowly seeing off Crawley Town – Luke Hannant getting the match-winner.

Since then, the winless run on the road has continued, starting with a 2-1 defeat at Carlisle United. Hannant’s late goal ultimately proved in vain as the Cumbrians had already wrapped up the three points before then, goals from Tom Parkes and a Danny Grainger penalty doing the damage.

In their most recent game, Tranmere Rovers became the next side to secure a home victory over Port Vale. Talisman James Norwood – who has scored five of Tranmere’s six goals so far in League Two – again got the match winner at Prenton Park as the Valiants dropped to 15th place in the League Two table. 

 

Team-News

After having a break in midweek, the Valiants should have the majority of their side to pick from when they welcome County to Vale Park on Saturday.

Vale's only injury concerns come in the middle of the park with two players in a race against time to be ready for the fixture.

One of those is Manny Oyeleke, who has impressed since his move over the summer from Aldershot. The 25-year old has been hampered with a hamstring injury since his arrival, and his club have said they will not be rushing him back to action unless 100% fit.

The Valiants are also waiting to hear on the availability of Tom Conlon, who picked up a calf injury during the pre-season schedule.

Manager Neil Aspin commented: “I don't want to put Manny under pressure because he has had three injuries. I would say that, as a squad, we could do with having Manny and Tom Conlon both fit to give us other options.

“That is not any blame to the players who are playing now, but of course I want to have a few more options. So, the sooner we have everybody to pick from that can only benefit us. I think Manny has more of a chance of being fit before Tom.”

Port Vale team vs Tranmere Rovers (4-4-2): Brown, Montano, Legge, Kay, Rawlinson, Hannant, Smith (Quigley 78’), Joyce, Clark, Miller (Worrall 78’), Pope (C)

 

One to Watch – Ricky Miller

One of the revelations in League Two so far this season, striker Ricky Miller has certainly hit the ground running at his new club Port Vale to start the 2018/19 campaign.

He had a dream debut for the Valiants in their triumph over Cambridge United, scoring a world-class free-kick and winning his side a penalty in the 3-0 success.

Speaking after the match, Miller said: “"If you could write an opening day start, that would be it. As soon as I got brought down, nobody else was going to take it. I've scored a few of them in my time and as soon as it went over the wall I knew it was in.

“The goal set us up perfectly and we took full advantage of that. For the penalty, myself and Popey [Tom Pope] linked up well on the edge of the box and it was a definite penalty - if I hadn't have been brought down, I would've scored.”

This current spell with the Valiants is the latest in the 29-year old’s career that has been spent in a whole host of leagues in the English system.

After failing to make the grade in the Charlton Athletic youth system, Miller played for several clubs before being afforded his first big break with a move to Boston United at the start of the 2013/14 campaign.

That was at National League North level and the striker netted 28 goals in 46 matches as the club finished just outside the play-off places, Miller winning the league’s player of the year award after a stellar season.

Luton Town then came calling for his services in his first Football League opportunity, and after impressing on a short loan spell with Dover Athletic, was reinstalled into the first-team fold.

Coincidentally, Miller opened his Hatters account against County with a goal in an Emirates FA Cup encounter, backing that up with his first Football League goal in the following game against Tranmere Rovers.

The goals dried up from there, however, so he made a permanent move to Dover after his release from Luton. In two seasons, Miller rediscovered his scoring form and in 100 appearances, managed to net an impressive 67 goals.

That saw the 29-year old move to Peterborough United at the start of the 2017/18 campaign. But he never really settled at the club and after failing to score in 13 appearances, was shipped out to Mansfield Town on loan for the remainder of the season.

One goal in eight substitute appearances wasn’t enough to impress his parent club who subsequently transfer-listed the striker, Port Vale stumping up an undisclosed fee to bring him to Stoke-On-Trent in June.

 

Manager – Neil Aspin

It hasn’t been the easiest of managerial tenures so far for Neil Aspin as he closes in on a year in the hot seat at Vale Park.

When he took over on 4th October 2017, the Valiants were in dire straights and had only won one of their opening 11 League Two fixtures – accumulating just five points in that time and dangling precariously over the drop-zone.

Despite defeat in his opener at home to Grimsby Town, the 53-year old was able to steady the ship somewhat and a run of eight wins from 13 matches saw the Stoke-On-Trent outfit ascend to 16th position in the table just after Christmas following a 4-0 demolition job on Luton Town. 

But instead of inspiring the team, that result against the then runaway League Two leaders seemed to derail their season somewhat and they went 14 matches without another League Two success to plunge them back into the relegation dogfight.

The best thing to do in that situation is pick up points from teams around you and a much needed 2-1 victory over bottom side Chesterfield lifted the mood around Vale Park – the Valiants eventually regrouping to finish in 20th position.

As he prepares to welcome County to Vale Park, Aspin has in theory had a full season in charge of the Valiants – managing 46 matches to date – and has a win percentage of 30.4% after records of 14 wins, 13 draws and 19 defeats.

His spell in charge of the Stoke-On-Trent outfit is Aspin’s first in the Football League and comes after some remarkable results in the non-leagues of the English game.

The 53-year old joined Port Vale following two seasons at Gateshead. He led the side to league finishes of 9th and 8th respectively, clearly alerting Port Vale, who worked hard to bring him to the club.

That spell with Gateshead came after winning five honours whilst in charge of Halifax Town FC.

Aspin led them to back-to-back league titles in 2010 and 2011 before securing promotion via the play-offs to the National League in 2013. They also won the Peter Swales Shield in 2011 and the West Riding County Cup in 2013.

From his 332 games at Halifax Town, the side won 178 games and he joined the club from Harrogate Town, which was his first managerial position.

 

Stadium – Vale Park

Interestingly, County will return to a stadium on Saturday which they helped to open nearly seventy years ago.

On 24th August 1950, the original Newport County side were the inaugural visitors to Vale Park, but they couldn’t spoil the party as the Valiants secured a 2-0 victory. Walter Aveyard secured the accolade of being the first player to score at the new stadium – during a game watched by 30,196 spectators.

That is not the record attendance at the stadium, however, as the Valiants were able to get 49,768 fans into Vale Park during an Emirates FA Cup Fifth-Round defeat to Aston Villa in 1960.

In the present day and after converting Vale Park to an all-seater stadium, the capacity is somewhat lower than those two statistics and currently holds 19,052. That is the third highest in League Two, only trailing behind Stadium MK and Meadow Lane.

Vale Park also houses one of the widest pitches in the Football League. In past times, it has also been used as a multi-purpose stadium. The Stoke Spitfires (American Football) shared the ground for some games in 1985, while concerts including Motorhead have also been held at Vale Park.

Saturday’s game will be only the second time that County have travelled to Stoke-On-Trent since May 1987.

It wasn’t the greatest of spectacles, however, as neither side could find the net despite Shawn McCoulsky and Tom Pope both missing glorious chances to win the game late-on. A total of 288 County supporters travelled on that day, helping to make up an attendance of 4,013 on 24th February 2018. 

 

Meetings between the two sides in the 2017/18 campaign

 

Two stalemates between Newport County AFC and Port Vale in the 2017/18 campaign as neither side could get the better of each other in League Two.

That starts with the first meeting between the sides for 30 years when County welcomed the Valiants to Rodney Parade for Friday night football on 10th November 2017.

A dramatic second-half followed a relatively low-key opening 45 minutes that only produced one clear-cut opportunity, which saw Shawn McCoulsky see a header cleared off the line by Tyler Denton.

But the game sprung into life in the second-half as Matty Dolan opened his account in County colours with a trademark breakaway goal.

To date, it remains Dolan’s only strike for County that hasn’t been a free-kick and came after 53 minutes. It was the product of a mesmerising run from Robbie Willmott, who perfectly split both the midfield and the defence with ease, before setting the ball up for Dolan, who rifled the ball through the goalkeeper and into the middle of the net from just inside the area.

Port Vale began to grow into the game from there and after Tom Pope and Christian Montano both missed chances, the Valiants got their equaliser with ten minutes remaining through Anton Forrester.

It was exactly what manager Neil Aspin would have been hoping for when sending Forrester on at half-time, as he calmly collected a long-ball into the area unmarked, before blasting through Joe Day and into the far corner.

That was how it stayed at Rodney Parade after a pulsating affair, a draw probably the fair result after both sides took their best chance of the contest.

Read the full match report from Rodney Parade.

County and Port Vale met again just under three months later, but they again couldn’t be separated in a draw at Vale Park on 24th February 2018.

Again, it seemed that both sides mustered their best openings in the second-half of the contest, after yet another uninspiring first 45 minutes.

Valiant midfielder Michael Tonge did hit the woodwork in that time with an emphatic strike from distance, but neither goalkeeper was really called into action.

The second-half started much brighter and County came agonisingly close to an opener on 53 minutes, Ryan Boot denying Frank Nouble before Mark O’Brien saw his volleyed rebound cleared off the goal-line by striker Tom Pope.

Padraig Amond also came close twice as County tried to press home the evident advantage, but they had to leave with a point after substitute Shawn McCoulsky passed up a glorious opportunity when put clean through on goal.  

Read the full match report from Vale Park.

 

Officials

Referee: Martin Coy  

Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Parry

Assistant Referee 2: Joe Simpson

Fourth Official: James Mainwarin

Coy has officiated four matches so far in the 2018/19 campaign as he embarks on just his second season as a Football League referee.

He refereed for four years at National League level before his promotion in the summer of 2017, and his matches this season start on the opening day.

Danny Collins’ bizarre own-goal helped Forest Green Rovers to a 4-1 away victory at Grimsby Town on 4th August, a match in which Coy distributed two yellow cards.

In the First Round of the Carabao Cup, Coy also presided over the tie between Sheffield United and Hull City at Bramall Lane, the visitors winning following a penalty shootout. Only one yellow brandished.

On 18th August, Coy didn’t award a card of any colour as Barnsley drew at home with AFC Wimbledon, whilst he also oversaw Oldham Athletic’s victory at Morecambe last weekend. Two yellows awarded on that occasion.

Coy was fourth official on Tuesday night as Blackburn Rovers secured a comfortable 4-1 victory against early League Two pace setters Lincoln City.

Those statistics follow on from his debut season in the Football League which reads as 69 yellow cards and three red cards distributed from 34 games. In his final season in the National League, Coy brandished 84 yellows and one red from 25 matches.

 

County Connection

Coy has previously officiated one match involving Newport County AFC and Port Vale respectively – although the two sides weren’t facing off against each other.

The match involving County was interestingly Coy’s first ever refereeing performance in the Football League, a match which saw the Exiles share a six-goal thriller with Stevenage on 5th August 2017.

Shawn McCoulsky struck in added time to salvage a point for County, while the game also featured a goal on debut for Frank Nouble and Mickey Demetriou’s thunderbolt that won ‘Goal of the season.’ Watch that strike here.  

Stevenage’s goals on that occasion came from Tom Pett, Danny Newton and Dale Gorman – with Coy brandishing no cards of any colour at the Lamex Stadium.

There was one yellow card in the game involving Port Vale, Newport-born Christian Doidge receiving it, as the Valiants were held to a 1-1 draw with Forest Green Rovers on 16th September 2017.

Dan Turner had given Port Vale the lead at Vale Park with a clever finish, but the points were ultimately shared after Omar Bugiel’s late intervention.

 

Other League Two fixtures that day (All 3pm kick-offs)

Bury FC vs Morecambe

Cheltenham Town vs Colchester United

Crewe Alexandra vs Macclesfield Town

Exeter City vs Lincoln City

Grimsby Town vs Yeovil Town

Mansfield Town vs Carlisle United

Northampton Town vs Tranmere Rovers

Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Oldham Athletic vs Crawley Town

Stevenage vs Cambridge United

Swindon Town vs MK Dons

 

Can’t make the match?

You can follow along on social media using @NCAFCLive on Twitter, or via the Club’s official Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Don’t forget – if you reside outside of the UK, you can watch the game live by subscribing to County’s iFollow service. Commentary by Tim Thraves can also be found at the Match Centre from 2.45pm.

An on-the-whistle match report of this match will be provided on the Club website upon the end of the game. Michael Flynn’s post-match analysis will appear on the website the day after the game, while you can watch all of Flynn’s post-match press conference as-well as two County players by subscribing to iFollow Exiles.

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Match Reports

REPORT| County up to second after victory at Port Vale

1 September 2018

Newport County AFC have ascended into the automatic promotion spots of the League Two table after securing their first three points on the road in a 2-1 victory at Port Vale.

After withstanding some early pressure, County took the lead in the 18th minute when Scot Bennett capitalised on some poor defending in the Port Vale penalty area to swivel and stab home from eight yards after a Matty Dolan corner-kick.

Port Vale found their equaliser nine minutes later and that also came from a corner-kick. Luke Hannant’s powerful delivery went over the head of Joe Day and the County centre-halves and talisman Tom Pope was there waiting to level the scoring with a looping header.

That again started a period of possession for the home side before half-time, but the Exiles just seemed to score at exactly the right time and they got their match-winner three minutes after the interval.

It was a perfectly executed move by County, Josh Sheehan and Mark Harris combining well to set the latter free into the penalty area, and after the cutback was intentionally mis-kicked by Amond, Dan Butler rushed in from left-back to score his first goal of the 2018/19 campaign.

That three-point haul lifted County into second position even if after only six matchdays in League Two, while Vale’s home defeat twinned with a similar result for Swindon Town means County are now one of only two teams in League Two with a perfect home record to start the season.

Mike Flynn elected to make six changes to the side that suffered defeat in the Carabao Cup against Oxford United at Rodney Parade in midweek.

Joe Day returned between the sticks and there was also a place for David Pipe in the starting side, that duo replacing Nick Townsend and Tyler Forbes respectively.

Pipe provided attacking intent from his wing-back position on the opposite flank to Dan Butler, while it was the usual back-three of Fraser Franks, Scot Bennett and captain Mickey Demetriou.

Matty Dolan overcame a groin strain to replace the injured Andrew Crofts, while Josh Sheehan also returned to join Tyreeq Bakinson in the midfield three.

County reverted back to the attacking force implemented against Grimsby Town last weekend, as Padraig Amond and Mark Harris came in for Jamille Matt – who was on the bench – and Antoine Semenyo.

Port Vale manager Neil Aspin made three changes from the side that lost to Tranmere Rovers last time out, handing Lewis Hardcastle his home debut in place of Nathan Smith.

Louis Dodds and Dave Worrall also returned for the Valiants in place of Anthony Kay and Ricky Miller, as the home side lined-up in a 4-4-2 formation from the first whistle.   

Port Vale edged the opening exchanges but were restricted to very few sightings at goal, Dave Worrall forcing a smart save from Joe Day and Tom Pope headed straight at the goalkeeper’s gloves.

County had their first chance in the 13th minute when Josh Sheehan was hauled down just outside the area. Matty Dolan couldn’t replicate the heroics from last weekend, however, as Scott Brown was equal to the effort and pushed it wide.  

That started a sustained period of possession for the Exiles and they found a way to take the lead after 18 minutes of the contest.

The Exiles had been trying some rather interesting corner-kick tactics early on but it was only when they returned to a more orthodox style of delivery that they reaped the benefits.

Matty Dolan’s in-swinging delivery was only half-cleared to Josh Sheehan on the edge-of-the-area, his shot hit Lewis Hardcastle and Connell Rawlinson on the way through, and Scot Bennett was quickest in the box to swivel and poke it past Scott Brown in the home goal.

County could have doubled their advantage just minutes later when Tyreeq Bakinson went on a trademark run from midfield, this time going for placement rather than power, but Brown was down effectively to keep the attempt out at his near-post.

Everything was coming from the Exiles at this point, but you can never be sure with a slender advantage and Port Vale made County pay with a corner-kick routine of their own after 27 minutes.

It was a piece of history when it did arrive, striker and captain Tom Pope rising highest to Luke Hannant’s delivery to bag his 56th goal at the stadium to make him the highest ever goal-scorer at Vale Park.

That goal clearly switched the ascendency in Stoke-On-Trent and the Valiants came mightily close to turning the game on its head on the half-hour. With Pope lurking at the far post, Demetriou decided to try and head the ball out for a corner but inadvertently hit his own post, but the ball fortunately trickled across the goalmouth and County survived.

That was about it in terms of clear-cut chances in the first-half at Vale Park, Bakinson skewing a shot into Brown’s palms at the end of the one additional minute.

It was certainly a fair scoreline for a contest in which both teams had their spells in possession, with several chances being created in Stoke-On-Trent.

From a County perspective, Bakinson was again starring with his tenacity and athleticism in midfield, while the defence had to take a lot of credit for nullifying the obvious threat of Pope and partner Louis Dodds for the majority of first-half proceedings.   

It was another fast start to a half at Vale Park but this time it was County to start brighter and they re-took the lead within three minutes of the restart.

Sheehan and Harris combined well on the right-hand-side to set the latter away into the area, his drag back was intentionally missed by Amond and Dan Butler was there at the far post to tuck away the chance with a composed finish from eight yards.

That goal seemed to shellshock the previously unbeaten at home Valiants and it was only after they made a double substitution on the hour that they ever looked like getting back into the contest.

At the same time, County also made their first alteration and Flynn threw on Jamille Matt for Amond, who had seemingly taken a knock during the build-up to another County chance.

Day’s quick-thinking again denied the effervescent Pope as the Valiants started to throw everything towards the County goal, and substitute Ben Whitfield was mightily unlucky to see his cross-shot drift narrowly wide of the far-post.

Another substitute in Ricky Miller twice had the Vale Park faithful on their feet in quick succession with 18 minutes to play, although their hopes were quickly dashed both times as the attempts hit the side netting when he perhaps should have found the target.

The ball just wouldn’t go in for Miller after his introduction and his frustrations continued when his shot rebounded off the post with ten minutes remaining.

It was all Vale pressure as five minutes were indicated at the end of the game and County had to rely on the quick-thinking of Bennett to preserve the lead as the goal scorer cleared Pope’s header off the goal line.  

That was the final chance of note that the home side could muster as Day held several deliveries into his area – County moving into the top-three with a resilient and dogged display at Vale Park.

 

Newport County AFC (3-4-1-2): Day, Butler, Franks, Demetriou (C), Bennett, Pipe, Dolan, Bakinson, Sheehan (O’Brien 78’), Amond (Matt 60’), Harris (Marsh-Brown 90’)

Subs not used: Townsend, Foulston, Forbes, Cooper

 

Port Vale (4-4-2): Brown, Clark, Legge, Rawlinson, Montano (Gibbons 72’), Worrall, Joyce, Hardcastle (Miller 60’), Hannant, Dodds (Whitfield 60’), Pope

Subs not used: Kay, Hornby, Quigley, Smith

 

Referee: Martin Coy

Attendance: 4,385 (223 AWAY)

Next up for County: Oldham Athletic (8th September 2018) AWAY

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