Stevenage are gearing up for their fourth successive season in League 2 following relegation from League 1 in 2014. They will be looking to build on their 10th place finish last season, which saw the Boro miss out on the play-offs by only three points - despite occupying 6th place with just two games to go. Here, you can find all the pre-match facts and statistics for the opening fixture of the season.
Stevenage have prepared for the new season with five pre-season matches. Of those games, they won only once, drew three and suffered one defeat. In the opening fixture, Boro played out a 1-1 draw at Hitchin Town before another draw at home to Norwich 2-2. In that game, ex-County player Alex Samuel scored his first goal for the club with Dale Gorman getting the other.
They then suffered defeat at home to Charlton Athletic 2-1 before another draw, this time 0-0 against Millwall. Stevenage finished their pre-season schedule on Saturday with a 2-0 victory at Dagenham and Redbridge – Luke Wilkinson and Mark McKee scoring.
Manager Darren Sarll has been busy on trying to navigate a way to League 1 this season with a huge overhaul in his playing staff, making nine signings and letting the same amount of players leave the club.
Of those new signings, Alex Samuel stands out, all County fans knowing his ability on and off the ball. Chris Whelpdale has re-joined the club after a successful spell first time around, netting 15 goals in 60 appearances between 2014-16.
Other notable arrivals include Middlesbrough goalkeeper Joe Fryer on a season-long loan deal and Harry Beautyman joining from Northampton Town.
More additions may yet be seen at the Lamex Stadium, with Sarll telling Stevenage iFollow “Now we just maybe have to decorate the tree a bit, add a bit more tinsel and glamour to it.”
Manager – Darren Sarll
After taking permanent charge of the club following a caretaker spell, this will be Sarll’s second full season at the helm.
In his playing days, Sarll played for several non-league clubs before taking the role of youth and reserve manager at Stevenage in 2006. Further coaching roles at Brentford and Rotherham soon followed, before returning to Stevenage as first-team coach upon the appointment of Teddy Sheringham as manager at the start of the 2015/16 season.
Following Sheringham’s dismissal, Sarll was appointed caretaker manager alongside Glenn Roeder. After steering the side to an 18th place finish, Sarll was given the job on a permanent basis before the 2016/17 season.
Stadium – Lamex Stadium
Built in 1961, the Lamex Stadium has been home to Stevenage FC since their inception in 1976 and was also the ground of their predecessors Stevenage Athletic FC.
Currently, the stadium’s capacity is just short of 7,000 with away supporters being housed in the South Stand behind one of the goals.
Our meeting on Saturday will be the 7th time the two teams have met.
The first of the meetings saw County come away with a 2-0 victory at Rodney Parade on 13th December. Aaron O’Connor and Darren Jones both scored before O’Connor was sent off late on – which left County unbeaten in nine matches and occupying 6th place.
Stevenage made up for that defeat with a victory of their own at the Lamex on 7th March. Charlie Lee and Bira Dembele scored before Adam Chapman got one back late on as County slipped out of the play-off places.
In what was Terry Butcher’s first home game in charge of County, both sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw. Dipo Akinyemi gave Stevenage a half-time lead, before goals from Aaron Collins and Scott Boden turned it round for the Exiles. Mark Hughes netted a last-minute equaliser to prevent County from victory at Rodney Parade.
In the return game, Stevenage again secured a 2-1 victory at the Lamex. Jake Mulraney and ex-Exile Aaron O’Connor both scored in the first-half for the hosts, before Alex Rodman halved the deficit with three minutes remaining.
Stevenage secured a first-league double over County last season.
At Rodney Parade they secured a 2-0 victory thanks to a Tom Pett goal and an own-goal from Darren Jones, to move just a point form the play-offs on 6th December.
Victory at the Lamex was secured in a 3-1 victory on 7th January. Matt Godden scored a hat-trick for the hosts before Dan Butler scored in the last minute for County.
Referee – Martin Coy
Assistant referee 1 – Andrew Newbold
Assistant referee 2 – Marc Wilson
Fourth official – Andy Woolmer
This will be the first time referee Martin Coy has officiated a Newport County fixture. It will also be the first EFL game he has overseen after being promoted for the coming season, as Coy has been a National League referee in recent seasons.
During last season’s National League campaign, Coy officiated a total of 23 fixtures. During those games he gave out 83 yellow cards and 1 red card.
Other games around the league (All 3pm kick-offs):
Accrington Stanley vs Colchester United
Carlisle United vs Swindon Town
Chesterfield vs Grimsby Town
Coventry City vs Notts County
Crawley Town vs Port Vale
Crewe Alexandra vs Mansfield Town
Exeter City vs Cambridge United
Forest Green Rovers vs Barnet
Luton Town vs Yeovil Town
Morecambe vs Cheltenham Town
Wycombe Wanderers vs Lincoln City
As of 5pm Thursday 3rd, there are just 75 tickets available for advanced sale for Saturday's game! There are a further thousand tickets available for County fans to purchase on the day at Lamex Stadium but please note these will incur an additional £3 charge.
Tickets for this game will come off online sale at midday on Friday.
Can't make the match?
Don't forget - if you reside outside of the UK, you can watch the game live by subscribing to County’s iFollow service. This is the first time League 2 fixtures have been streamed abroad live.