Newport County AFC will be looking to secure back-to-back home league victories for the first time since January when they entertain high-flying Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night. The Exiles will also be looking to respond following the disappointing defeat to Barnet last time out, while Accrington and their supporters will head to Rodney Parade knowing that just a point will secure them the Sky Bet League 2 title.
Tickets for this fixture are still available and here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League 2 encounter.
Last six league matches
As has been the case virtually since the turn of the year, Accrington Stanley will head to Rodney Parade as the form side in the League 2 table.
They have picked up 16 points from their last six league matches, although if you go a little further back in their recent results then the form from Stanley has been nothing short of incredible.
The Lancashire outfit have only dropped seven points from 19 games in 2018, as they truly have gone from promotion candidates to champions elect in recent months.
One of the major factors behind that meteoric run has been their ability to win games by narrow margins, with ten of the 16 victories in the league this year being settled by just the one goal.
Their run over the last six games starts with three matches won by the smallest of margins, starting on Good Friday in the 1-0 away victory at play-off chasing Mansfield Town.
Mansfield defender Malvind Benning’s red card early on did aid their cause somewhat at the One Call Stadium – and Stanley made their numerical advantage count in the second-half as captain Seamus Conneely rose highest from a corner to head the side to the top of the table.
Another 1-0 success then comes against another team chasing the League 2 play-offs and potentially even the automatic promotion places in Notts County.
Mark Hughes provided the decisive finish on that occasion at the Wham Stadium, as Accrington continued to edge even closer to a first ever spell in the third division of English football.
The run of fixtures against sides with play-off aspirations continued in their next match as-well, although the scoreline was exactly the same as Stanley secured a 1-0 victory for the third successive game at Colchester United.
Billy Kee’s effort ensured a bumper crowd packed into the Wham Stadium in their next match - knowing a victory against Exeter City would confirm that promotion.
The Grecians were intent on spoiling the party, however, as they put the champagne on ice temporarily with a hard-fought 1-1 draw.
Jayden Stockley scored yet again as Exeter took the lead in the contest, only for that to be cancelled out before half-time by Kayden Jackson.
No winner could be found despite the best efforts from the home side, meaning they would have to wait at-least another three days to confirm a place in League 1 for next season.
And that promotion was confirmed at the second time of asking as they eased any fears of an end-of-season wobble with a 2-0 victory over Yeovil Town.
Billy Kee scored twice in the first-half to spark wild celebrations at the Wham Stadium, with the side re-formed in 1968 following in the footsteps of clubs like AFC Wimbledon to reach the third tier after starting virtually from scratch.
And they took another meteoric step towards securing the title on the weekend when dismantling Wycombe Wanderers 4-0 at Adams Park.
Kayden Jackson and Scott Brown both scored in the first-half to set the wheels in motion for yet another victory, while Sean McConville and a penalty from Offrande Zanzala added the appropriate gloss to proceedings.
All that sees Accrington head to Rodney Parade needing just one more point to pip Luton Town to the League 2 title, while they will also be looking to defend a 15-game unbeaten streak in the division alongside losing just once this year.
As is often the case when a side are performing as well as Accrington at the moment, manager John Coleman has no injury concerns to contend with ahead of the trip to Rodney Parade.
That means the away side could name the same starting side for the fifth successive game, while if you look a bit further back, Stanley have only named 12 different players in the starting line-up over the past nine matches.
The alteration was forced when goalkeeper Aaron Chapman was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure following a car crash, although the shot stopper only actually missed one game as a result of the accident.
It is therefore expected that Coleman will stick to the same starting eleven again at Rodney Parade as they seek the extra point required to confirm the title, and the manager was clearly full of praise for his side after their performances this season.
He said after the Wycombe victory: “I can’t praise our lads enough because they have been magnificent all season. I’ve known what these players are about all season and they won’t let it go now.
“We want to win the league in style, we’re not there yet, but we will keep battling away until we do [win League 2.] I’m lucky and blessed to have a great group of lads who work their socks off every day when they are required.
“You physically cannot get any more out of them, they have been brilliant all season.”
Accrington team vs Wycombe Wanderers (4-4-2): Chapman, Johnson, Dunne, Hughes, Donacien, Clark, Brown, Conneely (C), McConville (Williams 90’), Jackson (Richards-Everton 89’), Kee (Zanzala 84’)
One to Watch – Kayden Jackson
Somewhat overshadowed by the 25 goals that strike partner Billy Kee has got for Stanley so far this season, Kayden Jackson has scored a sufficient amount himself and currently has 16 for the season.
He has been directly responsible for accumulating eight points for his side, all of those crucial goals coming at the Wham Stadium, including netting in 1-1 draws against Cheltenham Town and Exeter City.
Jackson has also scored the winner in victories over Swindon Town, Cambridge United and Crewe Alexandra – those five goals coming as part of the 11 he has scored at home this season.
The 24-year old has also found the net at the Wham Stadium past Colchester United, Mansfield Town, Grimsby Town, Barnet, Chesterfield and Forest Green.
He will also head to Rodney Parade having added a further five goals on the road thus far in the campaign – scoring twice in the defeat at Yeovil Town, while also scoring away at Grimsby Town, Cheltenham Town and Wycombe Wanderers.
Accrington are currently the fifth permanent club that Jackson has signed for, joining Stanley at the start of this campaign, although his career actually started with Swindon Town in 2013.
He joined in interesting circumstances, having won their ‘Win a Pro Contract’ competition. The Robins swiftly sent him on loan to local club Swindon Supermarine in the Southern League, a place where Jackson scored 12 goals in 14 appearances.
The striker also joined Oxford City on loan later that campaign when being sent to a higher division and this time to the Conference North, and the 24-year old again found the net on occasion, eight goals in 23 appearances this time out.
Swindon Town then released Jackson without making a single appearance for the first-team and he quickly moved to Tamworth at the start of the 2014/15 campaign.
Eight goals from 38 appearances clearly tempted Wrexham into making a move for Jackson, with the 24-year old again jumping up a division and this time into the Conference.
The goals appeared to dry up at the Racecourse, just four in 38 appearances for the club, although Barnsley must have seen something from those performances as they made a move for the striker ahead of the 2016/17 campaign in the Championship.
He never made a single appearance with the club, however, and even had a season-long loan contract at Grimsby Town retracted in February following a dismal spell of just two goals in 24 appearances.
This season at Accrington has clearly been much better and one for the 24-year old to utilise in the future, with it looking likely that Jackson will again link-up with Kee in League 1 next season.
Away from the domestic scene, Jackson has also featured once for the England ‘C’ team whilst playing for Wrexham. He was selected for their match in Kyiv in March 2016, scoring on his international debut in a victory over Ukraine U23s.
Last time out
Accrington Stanley 1 – 1 Newport County AFC
Saturday 18th November 2017
A late goal from Accrington substitute Mallik Wilks ensured County had to leave the Wham Stadium with just a point following a 1-1 draw against Accrington Stanley.
Both goals came after a relatively low-key opening 45 minutes, only one chance falling the way of either side, as it was much more of a defensive battle in the first-half.
County’s solitary chance of the first-half fell the way of Frank Nouble and it came within the opening 30 seconds.
Ben Tozer superbly flicked on a Mickey Demetriou throw-in into Nouble’s path 10 yards out, only for Mark Hughes to get something in the way of the shot and divert it narrowly wide of the front post.
Kayden Jackson was providing the greatest resistance for the home side in the opening 45 minutes, although couldn’t quite direct his shot on target when found on the angle inside the six-yard area.
You would have to say that all the threat from County in the game was coming from Nouble out-wide, so it was no surprise when he gave the Exiles a lead just three minutes into the second-half.
It was a textbook corner tactic from the Exiles to get the opener, something they had tried a few times in other games this season, with Nouble expertly guiding the Robbie Willmott drilled pass into the top corner from the edge of the area.
The goal unsurprisingly sparked the home side into action, having a succession of corners, eight in all for the opening 57 minutes, although the County defence were superbly controlling the deliveries.
Joe Day was, however, forced into a stunning save just after the hour as Accrington continued to increase the pressure.
Jackson played a ball across the goal that Pipe could only hook into the path of Jordan Clark, with Day, who was on the floor at the time, somehow blocking the effort with his leg.
On the counter-attack, County almost doubled their advantage with twenty minutes to play through a speculative long-range effort from Willmott, although home goalkeeper Aaron Chapman recovered the situation after originally dropping the shot onto the base of his own post.
Accrington kept on attacking the County goal as they looked to salvage a point at the Wham Stadium, Day producing more superb saves to deny Kee and Jackson as the game ticked into its final minutes.
But the County rear-guard could only hold out for so long and they were finally pegged back with two minutes to go.
Wilks was the man to get it, smashing home through a crowded area after Day had superbly denied the original two efforts of a clever Accrington attack.
Stanley kept on piling the pressure towards the County goal throughout the entirety of the five additional minutes indicated at the end of the game, but the Exiles stood firm to take a point and ensure their unbeaten record away against Accrington continued for at least another season.
Mike Flynn said of the draw: “I’m gutted we didn’t win the game. I thought the boys put in an unbelievable shift and they worked their socks off. Would we have taken a point before the game? Probably, so it’s good that I’m disappointed that we haven’t won.”
Accrington manager John Coleman added: “It’s definitely two points dropped. The only danger Newport caused was from throw-ins and I thought we dealt with them quite comfortably. We were able to pin them back in the second-half and overall, I think we deserved to win.”
Referee: Lee Swabey
Assistant Referee 1: Robert Dabbs
Assistant Referee 2: Thomas Harty
Fourth Official: Ronald Ganfield
Swabey is currently embarking on his third full season as a Football League referee having officiated his first game in League 2 on 8th August 2015 as Mansfield Town and Carlisle United played out a 1-1 draw on the opening day of the season.
He has refereed 17 matches so far this season, of which the last came on 14th April as Coventry City kept their play-off hopes alive with a 2-1 victory away at fellow play-off hopefuls Crawley Town.
One yellow card was brandished to each side in West Sussex, taking his season tally to 51 yellow cards and one red card from the previous 17 matches. He has awarded seven penalties so far this season.
That follows on from refereeing just 14 matches during the 2016/17 campaign, a season in which Swabey brandished 59 yellow cards and three red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.
Swabey has refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on six previous occasions and interestingly, all of those previous matches have come at Rodney Parade.
The Exiles have a reasonable record in those previous matches refereed by Swabey, having won on two occasions, drawn once and suffered defeat in three games.
He has already officiated a County game this season, that coming on 9th December 2017 as a six-goal thriller was shared with Carlisle United.
Shawn McCoulsky’s superb lob over away goalkeeper Jack Bonham just two minutes before half-time gave the Exiles a lead at the break, although that was swiftly wiped out within six minutes of the restart after goals from Luke Joyce and Kelvin Etuhu.
Matty Dolan’s stunning long range free-kick levelled proceedings for County just before the hour mark, although Carlisle were back in-front again shortly after as ex-Exile Tom Miller came back to score against his former employers.
Another exceptional free-kick from Dolan ensured the points were shared at Rodney Parade, while there were two bookings for the Exiles during the game – Frank Nouble and Robbie Willmott the offenders.
Swabey has only refereed one other Football League match involving the Exiles, that coming on 8th March 2016 as Barnet inflicted a first home defeat of the year on County in a 3-0 triumph.
Andy Yiadom, ex-Exile Mark Randall and John Akinde all scored during that match to give the Bees a convincing victory, while there were again two yellow cards brandished by Swabey to County players.
Danny Holmes and Ben Davies were the players cautioned on that occasion.
That just leaves the remaining four County matches officiated by Swabey, all of which came during the promotion season of 2012/13.
The first of those came in just the second competitive fixture at Rodney Parade, a game that was won 2-1 thanks to a double from Aaron O’Connor on 18th August 2012. Jake Thompson was the only player booked.
Next comes the encounter with Hyde United on 17th November 2012, with the Exiles being knocked off top spot in the Conference following a 3-1 reverse.
Christian Jolley marked his debut for the club by striking an equaliser during that game, although goals from Phil Jevons, Luke Ashworth and Scott Spencer gave the three points to the Cheshire outfit. Again, only the one yellow for County, that going to Andrew Hughes.
Swabey was also the man in the middle for the 2-0 defeat to Barrow on 19th January 2013, a game that will always be remembered for the hard-work and dedication of supporters in clearing snow off the surface and getting the game to go ahead.
Matthew Flynn and Danny Rowe scored in either half as the Exiles missed the chance to go top of the Conference table, while David Pipe and Lee Evans were both cautioned among six bookings in total.
That just leaves the final County game refereed by Swabey, that coming on 23rd February 2013 as the Exiles secured a 2-1 victory against AFC Telford.
Christian Jolley and Danny Crow both scored as the side ascended into third position in the table, while there were no bookings awarded to either side at Rodney Parade.
Other League 2 fixtures that night (All 7:45pm kick-offs)
Coventry City vs Lincoln City
Morecambe vs Cambridge United
Yeovil Town vs Forest Green Rovers
Can’t make the match?
You can follow along on social media using @NCAFCLive on Twitter, or via the Club’s official Facebook, Snapchat (OfficialExiles) 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 Charlie Brown and Richard Shepherd can also be found at the Match Centre from 7.30pm.
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.