Newport County AFC will be looking for their first victory at Rodney Parade since 19th January when they welcome Stevenage to South Wales on Saturday. The Exiles will also be looking to build on the solid point secured against play-off contenders Coventry City last time out, while the away side will be hoping to continue their recent run of good form after some impressive results over the Easter period.
Tickets are still available for this match and here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League 2 encounter…
Last six league matches
Following a change in management recently, Stevenage have been on a steady run of form since the turn of the year after a good run of results tailed off at the end of 2017.
Looking at their last six league matches more specifically, Stevenage have picked up a total of six points from the maximum of 18 available – following one win, three draws and two defeats since 24th February.
That run starts with one of those defeats as Notts County boosted their faint hopes of an automatic promotion place come the end of the season with a 2-0 home victory.
The away side had held out resiliently until the 77th minute, although goals from Jorge Grant and Shola Ameobi ensured the Magpies kept up the heat on Wycombe Wanderers in 3rd place by picking up maximum points at Meadow Lane.
The next two results don’t make too good reading for Stevenage fans either even if both games were drawn, owing to the fact that they surrendered two-goal leads on both occasions.
Dean Bowditch scored either side of half-time to seemingly give them a comfortable home victory over Crewe Alexandra, only for the Railwaymen to make a remarkable comeback in the final ten minutes.
Perry Ng scored just his third goal of the season to set the wheels in motion, before Charlie Kirk struck in the ninth minute of additional time to ensure the points were shared at the Lamex Stadium.
In the next match, Luke Amos and Ben Kennedy put the Hertfordshire side into a commanding lead away at Port Vale, only for the relegation-threatened Valiants to make their own response and steal a point.
Donovan Wilson and Luke Hannant were the players to give the home side a point, a result which cost Darren Sarll his job as manager.
Former County assistant manager Dino Maamria was swiftly appointed to the hot seat at the Lamex Stadium, although his opening game didn’t quite go to plan as they suffered a 1-0 home defeat against Colchester United.
Mikael Mandron struck in the first-half to give the U’s all three points for the first time in six matches and keep their faint hopes of a play-off spot alive, while Stevenage were consigned to 16th position in the League 2 table.
On Good Friday, Maamria’s quest for a first victory as a manager in the Football League continued as they were held to a 0-0 stalemate at struggling Grimsby Town.
But it was third time lucky for Maamria to get that inaugural win – and it came in emphatic style with a 4-1 home success over another team attempting to avoid playing in the National League next season in Barnet.
Danny Newton scored either side of half-time to put Stevenage in command, while a first goal for the Boro by Alex Revell further extended the advantage early in the second-period.
A goal from Shaquile Coulthirst eight minutes before the end did give Barnet the opportunity to mount a late charge, but another from Revell nullified any hope of a comeback as Stevenage returned to winning ways in confident fashion.
All that leaves Stevenage in 16th place in the League 2 table ahead of their trip to Rodney Parade, just six points behind the Exiles, while their safety has been mathematically secured before they embark on their final six fixtures.
Stevenage have a few injury concerns to contend with ahead of their trip to South Wales on the weekend.
Striker Dean Bowditch is a doubt with a knee complaint, while fellow attacking option Mark McKee may also sit out of the game after suffering a calf injury.
Defender Fraser Franks could be available to play some part, having been an unused substitute last time out.
Matty Godden, who has 14 goals already this campaign, may again start from the bench at Rodney Parade - having made his first appearance since 13th February late-on during Monday’s game.
Godden’s inclusion in the matchday squad was the only alteration between the two games over the Easter period; and manager Dino Maamria may be tempted to stick to the same side again on Saturday after accumulating four points in that time.
Stevenage team vs Barnet (4-4-2): T.King, Henry, J.King, Wilkinson, Martin, Whelpdale (Gorman 70’), Sheaf, Amos, Kennedy (Godden 76’), Revell (Smith 88’), Newton
One to Watch – Danny Newton
Stevenage striker Danny Newton must be in contention for breakthrough player of the year at the end of the season having accustomed to his first season in the Football League with emphatic fashion.
Cheltenham’s Mo Eisa must also be a contender having found the net on 22 occasions this season since joining from Greenwich Borough, although Newton isn’t too far behind and has 15 goals to his name.
He scored on his Football League debut against County on the opening day of the season, one of 13 goals that have come at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium.
Newton has also found his name on the scoresheet in home matches with Grimsby Town, Crawley Town, Port Vale, Notts County, Cheltenham Town, Chesterfield, Luton Town, Yeovil Town – while he has scored twice past Barnet and Swindon Town.
Ahead of his first ever visit to Rodney Parade, Newton only has two goals on the road this season. Those strikes came against Colchester United and Swindon Town, with the striker last scoring away from home on 16th September 2017.
His pathway into the Football League at the start of the current campaign followed a similar pattern to that of County’s Lamar Reynolds, with the Stevenage striker also coming through the V9 academy.
A place in Jamie Vardy’s talent discovery programme came after a glittering seven years in the non-leagues of the English pyramid, starting at Hinckley United.
The 29-year old forged a strong strike partnership with Watford’s Andre Gray whilst at the club, leaving the side in the summer of 2012 having scored 17 goals from 78 appearances.
That saw him sign for another National League North side in Nuneaton Town, although he was loaned back to Hinckley for three months after failing to make an appearance with his new club.
He made sparing appearances on his return, so was loaned out again after 10 games, this time to Barwell in the Southern Football League.
Newton elected to stay on at Barwell come the end of that campaign, but was on the move again after just two months having attracted the attention of Brackley Town following some stellar displays to start the season.
Remarkably, he was on the move yet again shortly after following failing to break into the starting team, this time joining Leamington in the National League North.
He finally managed to put a successive run of games together with the Warwickshire outfit, finding the net on 30 occasions from just 60 appearances.
Securing the player of the year award in the 2014/15 season tempted Tamworth into making a move, a club where Newton continued his rich vein of scoring form.
In two seasons, Newton scored 39 goals from 79 appearances, winning player of the year with the club last season.
Those more recent good times on the pitch for Newton saw his V9 academy application accepted, with Stevenage choosing to take a gamble at the start of this season and sign Newton and Blair Turgott from the five-day trial process.
All this sees Newton head to Rodney Parade on Saturday with career statistics of 117 goals from 311 appearances.
Manager – Dino Maamria
Dino Maamria will return to Rodney Parade on Saturday for just his fourth match as a Football League manager.
Stevenage have won one, drawn one and lost one of the matches since Maamria’s appointment - following Darren Sarll being moved into the role of youth development manager.
It is just his fourth managerial position at any level, following short stints at the three previous clubs he has been in charge at.
Maamria won 29% of his 45 matches while with Northwich Victoria in 2008 as a player-manager, while he returned to the hot seat in 2015 with Southport.
He managed 22 matches at the club before leaving via mutual consent, winning nine of those games, before managing the same number of matches at Nuneaton Town before the temptation to become Stevenage manager was too hard to turn down last month.
Prior to turning to management, Maamria had a successful career as a player in the lower leagues.
Interestingly, his best spells actually came with Stevenage – where he scored 38 goals from 107 appearances across three stints with the club.
The other teams in his career read as Doncaster Rovers, Southport, Leigh RMI, Charleston Battery, Rushden & Diamonds as-well as Northwich Victoria.
Maamria was then appointed into Stevenage’s coaching staff ahead of them winning back-to-back promotions from the Conference all the way into League 1.
After four years in that position, Maamria followed Graham Westley to Preston North End in January 2012. He left the club just over a year later as part of Westley’s dismissal, before following him back to Stevenage shortly after.
He then completed his UEFA Pro License before again joining Westley as part of his coaching staff at Rodney Parade on 10th October 2016, although left the club five months later when Mike Flynn was named as caretaker manager of the club.
Last time out
Stevenage 3 – 3 Newport County AFC
Saturday 5th August 2017
A dramatic stoppage-time equaliser from debutant Shawn McCoulsky earned Newport County AFC a point in a breathless encounter on the opening day of the season at the Lamex Stadium.
The Exiles embodied their inner ‘Great Escape’ spirit to take a share of the spoils in Hertfordshire, having to come from behind twice, including falling behind to Tom Pett’s 11th minute opener.
Scot Bennett’s under hit back pass to Joe Day was capitalised upon by the Stevenage midfielder, who expertly rounded the County goalkeeper before passing into an empty net from just outside the penalty area.
Falling behind so early-on in the opening day of the season clearly sparked County into action, getting more of a foothold in the game the longer it progressed, and they probably should have been level before the half-hour mark.
Matty Dolan’s audacious free-kick cannoned back into the danger area off the post, although Frank Nouble couldn’t make the most of the glorious chance from four yards as the effort went high and over the crossbar.
The free-kicks from Dolan seemed to be the best route to goal for County, another attempt on 32 minutes having to be kept out well by Middlesbrough loanee Joe Fryer.
The chances kept on coming for County as the game drew closer to half-time, but Fryer continued to frustrate the attempts of the away side, this time keeping out a Nouble header from point-blank range.
County may have been made to pay for not getting an equaliser whilst in control of proceedings during the two minutes additional time, although ex-Exile Alex Samuel couldn’t direct a Ronnie Henry cross on target.
It was a similar case of County dominance to start the second-half, again Fryer in the right position to thwart County, Lamar Reynolds denied a goal on his EFL debut by yet another one handed save from the goalkeeper.
Something special would be required to get past the shot stopper at the Lamex Stadium and the Exiles finally managed to breach the Middlesbrough loanee on 55 minutes.
Matty Dolan’s in-swinging corner caused Stevenage all manner of problems in the penalty area, Nouble eventually reacting quickest to fire home from all of two yards after Joss Labadie had directed the ball into his path following a goal-mouth scramble.
Everything positive in the game was coming through the players in the amber of County – but the Exiles suffered a sucker-punch when Stevenage retook the lead against the run of play after an hour.
Bennett was adjudged to have fouled Luke Wilkinson in the area and Dale Gorman took the responsibilities of dispatching the penalty directly into the top left-hand corner.
The contest became even more difficult for the Exiles when the home side further extended their advantage on 72 minutes despite more County pressure down the other end.
Mickey Demetriou put in a superb block to deny Gorman’s long-range attempt, but the ball sat up invitingly for Danny Newton to mark his EFL debut with a goal, firing past a helpless Day from just inside the area.
But following on from last season’s ‘Great Escape,’ County didn’t know how to get beaten and they found a way back into the contest with 13 minutes remaining.
It could still win goal of the season from a County perspective, Demetriou seeing his first shot blocked before rifling one straight out of the top drawer and into the top corner from 30 yards.
The comeback would then be completed deep into the six additional minutes of time added on at the end of the contest, substitute and County debutant Shawn McCoulsky reacting to a goal-mouth scramble to pass home from five yards.
Mike Flynn said of the thrilling draw: “The boys have shown great character today. They’ve got a togetherness about them and that clearly showed with us getting the point. It’s a massive positive – we were 3-1 down with eight minutes to go and we’ve drawn the game. We scored some great goals today which is pleasing and the fightback and belief from the players was outstanding.”
Stevenage manager Darren Sarll added: “Was I disappointed? I was thoroughly disappointed.My expectation now at Stevenage is we should win every game, and at 3-1 we should have seen it out and won the game. I thought the first-half was okay but as it wore on, Newport got on top. In the second-half, we sat on our heels too often.”
Referee: Ollie Yates
Assistant Referee 1: John Farries
Assistant Referee 2: Matt Eva
Fourth Official: Mark Russell
Yates is currently embarking on just his second season as a Football League referee having officiated his first game in League 2 on the opening day of last season.
That game saw Yeovil Town kick off their campaign with a 2-0 victory over Notts County, while not a single booking was produced by Yates on 6th August 2016.
For whatever reason, Yates has only refereed a limited amount of games this season. He has been the man in the middle for just three matches so far, all of which came last month.
Three yellow cards were produced when Cheltenham Town and Chesterfield played out a 1-1 draw in Gloucestershire on 17th March, while no bookings were given out a week later as Coventry secured an emphatic 4-0 victory over struggling Grimsby Town.
His most recent game came on Good Friday when Doncaster Rovers boosted their survival hopes with a 2-1 away victory at Blackpool. Five bookings were brandished on that occasion.
Those statistics follow on from his debut season in the Football League last campaign. Yates produced 36 yellow cards and four red cards from 12 games in all competitions.
Saturday’s meeting at Rodney Parade will be the first time that Yates has been involved in a Newport County AFC match either as a referee or an assistant.
He has, however, refereed the away side on one previous occasion.
That came last season when Exeter City defied the odds by securing a 2-0 away victory at the Lamex Stadium despite playing 66 minutes of the game with 10 men.
Jordan Moore-Taylor was the man dismissed on that occasion by Yates, the first of his four red cards in the Football League to date, while the Grecians' victory was secured thanks to goals from Lee Holmes and Ollie Watkins.
Other League 2 fixtures that day (All 3pm kick-offs)
Barnet vs Forest Green Rovers
Cambridge United vs Exeter City
Cheltenham Town vs Morecambe
Colchester United vs Accrington Stanley
Grimsby Town vs Chesterfield
Mansfield Town vs Crewe Alexandra
Notts County vs Coventry City
Port Vale vs Crawley Town
Swindon Town vs Carlisle United
Yeovil Town vs Luton Town
Lincoln City P-P Wycombe Wanderers (Postponed due to Lincoln's involvement in the CheckaTrade Trophy final - Sunday 3pm vs Shrewsbury Town)
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 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 #iFollowExiles.