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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Swindon Town next up at Rodney Parade

13 April 2018

Newport County AFC will be looking to secure their first home league victory since 19th January when play-off chasing Swindon Town head to Rodney Parade on Saturday. The Exiles will also be hoping to bounce-back from the defeat to Stevenage last time out, while the Robins travel to South Wales knowing that they are running out of time in their quest for mounting a late charge towards the League 2 play-offs.

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

Swindon Town are yet to fully experience the new manager bounce that often occurs at a football club - following the departure of David Flitcroft to play-off rivals Mansfield Town last month and the subsequent appointment of Phil Brown. 

They have, however, become a difficult side to beat since bringing in their new manager, losing just one of the six matches since Brown took charge of the Wiltshire outfit. But winning just one of the other matches has curtailed their hopes for the play-offs somewhat, with a further four draws since 17th March. 

That run actually starts with Brown’s first game in charge of the Robins, a match which saw the 58-year old start his tenure at the club with a 3-1 away victory against Cambridge United.

Robins striker Luke Norris was the first player to score for Swindon in the Phil Brown era, heading home in the first-half, before Marc Richards replicated that header by netting one himself on the hour to double the advantage.

Uche Ikpeazu set up a tense finale for Brown in that inaugural game by halving the deficit late-on, only for Richards to strike again from the penalty spot shortly after and confirm all three points.

Brown suffered his first defeat in their next game, however, as Exeter City boosted their own play-off hopes whilst denting Swindon’s top-seven aspirations by sealing a 3-1 victory at St James Park.

Swindon actually took the lead in that match through Kaiyne Woolery’s close-range finish, only to surrender that advantage before half-time thanks to goals from Jake Taylor and a penalty from Pierce Sweeney. 

Talisman Jayden Stockley confirmed the victory for the Grecians with three minutes remaining – the defeat all but confirming that Swindon wouldn’t be getting promoted straight back to League 1 via the automatic promotion places.

And their quest for a play-off spot has also taken a hit in the subsequent matches following that defeat to Exeter, with the Wiltshire outfit being held to four successive draws, the first a 1-1 stalemate with Morecambe at the County Ground. 

They could have been heading for defeat in that game as-well when Callum Lang gave the Shrimpers a half-time lead, although they salvaged a point through a late penalty from Norris.

Another 1-1 scoreline then follows and the Robins were again required to come from behind to take a point away at late play-off challengers Crawley Town.

A thumping effort from Jimmy Smith midway through the first-half gave Crawley that lead in West Sussex, only for Richards to find the net with a header in the final five minutes to ensure the points were again shared.

The Robins were then prevented from scoring for just the second time since the turn of the year as Carlisle United held out resiliently for a 0-0 draw at the County Ground - Swindon coming closest through another Richards attempt that was this time ruled out for offside.

In their last match on Tuesday night, Swindon were one of only two teams in the top-half of League 2 to have a game.

That meant they could have leapfrogged Coventry City and into the final play-off position with a win, but they were undone by a late goal as Yeovil Town continued their impressive away record of late with a 2-2 draw at the County Ground.

Matty Taylor, who had been caretaker manager of the club before Brown’s appointment, gave them a half-time lead when putting away a pinpoint delivery from Woolery, only to be pegged back through an audacious attempt from Lewis Wing.

Taylor restored the advantage with 18 minutes still left to play but the Robins couldn’t hold out for their first victory in five matches as Alex Fisher struck with 60 seconds remaining to snatch a point.

All that sees Swindon Town head to Rodney Parade in 9th position, just a point outside of the final play-off position, although the Robins have played a game more than most of the sides currently occupying positions above them in the League 2 table.

 

Team-News

 

Swindon manager Phil Brown will have a few selection headaches ahead of making the trip to Rodney Parade on the weekend.

Striker Luke Norris may be a doubt for the Robins after dislocating his shoulder for the third time this season on Easter Monday, although Brown is optimistic that his talisman may see out the season.

He said: “He will have an operation but it begs the question whether he can see the season out. It all depends on the healing process with Luke Norris.”

It still remains unclear as to the availability of captain Olly Lancashire on the weekend, after the defender was forced off after an hour against Yeovil in midweek.

Brown continued: “Lancs went in for a challenge with their goalkeeper, he took a right boot in the kisser and he was knocked out for a moment.”

Brown will also have to make a decision on whether to risk Kellan Gordon for the match. The striker dislocated his shoulder in the match with Carlisle United and Brown has confirmed that the player has for the time being returned to parent club Derby County.

He added: “Hopefully it will be a speedy recovery but we’re in the hands of his parent club at the moment.”

Gordon’s absence was the only change forced upon the club for their game in midweek, although they may shuffle the pack once more on Saturday following the couple of injury concerns currently within the squad.  

Swindon Town team vs Yeovil Town (4-4-2): Moore, Knoyle, Purkiss, Lancashire (C) (McGivern 63’), Hussey, Twine (Elsnick 87’), Banks, Dunne, Taylor, Woolery (Mullin 79’), Richards

 

One to Watch – Marc Richards

The vastly experienced striker has accustomed well to his new surroundings since his January move to Wiltshire.

Richards has 10 goals since leaving Northampton Town at the turn of the year, including netting a double on just his second appearance in a seven-goal thriller with Crewe Alexandra.

He has also scored twice against Port Vale – while he heads to Rodney Parade having found the net on six occasions away from home. Those goals come against Lincoln City, Accrington Stanley, Wycombe Wanderers, Crawley Town and two at Cambridge United.

Interestingly, Richards has only had six permanent clubs across the entirety of his 18-year career to date, starting at Blackburn Rovers after coming through the ranks at Hednesford Town.

He could only make one appearance at Ewood Park across the space of three seasons, that coming in a League Cup game with West Ham, with the striker spending the rest of his time on loan at Crewe Alexandra, Oldham Athletic, Halifax Town and Swansea City.

Nine goals from 33 appearances across all those clubs tempted Northampton Town into making a move for Richards ahead of the 2003/04 campaign.

His spell at the club was blighted through injury, however, so he left two years later having scored 13 goals at the club alongside a short loan spell with Rochdale.

That saw him join Barnsley, a club he played in the Championship with, although he left after two years following 18 goals in 81 appearances.

Port Vale were the next destination for Richards and he was quickly appointed club captain. The club were relegated in his first season, however, and an injury hit second season saw the armband taken off him when Micky Adams was appointed as manager.

His spell with the Valiants is the longest of his career at one club to date, a total of five seasons being spent with the club, where he was able to forge himself as a potent League 2 marksman by netting 75 goals.

Richards then moved to Chesterfield for two seasons, leading them into League 1 in that second campaign when winning the league title.

He rejected a new contract to move with them into the third division, preferring to remain in League 2 and sign with Chris Wilder at his former club Northampton.

That is where he had been plying his trade since his departure in January, again leading a club into the third tier, leaving them having scored his 50th goal of his second stint earlier this campaign.

All that sees Richards head to Rodney Parade with career statistics of 185 goals from 603 appearances.

 

Manager – Phil Brown

 

Phil Brown has had a relatively successful start to his tenure at Swindon Town since his official unveiling on March 10th and has every chance of leading the Robins into the League 2 play-offs come the end of the season.

He is yet to taste success at Swindon’s County Ground, however, although he hasn’t lost there either – meaning he heads to Rodney Parade looking for the second win of his spell at the club after securing success in his inaugural game away at Cambridge United.

Swindon are the fifth club which Brown has managed on a permanent basis, starting his career in 1999 whilst still a player at Bolton Wanderers.

Upon the completion of his coaching badges, the 58-year old was then afforded an opportunity to be assistant manager to Sam Allardyce at Blackpool.

He returned to Bolton after his playing career finished, taking the assistant managers job with the club under Colin Todd.

Todd’s dismissal gave him his first taste of management in a caretaker capacity, winning four out of the six games he took charge of in 1999, before Allardyce then coincidentally took over at the club.

Brown continued in the assistants’ capacity for a further six years under Allardyce’s guidance, before deciding to embark on a management career of his own, succeeding George Burley as the manager of Derby County in June 2005.

He didn’t fare too well with the club, however, and was dismissed from the role within seven months after winning just seven of his 33 matches – drawing 14 and losing 12.

That saw Brown move to Hull City in October 2006 as first-team coach under Phil Parkinson, before a successful spell as caretaker manager of the club saw him appointed permanently on 4th January 2007.

It is arguably his most renowned managerial spell, with Brown guiding the Tigers to safety that season before becoming the first manager in the club’s 104-year history to lead them into the top flight.

A place in the Premiership was secured thanks to Dean Windass’s emphatic volley against Bristol City in the Championship play-off final, with the Tigers kicking off their new season in superb fashion.

They won their first game against Fulham 2-1, before picking up notable victories away at Arsenal and Tottenham, a feat that saw Brown named Premier League manager of the month in September.

The season didn’t finish as well as it started, however, with the infamous half-time team talk on the pitch at Man City coming during a run of form which saw Hull’s safety come down to the final day of the season. They survived despite a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United, but were relegated the following season and Brown was relieved of his duties.

He then ended up at Preston in January 2011 but was sacked ten months later after failing to avoid relegation and starting the subsequent season in poor form.

That saw him out of work for just over a year before he joined Southend United in League 2 on 25th March 2013.

They lost the Football League Trophy final later that season, before securing back-to-back places in the League 2 play-offs over the following two seasons.

Southend secured promotion to League 1 in 2015 thanks to a penalty shootout success against Wycombe Wanderers following a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes.

Brown performed relatively successfully in League 1 with the Roots Hall outfit for two-and-a-half years before leaving the club in January of this year, joining Swindon early last month.

 

Last time out

Swindon Town 0 – 1 Newport County AFC

Saturday 25th November 2017

Newport County AFC secured their first victory in League 2 since 14th October with a superb 1-0 success at promotion favourites Swindon Town. 

Late goals in the previous two matches had cost County a total of five points away at Accrington Stanley and home to Barnet, but it was the Exiles who struck late this time out as Ben Tozer headed home with 12 minutes remaining to secure all three points at the County Ground.

The first half certainly came and went without a moment of note, the only shot on target in that opening 45 minutes being produced thanks to a 55-yard shot from Swindon defender Matty Taylor that was never realistically going to test Joe Day.

County did control the proceedings at the County Ground in the first-half, putting together some intricate passing play on occasion, although couldn’t replicate that form into any dangerous moments for home goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook.

Positive work from Shawn McCoulsky produced the best opening from a County perspective in that first-half, although after he skipped past three challenges, the Bristol City loanee couldn’t quite find the correct ball to Dan Butler as the shot drifted past the post from outside the area.

Frank Nouble and captain Joss Labadie both also failed to hit the target when put through on goal, meaning both sides had to settle for heading back to the dressing rooms level.

The lack of chances being created in Wiltshire certainly transpired into the second-half as-well, although you would have to say that it was Swindon this time who started the half as the stronger outfit.

Some superb work from Ellis Iandolo on the left-hand side almost afforded Keshi Anderson with a shooting opportunity, only for Butler to expertly read the situation and get a vital interception on the cross-field pass.

On the counter-attack, the Exiles almost opened the scoring after 64 minutes, although Swindon captain Olly Lancashire did well to throw his body towards a Labadie long-range attempt and deflect it narrowly past the near post.

County were starting to get back into the contest after a somewhat slow start to the second-half and they found the opener with 12 minutes remaining through Tozer.

Dolan whipped another sublime corner towards the six-yard line, this one inch perfect for Tozer to rise highest and send a header towards goal that Charles-Cook could do nothing about but turn into his own net.

That opening goal of the contest clearly sparked Swindon back into action and they had to be repelled three times during the five minutes additional time added on at the end of the match.

Day had to be alert to produce a stunning one-handed save to deny Robins substitute Kellan Gordon, before Mickey Demetriou was required to clear a header away on the goal-line following the resultant corner-kick.

In the final 30 seconds, another corner produced what was Swindon’s best chance from the entire game, although Matt Preston was to be denied by the crossbar as the Exiles held out for a hard-fought victory at the County Ground.

Mike Flynn commented on the away victory: “100% it was the correct result. They hit the crossbar at the end, but I can’t remember another shot they had really. A couple of times as-well where Frank was causing them mayhem, running down the sides of them, cutting inside. Labz had a few shots, I thought we were the better team by far today.”

Swindon Town manager David Flitcroft added: “Today, we have been beaten by a set piece, but I don’t think that is the reason we have lost the game. We didn’t make a big enough impression on their goalkeeper until late on and we have got to do that more. Newport are always going to be a side who come and test you. They’re structurally good and Frank Nouble is in fantastic form.”

 

Officials

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Assistant Referee 1: Paul Hobday

Assistant Referee 2: Kevin Morris

Fourth Official: Craig Taylor

Breakspear is currently embarking on his fifth season as a Football League referee having first officiated a League 2 match on 3rd August 2013 as York City kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 home victory against Northampton Town.

He has refereed 37 games so far this season, the last of which came on Easter Monday as Exeter City kept their automatic promotion hopes alive with a 2-1 home success against Cheltenham Town.

Only one yellow card was produced during that game at St James Park, taking his season tally to 138 yellow cards and 14 red cards from the previous 37 matches. He has also awarded eight penalties this season.

That follows on from refereeing 40 games during the 2016/17 campaign, a season where Breakspear gave out 165 yellow cards and 10 red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.

 

County Connection

Breakspear has refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on ten previous occasions. He is not the luckiest of omens for the Exiles, however, as they have won only two of those previous matches – drawing another four and losing the remaining four.

He has already officiated County on one previous occasion this season – that coming on Boxing Day in the 2-0 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers.

Goals in either half from Nathan Tyson and Adebayo Akinfenwa did the damage for the Chairboys at Adams Park, a match in which County captain Joss Labadie was dismissed in stoppage time for a second bookable offence.

Mickey Demetriou, Frank Nouble and Shawn McCoulsky were also shown yellow cards during that game.

Breakspear refereed three matches involving the Exiles last season, although they were only able to pick up one point from the nine on offer across those games.

His first County game of the 2016/17 season came in the 2-1 defeat to Luton Town, Cameron McGeehan scoring a 97th minute penalty for the Hatters. Jennison Myrie-Williams had earlier cancelled out another McGeehan spot-kick, but the Hatters eventually took all three points on 16th August 2016 with that late strike. 

Darren Jones, Scot Bennett, Mark Randall, Ben Tozer, Jon Parkin and Myrie-Williams were booked on that day from a County perspective, while Johnny Mullins was dismissed for the home side.

The second game last season came as Portsmouth completed a come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Rodney Parade on Boxing Day 2016.

Rhys Healey and Josh Sheehan initially put the Exiles in total command of the contest, only for goals from ex-Exile Danny Rose, Enda Stevens and Kal Naismith to turn the game in Pompey’s favour.

Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Ben Tozer and Healey were all cautioned on that particular occasion.

The final game refereed by Breakspear last season came in the reverse fixture with Luton Town, this game a 1-1 draw at Rodney Parade on 21st March 2017.

Danny Hylton dispatched yet another penalty for the Hatters after just five minutes, although that was cancelled out by a superb free-kick from Sean Rigg.

Mark O’Brien was sent off late in that game as County closed the gap ever further towards League 2 survival, while Tom Owen-Evans, David Pipe, Joss Labadie and Rigg all received yellow cards.

In 2015/16, Breakspear only officiated County on one occasion, that coming as Jordan Rhodes struck in the final minutes to send Blackburn Rovers through to the Fourth Round of the Emirates FA Cup on 18th January 2016.

Mark Byrne had earlier cancelled out a penalty from Ben Marshall, while both teams finished the contest with ten men after Joe Day and Chris Brown were both given straight red cards for professional fouls.

The 2014/15 season also saw just one County game presided over by Breakspear, a match which saw Ismail Yakubu and Andy Sandell both booked in the 0-0 draw at Plymouth Argyle.

Before County’s promotion to the Football League, Breakspear also officiated four matches in the Conference.

Andy Sandell and Christian Jolley both scored as the Exiles secured a 2-0 victory against eventual champions Mansfield Town, while Conor Washington’s solitary goal was enough to secure a play-off spot for County following the 1-0 success at home to Braintree Town.

Two draws bring up the list of County matches officiated by Breakspear – Andy Sandell’s penalty enough for a point in the 1-1 draw at Ebbsfleet, while there was a stalemate in the 0-0 draw with Stockport County.

 

Other League 2 fixtures that day (All 3pm kick-offs unless stated)

Chesterfield vs Mansfield Town (1pm kick-off)

Accrington Stanley vs Exeter City

Cheltenham Town vs Forest Green Rovers

Colchester United vs Notts County

Crawley Town vs Coventry City

Grimsby Town vs Barnet

Luton Town vs Crewe Alexandra

Morecambe vs Carlisle United

Port Vale vs Lincoln City

Stevenage vs Cambridge United

Yeovil Town vs Wycombe Wanderers

 

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.


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