Newport County AFC will be looking to start 2019 in perfect fashion when they travel to Stevenage on New Year’s Day. The Exiles head to Hertfordshire hoping for a first league win in a month to reignite the play-off push, whilst the home side also harbour ambitions of the top seven and need a victory themselves to stay in the hunt.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…
Last five results in League Two
Stevenage’s quest for a play-off spot continues to be a possibility and a couple of successive wins in the coming weeks could see the Hertfordshire side close in on the cluster of sides within the top seven and on 40 points.
They are currently five points off the play-offs, trailing County by just a point and two places in the table in 12th position, and have matched what the Exiles have been able to do in the past five League Two matches by accruing four points from the last 15 available.
That recent run of form doesn’t particularly start off on the best footing, however, as they lost ground on the sides around them when suffering a 1-0 home defeat to Lincoln City thanks to John Akinde’s early penalty.
Stevenage then fought back to claim a point in a 1-1 draw with Northampton Town, Ben Kennedy cancelling out Dean Bowditch’s effort, but they lost ground again in the 3-1 home defeat to play-off aspiring Mansfield Town. Danny Newton initially gave Boro the lead, but Ryan Sweeney’s equaliser followed by a double from Tyler Walker gave the Stags all three points.
On Boxing Day and again on Saturday, Stevenage twice travelled away from home, starting with a really impressive 2-1 victory at another play-off contender in Colchester United. Rene Gilmartin’s own-goal and another from Newton set them on their way, and they managed to hold on after Luke Prosser’s late consolation.
But Stevenage have recently struggled to maintain any form over a sustained amount of time, last winning successive league matches in late October / early November and they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Crewe Alexandra on Saturday. The Railwaymen – who toppled league leaders Lincoln on Boxing Day – secured victory this time through Chris Porter’s first-half penalty.
Stevenage manager Dino Maamria should be able to rely on the services of most members of his playing squad when welcoming Newport County AFC to Hertfordshire.
He will, however, be missing striker Alex Reid who starts his three-match suspension for receiving a straight red card on Wednesday. The 23-year old had only been on the pitch for 23 minutes when catching Crewe Alexandra defender Perry Ng with a high challenge.
There also remains question marks on how long midfielder Michael Timlin will play at the Lamex Stadium. The 33-year old suffered a gash in his leg earlier this month, but returned to play the full 90 minutes against Crewe. Two games in four days may be too much, however.
Boxing Day – Stevenage team vs Colchester United (4-4-2): Farman, VanCouten, Cuthbert (C), Nugent, Seddon, Kennedy (Henry 85’), Byrom, Iontton, Kennedy, Campbell-Ryce (Hunt 86’), Guthrie, Newton (Revell 70’)
29th December – Stevenage team vs Crewe Alexandra (4-4-2): Farman, VanCouten, Cuthbert (C), Nugent, Seddon, Kennedy, Byrom (Iontton 71’), Timlin (Revell 86’), Campbell-Ryce (Reid 56’), Guthrie, Newton
One to Watch – Danny Newton
A striker that has seemingly recaptured his best form of late, Danny Newton still has a long way to go if he is to mirror his stellar breakthrough season in the Football League.
This season, the 27-year old has scored five goals from 21 appearances, but crucially has three matchwinners against Macclesfield Town, Oldham Athletic and Colchester United. The other strikes came in matches with Mansfield Town and Notts County.
Newton only experienced what life is like in the Football League at the beginning of last season when Stevenage made a move for his signature. Interestingly, the striker scored against the Exiles on his League Two debut, one of 16 goals from 51 appearances across all competitions.
It was certainly an intriguing way that Stevenage heard about the Liverpudlian – having picked him up in the same way County signed former striker Lamar Reynolds, through Jamie Vardy’s V9 academy.
A place in Vardy’s talent discovery programme came after a glittering seven years in the non-leagues of the English pyramid, which started out with Newton being the strike partner to now Watford striker Andre Gray at Hinckley United.
From there, he went to the National League North with Nuneaton Town but couldn’t particularly settle at the club, so was loaned out to Barwell before making a permanent move to Brackley Town.
A move to Leamington soon materialised, a club he managed to score 30 goals for from 60 appearances, and he virtually mirrored that ratio over two seasons with Tamworth – winning the player of the year award in 2016/17.
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 last season when signing Newton and Blair Turgott from the five-day trial process.
Manager – Dino Maamria
A former assistant manager at Newport County AFC during the tenure of Graham Westley, Tunisian Dino Maamria has now forged a successful management career for himself and he continues to progress at Stevenage.
Taking to the hotseat on 20th March 2018, the Hertfordshire outfit finished the 2017/18 campaign with a bit of form, and they have carried on that success this campaign and they don’t sit too far away from the play-offs.
Maamria has struggled in the cup competitions, however, and Stevenage failed to progress past the first round in any of the three respective competitions. Despite that, Maamria has won 35.9% of his 39 matches in charge.
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 managerial scene in 2015 with Southport.
He managed 22 matches at the club before leaving via mutual consent, winning nine of those games, before going on to manage the same number of matches at Nuneaton Town in the National League North.
Some good performances with the club clearly alerted Stevenage and the temptation to manage in the Football League was too hard to turn down when they came calling for his services.
Stadium – The Lamex Stadium
Currently undergoing some maintenance to the North Stand behind one of the goals, the Lamex Stadium has been a place frequented by County on several occasions in recent years.
Following a successful fundraising initiative of around £600,000, the plan is to eventually build a new 1,400 seated stand behind the goal, but work has recently been delayed due to an issue with an electric substation.
The work is scheduled to recommence in the middle of January and the hope is for the stand to be fully functional by the start of the 2019/20 season.
In the meantime, capacity is currently reduced to 6,300, with Stevenage seeing higher attendances before this work began. The record attendance stands at 8,040 for an Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round with Newcastle United – a game Stevenage lost 2-1 on 4th February 1998.
On matchday, County fans will be housed directly opposite the construction work of the North Stand and behind the other goal in an all-seater stand. Around 1,400 away supporters could be accommodated.
The Exiles have travelled to Hertfordshire in each of the last four seasons but haven’t tasted success, starting when 228 away supporters travelled for a 2-1 defeat on 7th March 2015. It was another 2-1 defeat on 16th April 2016 when 190 fans attended.
Stevenage made it three successive home victories against County with a 3-1 success on 7th January 2017 when 140 supporters travelled. An incredible fightback saw County grab a point from a 3-3 draw on 5th August 2017, this time a record 464 set off from South Wales.
Last meeting between the two sides
Newport County AFC 2 – 1 Stevenage
Saturday 13th October 2018
Antoine Semenyo’s stoppage time winner perfectly illustrated Newport County AFC’s never say die attitude as they secured a 2-1 victory over Stevenage at Rodney Parade.
As well as that perfectly timed finale, County also started the contest on the correct note when finding the target after just 46 seconds.
Matty Dolan made a blistering early impact on proceedings, playing a one-two with Tyreeq Bakinson on the edge-of-the-area and when the ball sat up invitingly, Dolan didn’t need a second invitation to thump a spectacular strike into the top corner.
The swirling conditions at Rodney Parade certainly made it hard for both sides and very few other chances could be created in the first-half, but Stevenage did find an equaliser with the only other shot on target during the opening 45 minutes.
Some good interchange down the left-side saw Steve Seddon whip an inviting delivery into the area and when Luther James-Wildin ghosted in behind the County defence, the right-back headed back across goal and into the far corner.
In the second-half, Jamille Matt, Mickey Demetriou and Dan Butler all stung the palms of Stevenage goalkeeper Seny Dieng but it looked like County might have to settle for a point.
That was until Antoine Semenyo’s divine intervention with 98 minutes on the clock. The 18-year old picked up the ball after Demetriou saw a shot blocked, taking one touch to set himself before firing past Dieng to send Rodney Parade into rapture.
Referee: Andy Haines
Assistant Referee 1: George Byrne
Assistant Referee 2: Callum Walchester
Fourth Official: Daniel Cook
Haines is currently embarking on his 12th season as a Football League referee having officiated his first match in League Two on 11th August 2007 when Chester and Chesterfield played out a 0-0 draw.
He has refereed 22 games so far this season, giving out 69 yellow cards and three red cards, including five on the opening day of the season as Walsall started the League One campaign with a 2-1 home victory over Plymouth Argyle.
Two matches have passed this season without Haines going to his pocket – Leeds United’s victory over Bolton Wanderers in the EFL Cup on 14th August alongside Bury FC’s 2-1 home success over Tranmere Rovers just before Christmas on 22nd December.
Haines’ league high number of yellow cards stands at six, a figure he’s only given out once, when Exeter City inflicted Mansfield Town’s solitary League Two defeat so far this season in a 2-1 away success on 15th September.
Those statistics follow on from refereeing a total of 33 matches across all competitions in `the 2017/18 campaign, a season in which Haines gave out 99 yellow cards and six red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.
Haines has officiated a match involving Newport County AFC on three previous occasions in League Two. Something will have to give at the Lamex Stadium – as County have won once, drawn once and lost once in previous matches officiated by Haines.
The most recent occasion in which he refereed the Exiles was 27th August 2016 when Sean Rigg and Jon Parkin struck in a 2-2 draw at Hartlepool United. Darren Jones and Mark Randall were booked whilst Hartlepool’s Aristote Nsiala was sent off for deliberate handball.
The second County game Haines officiated in the 2016/17 came on 19th November 2016 when the Exiles stormed to a 3-0 away victory at Notts County. Sean Rigg was booked in a game where he also found the target, with the other goals coming courtesy of Josh Sheehan and Rhys Healey.
That just leaves the remaining County fixture that Haines has presided over and it came on 2nd November 2013 during the comprehensive 4-1 defeat at Fleetwood Town. Robbie Willmott got sent off, whilst there were bookings for Adam Chapman, Ryan Jackson and Lee Minshull.
Other League Two matches that day (All 3pm kick-offs unless stated)
Grimsby Town vs Mansfield Town (1pm kick-off)
Bury FC vs Crewe Alexandra
Crawley Town vs Colchester United
Forest Green Rovers vs Northampton Town
Lincoln City vs Port Vale
Macclesfield Town vs Tranmere Rovers
MK Dons vs Cambridge United
Morecambe vs Carlisle United
Oldham Athletic vs Notts County
Swindon Town vs Exeter City
Yeovil Town vs Cheltenham 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 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.