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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Notts County next up at Rodney Parade

16 February 2018

Newport County AFC will be looking for their first win in seven matches across all competitions when they host Notts County on Saturday. Everyone concerned with the club will remember what happened the last time the Magpies made the trip to South Wales, while the away side will themselves be looking for three points that would boost their chances of a potential promotion to League 1.

 Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League 2 fixture. 

 

Last six league matches

A somewhat poor run of form from the Magpies of late has seen them slip-out of the automatic promotion places over the last six league matches, following two wins, one draw and three defeats.

That run starts with the solitary draw as Notts County played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with fellow promotion hopefuls Lincoln City in-front of a sell-out crowd at Sincil Bank.

Jon Stead put the Magpies in-front midway through the first-half, before goals from ex-Exile Matt Green and Lee Frecklington turned the game on its head.  

But Jorge Grant pegged back the Imps with a late equaliser, ensuring the points were shared in Lincolnshire.

In their next match, Notts County saw their unbeaten home record shattered by Exeter City in a 2-1 away victory.

Jake Taylor scored in the opening ten minutes to put the Grecians in command, before Jayden Stockley added a second to take the game away from the Magpies.  

Stead scored from the spot in the second-half to give the home side a chance of remaining unbeaten at Meadow Lane, but Exeter held on to ensure everybody in League 2 has now suffered at least one home defeat.  

And no sooner had they responded to that first home defeat, they had to contend with another as Crawley Town also secured a 2-1 victory just three days later.

Stead again scored a penalty to cancel out Jimmy Smith’s early effort, before one of the most dramatic ends to a League 2 game this season.

The Magpies saw two players sent off in the first three minutes of added time, with Crawley taking full advantage of that through Josh Payne’s 95th minute penalty.

But Notts County certainly responded to those back-to-back defeats by securing a thumping 4-1 success over Crewe Alexandra.

They had to contend with falling behind again, however, as Shaun Miller gave Crewe a shock lead.

Goals from Noor Husin, debutant Mason Bennett and two from Elliott Hewitt finally saw the Magpies back to winning ways, as they climbed back into the top three places in the league.

But they dropped straight back out of the automatic places in their next game as Graham Westley secured his first win as Barnet manager in a 1-0 home victory.

It was certainly route one football for the winner in additional time, Alex Nicholls superbly volleying home from a long kick by goalkeeper Craig Ross.

The Magpies again responded to a defeat in their most recent game, a double from Stead setting them on their way to a 2-1 home victory over Carlisle United.

Jamie Devitt continued his rich vein of scoring form to set up a tense finale at Meadow Lane, but Notts County held on to remain in 4th position in the League 2 table ahead of their trip to Rodney Parade, just two points off the automatic promotion places.

 

Team-News

The Magpies have a couple of injury concerns ahead of their trip to Rodney Parade.

Striker Mason Bennett is expected to spend several weeks on the treatment table following a hamstring injury two weeks ago.

The Derby loanee limped off at half-time of the 1-0 defeat to Barnet, with manager Kevin Nolan not expecting a return for the player any time soon.

He said: I'm gutted for the lad because he looked sharp in training. We're hoping it isn't as bad as first feared but we won't be seeing him any time soon.”

The away side have also had to cope with a flu bug that has been sweeping around the club.

Defender Shaun Brisley will be assessed on the severity of his illness ahead of the game in South Wales, while Elliott Hewitt, Alan Smith and Lewis Alessandra have all been affected.  

And Nolan confirmed he may not risk the players affected by the bug for the match on Saturday.

He added: “The people who are coming back from illness - is it right to take them on a four-hour coach journey there and back? We’ve got a lot of decisions to make.”

Midfielder Michael O’Connor is a long-term absentee for the Nottinghamshire outfit.

Those injury and illness concerns meant Nolan had to make five changes to the side for Tuesday’s home victory over Carlisle United.

Notts County team vs Carlisle United (4-4-2): Collin, Tootle, Duffy, Hall, Jones, Noble, Husin, Hewitt (Grant 83’), Alessandra, Stead, Ameobi (Forte 82’)

 

One to Watch – Jon Stead

 

Stead is on course for his best goal scoring return across a season following an excellent start to the 2017/18 campaign.  

The 34-year old has scored 13 goals this season, including finding his name on the scoresheet in seven of the last nine matches across all competitions.

He has directly won his side seven points already this campaign, after scoring the winners against Swindon and Port Vale, in addition to the equaliser at home to Accrington.

Further league goals come against Lincoln, Luton, Exeter, Crawley and a double against Carlisle, while he has also netted in Emirates FA Cup games against Bristol Rovers, Oxford City, Brentford and Swansea City.

This is currently Stead’s third campaign with the Nottinghamshire side, a club he has so far scored 41 goals for from 126 appearances.

The striker has had a very successful playing career since turning professional in 2002 when he made his debut for hometown club Huddersfield Town.

A seven-figure move to Blackburn Rovers in January 2004 gave him a first shot at the Premier League, scoring the winner on his debut against Middlesbrough.

But the goals dried up for Stead following that quick start, moving to Sunderland 18 months later following just eight goals from 47 appearances.

He could only score two goals with the side during his stint so moved to Sheffield United via a loan spell with Derby County.

Three years were spent with the Blades, one in the Premier League, before a switch to Ipswich Town in 2008.

A loan spell with Coventry City came during his spell with Ipswich, while he has also appeared for Bristol City, Oldham Athletic and Bradford City.

His best goal scoring return for a season currently stands at 18, that coming during the 2003-04 campaign with Huddersfield Town, although he has reached double figures in each of the last four campaigns.   

All that sees Stead having scored 146 professional goals over the course of 589 appearances during his career.

 

Last time out

 

Notts County 3 – 0 Newport County AFC

Saturday 28th October 2017

Notts County returned to the top of the League 2 table following a 3-0 victory over Newport County AFC at Meadow Lane.

Despite the scoreline, it was in-fact the Exiles who made the livelier start to proceedings in Nottinghamshire, Frank Nouble forcing a smart save from home goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimons with a curling effort from the edge-of-the-area.

Mickey Demetriou and Dan Butler both then had efforts kept out by Fitzsimons before the half-hour mark, the game finely balanced at this point, although that would all change on 34 minutes.

A coming together between Matt Tootle and Butler left the Notts County defender on the floor, with referee Craig Hicks brandishing a red card to Butler for allegedly leading into the challenge with his elbow.

And the Magpies made the man advantage count within two minutes of the sending off, Jorge Grant completing a swift counter-attacking move by side-footing past Joe Day from 15 yards after being played in by fellow forward Jon Stead.

A stunning save from Day denied Elliott Hewitt on 41 minutes as the Magpies were intent on making their numerical advantage count, although County managed to get to half-time with just a one-goal deficit.

But the Magpies ensured they would make the numerical advantage count in the second-half by scoring twice in as many minutes to take the game away from the Exiles.

Grant turned provider for the second on 53 minutes, drilling a delivery across the face of goal for Shola Ameobi to slide home after beating the retreating Ben Tozer to the ball.

And on 55 minutes, Grant capped off his man-of-the-match display by getting his 10th of the season and second of the afternoon.

It came as the product of more intricate passing play by the home side, Grant calmly dispatching the opportunity at the second attempt despite the best efforts of Scot Bennett on the goal-line.

Stead, Hewitt and Tootle were all denied by superb saves from Day by the time the game had elapsed 70 minutes, the tide well and truly turning against the Exiles following a lively start.

Grant came within a whisker of his hat-trick on 77 minutes, rattling the top of Day’s crossbar when it looked impossible to get it up and over the wall, Stead hitting the base of the post with the rebound.

No further goals could be found as the Magpies returned to the top-of-the-table with a flourish, the Exiles slipping out of the play-offs and down to 8th following the defeat in Nottinghamshire.

Mike Flynn said of the defeat: “I’m proud of the players with the attitude and the work ethic that they showed in tough circumstances.Notts County have won 3-0, they could have scored a few more, I’m not happy with the goals that we conceded but my boys kept going and kept working so it’s just one of those days that I’m going to scratch off if I’m honest.”

Notts County manager Kevin Nolan added: “I’m absolutely delighted with today because we looked more like ourselves.You don’t automatically have the right to win the game because they have a man sent off, so we had to earn it.It was a real team effort today.”

 

Officials

 

Referee: Robert Lewis

Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Lee

Assistant Referee 2: Christopher Wade

Fourth Official: Matt Eva

Lewis is currently embarking on his 13th season as a Football League referee having officiated his first game on 1st October 2005 as Rochdale beat Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 in League 2.

He has refereed 20 matches so far this season, of which the last came on 10th February as Crewe Alexandra and Yeovil Town played out a 0-0 draw in Cheshire.

Two yellow cards were given out to the Glovers during the game at Gresty Road, taking his season tally to 53 yellow cards and three red cards from the 20 matches.

That follows on from his record last season which reads as 50 yellow cards and two red cards from just 16 matches.  

 

County Connection

 

Lewis has refereed Newport County AFC on six previous occasions in League 2 and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. The Exiles have a mixed bag of results from the games officiated by Lewis, following two wins, one draw and three defeats.

He has already officiated the Exiles once this season. That came on New Years Day as County started 2018 with a 2-1 home victory over Exeter City.

Padraig Amond’s early header was cancelled out by Grecian striker Jayden Stockley midway through the second-half, before Robbie Willmott secured all three points with a spectacular 25-yard winner.

David Pipe and Matty Dolan were booked that afternoon from a County perspective, while Jordan Tillson and Lloyd James were cautioned for the away side.

Interestingly, Lewis was also supposed to be the man in the middle for this season’s home game with Colchester United. But a clash with Charlton’s Josh Magennis three days prior to the game caused Lewis to be ruled out with concussion and replaced by Darren England.  

The 2016/17 season also saw one County game officiated by Lewis.

That came on 7th January 2017 as a Matt Godden hat-trick saw Stevenage to a 3-1 home victory. Dan Butler grabbed a late consolation for the Exiles that afternoon, while Sid Nelson and Scot Bennett were both booked.

In 2015/16, Lewis again only officiated one game involving County, as Paul Mullin struck a stoppage-time penalty to give Morecambe a 2-1 victory at Rodney Parade on 12th September 2015.

Scott Barrow had earlier cancelled out ex-Exile Alan Goodall’s header with a stunning long-range effort, who later received a booking alongside Aaron Hayden.

The 2014/15 season saw Lewis be the man in the middle for two matches involving the Exiles.

Mark Byrne struck a late equaliser to cancel out Rory Donnelly’s strike in the 1-1 home draw with Tranmere Rovers, Andy Sandell the only player booked for the Exiles on 10th February 2015.

Cian Bolger and Stephen McLaughlin’s goals either side of half-time saw Southend to a 2-0 victory on 14th April 2015, no bookings given out to County on that occasion. 

That just leaves the first game to be refereed by Lewis involving County.

Goals from Chris Zebroski, Adam Chapman and an own-goal from Connor Essam saw County overturn a two-goal deficit to beat Crawley Town in the JPT, Andy Sandell the only County player cautioned on 8th October 2013.

 

Other League 2 games that day (All 3pm kick-offs)

Barnet vs Accrington Stanley

Cambridge United vs Grimsby Town

Carlisle United vs Chesterfield

Cheltenham Town vs Wycombe Wanderers

Crawley Town vs Lincoln City

Crewe Alexandra vs Colchester United

Exeter City vs Mansfield Town

Morecambe vs Forest Green Rovers

Stevenage vs Yeovil Town

Swindon Town vs Port Vale

 

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 2.45pm. 


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