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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Forest Green Rovers next up at Rodney Parade

5 March 2018

Newport County AFC will be looking for their first win in nine matches from all competitions when they entertain Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night. The Exiles will also be seeking a first goal in over 500 minutes of football, while the visitors head to South Wales looking for three points that would help them enormously in their fight to remain in League 2 for another season.

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

Last six league matches

Like County, Forest Green Rovers will head to South Wales having had the weekend off, with their encounter away at Crewe Alexandra one of the ten matches in League 2 to be called off due to the extreme weather conditions.

Before that postponement, the Green Devils had been on a pretty decent run of form in the fourth tier of English football, following three wins, one draw and two defeats from their last six league matches.

That run actually starts with the two defeats, the first of which came in Cumbria as Jamie Devitt continued his rich vein of scoring form to give play-off chasing Carlisle United a slender 1-0 victory.

Jayden Stockley’s 15th goal of the campaign twinned with a penalty from Pierce Sweeney helped another play-off contender in Exeter City to a 2-0 home victory, a result which plunged Rovers into the relegation zone.

The run of games against play-off occupying teams continued as Coventry City came to the New Lawn. But this was a much better result than the previous two, as they climbed back out of the drop-zone with a 2-1 victory.

Debutant Alex Bray gave Rovers a half-time lead with a reactive tap-in, before Marc McNulty levelled proceedings with a penalty on the hour-mark.

But Lee Collins’ rocket into the top corner gave the Gloucestershire outfit a much-needed win, curtailing Coventry’s bid for the automatic promotion places in the process while leaving themselves two points above the drop with 15 matches to play.

That was their last game before the original postponement at Rodney Parade, meaning there was a two-week break in matches for the side before Stevenage were next to visit Nailsworth.

And the rest certainly seemed to inspire the side as they made it four successive home victories with a 3-1 success.

Those three points required them to come from behind in the game, as Luke Wilkinson gave Stevenage the lead midway through the first half.

A sending off for ex-Cardiff City striker Alex Revell just four minutes later diminished that positive start for the away side, with goals from Reuben Reid, Farrend Rawson and Christian Doidge turning the game on its head.

In their most recent away game, Rovers came agonisingly close to a first away win since 21st October after the long trip up to Morecambe.

January addition Chris Clements opened the scoring with a thumping 25-yard strike, only for Gregg Wylde to strike with seconds remaining to salvage a point for Morecambe.

Rovers certainly bounced back from that late equaliser in their most recent game, as they shocked in-form Crawley Town with a 2-0 home victory.

Goals from Reid and Doidge ensured Rovers remained unbeaten throughout the whole of February, while they will travel to Rodney Parade in 19th position in the League 2 table and six points clear of Chesterfield in the relegation zone.

 

Team-News

 It appears that Forest Green Rovers will head to Rodney Parade with a clean bill of health after manager Mark Cooper revealed ahead of the Crewe game that his squad was in perfect shape.

Cooper commented: "It's a clean bill of health for the squad. We've got a midweek game next week (against Newport,) weather permitting, so we've got a few games coming up and we've got to make sure everyone is fresh."

Cooper brought in 10 new additions during the January transfer window to try and strengthen the sides chances of prolonging their stay in League 2 past just one season, and those signings appear to be the right ones as Reuben Reid, Chris Clements and Dayle Grubb have all scored vital goals since joining the club.

Defender Manny Monthe joined Tranmere Rovers on loan ten days ago, while midfielder Drissa Traore left the Nailsworth outfit via mutual consent early last week.

Those departures didn’t affect Cooper’s team selection too much between the two most recent games, although he did make one change to the side for the Crawley game as Alex Bray came in to replace Dan Wishart.  

Forest Green team vs Crawley Town (4-4-2): Collins, Bennett, Gunning, Rawson, Hollis, Bray (Wishart 63’), Clements (Collins 72’), Osbourne, Grubb (Laird 90+4), Doidge, Reid

 

One to Watch – Chris Clements

Clements has certainly hit the ground running since his arrival at the Gloucestershire side during the January transfer window.

The 28-year old has joined on loan until the end of the season from relegation rivals Grimsby Town, having failed to make an appearance with the Mariners this campaign.

He has already scored for Forest Green in just the four appearances he has been able to make, that coming as Rovers secured themselves a first point on the road in three months at Morecambe.

Prior to joining the Nailsworth outfit, the attacking midfielder spent the first half of the season on loan at National League side Barrow.

He couldn’t find the net at Holker Street, however, meaning he has some way to go in order to beat his record return for a campaign, which came in 2012 when he scored 12 goals over the season.

League 2 is currently the highest level of football he has played at so far in his career, as he spent his youth days at Crewe Alexandra.

Clements had several loan spells away from the Gresty Road outfit across his three years on professional terms, those including Nantwich Town, Leigh Genesis and Icelandic club IBV, meaning he only made just one appearance for the club before his release in 2010.

That saw him end up at Hednesford Town, a club he scored 19 times for in 90 appearances, including winning the young player of the year award in 2012.

A trial for the Burnley reserves that summer turned out to be unsuccessful, although he clearly impressed enough in the game against Tranmere to tempt Mansfield Town to make a move.

He helped the side secure the Conference title in his debut season, part of the 154 appearances he made for the Stags, while finding the net on 11 occasions.

Grimsby signed Clements on an 18-month deal on 18th January 2017, with the attacking midfielder making 16 appearances for the club before his loan spells at Barrow and Forest Green respectively.  

 

Last time out

 

Forest Green Rovers 0 – 4 Newport County AFC

Saturday 14th October 2017

Padraig Amond bagged his first away goals in a County shirt with Scot Bennett and Shawn McCoulsky also scoring as the Exiles secured a superb 4-0 away victory at Forest Green Rovers.

Amond had both of his goals before half-time, the products of an extremely dominative County performance in the first-half.

The first came on the quarter-of-an-hour with another corner goal for the Exiles, Amond finishing cleverly from close range after Scot Bennett had headed back across goal from Matty Dolan’s delivery.

His second was a little easier and came on 40 minutes after superb work from his strike-partner Frank Nouble.

Mickey Demetriou launched a 40-yard pass into Nouble’s path outside the area and after skipping past two challenges through the Rovers defence, chipped the goalkeeper to allow Amond to tap home and send the Exiles back to the dressing rooms with a two-goal advantage.

Newport-born striker Christian Doidge provided the greatest resistance for Rovers during that first-half, forcing Joe Day into two smart saves with powerful headers either side of Amond’s opener.   

But if anything, the Exiles started the second-half the more likely to extend their advantage.

More superb build-up play from County spanning at-least 15 passes almost got them another goal on the hour, although Dolan couldn’t quite get the curl required for his shot to creep into the far post from just outside the area.   

Then, when Rovers came in search of a way back into the game, the Exiles put the contest beyond question with goals in the 78th and 86th minutes.

First, Scot Bennett smashed home in the area after Rovers defender Mark Roberts failed to clear a long-throw from Ben Tozer, putting the Exiles into cruise control with the goal.

Shawn McCoulsky made the victory even more convincing with a late fourth, heading home unmarked from inside the area after Dan Butler had worked tirelessly to run down the left-hand side and provide the perfect cross. 

Mike Flynn said of the win: “What an away performance that was – the boys were outstanding. I’ve been asking them to take more of their chances and today they did that. They were ruthless, could have had a few more if I’m being a bit picky but the boys were outstanding today. Arguably it is the best performance under me, yes.”

Forest Green Rovers manager Mark Cooper added: “We worked on Newport’s dominance at set pieces and then two of our most senior players allow free headers for their first goal. I’ll take that on the chin but it’s disappointing after the last three games where we have played so well. It’s another defeat and one we fully deserved to lose today."

 

Officials

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Assistant Referee 1: Dean Treleaven

Assistant Referee 2: Kevin Morris

Fourth Official: Simon Shaw

Interestingly, Christopher Sarginson will again take charge of Newport County AFC vs Forest Green Rovers after also being selected for the original game which was postponed.

He was fourth official for Fulham’s 2-1 away win at Derby County on Saturday, meaning his last game as a referee came on 24th February as ex-Exile Alex Rodman helped his Shrewsbury side to a 2-0 victory at Charlton Athletic.

Five yellow cards were brandished on that occasion, taking his season tally to 114 yellow cards and five red cards from 34 matches.  Three of those dismissals actually came in the same match, as Yeovil beat Stevenage 3-0 at Huish Park in October.

That follows on from his record last season which reads as 121 yellow cards and seven red cards from 41 league and cup fixtures.

 

County Connection

 

Sarginson has officiated County on eight previous occasions in both League 2 and the Emirates FA Cup. He is not one of the luckiest omens for the Exiles, however, as County have only won two of those previous matches.

He has already refereed Newport County AFC once this season and that match certainly wasn’t without its drama.

It was the Cambridge away tie on 16th December 2017 that Sarginson oversaw, a game that the Exiles won in the dying seconds through a goal from captain Joss Labadie.

Shawn McCoulsky had earlier put County in-front before a stunning 25-yard equaliser from Jevani Brown - with Ben White, Joss Labadie and Frank Nouble all booked from a County perspective.

Sarginson only officiated one County game last season and that wasn’t without its dramatic finale either.

The date was 4th February 2017 and a Janaai Gordon goal deep into injury time in-front of over 800 County fans rescued a point in the 1-1 draw with Cheltenham Town. Gordon was also booked in that fixture.

The 2015/16 season also saw Sarginson officiate two County matches.

Yan Klukowski and Scott Boden scored in the 2-2 draw at Accrington Stanley, as Jazzi Barnum-Bobb and Alex Rodman were cautioned.

Mark Byrne was the only player booked as County lost 1-0 to Northampton Town in the other game that season as the Cobblers all but sealed the League 2 title.

In 2014/15, another two County games were officiated by Sarginson.

Goals from Chris Zebroski, Darren Jones and Lee Minshull lifted the Exiles to a 3-2 victory over Northampton Town in the first game, as Kevin Feely and Joe Pigott were both booked.

Sarginson first refereed County on the road against Luton Town on 8th November 2014 in the Emirates FA Cup. The Hatters secured a 4-2 victory in the First-Round clash, as Lee Minshull and Chris Zebroski were both shown yellow cards.

The first County games that Sarginson refereed was the first season in which the Exiles were back in the Football League.

The first of those matches came way back on the 14th September 2013 as a penalty from Padraig Amond helped Morecambe to a 3-2 victory at Rodney Parade. Billy Jones scored on his debut and Robbie Willmott also found the net for County, as Harry Worley and Tom Naylor were both booked.

The next game refereed by Sarginson that season came in the 0-0 draw with Bury at Rodney Parade. This time four yellows cards were given out to the Exiles – Adam Chapman, Chris Zebroski, Aaron Holloway and Lee Minshull all cautioned.

 

Other League 2 fixtures that day (All 7:45pm kick-offs)

Accrington Stanley vs Morecambe

Cheltenham Town vs Notts County

Mansfield Town vs Lincoln City

 

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 #iFollowExiles. 


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