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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Luton Town next up at Rodney Parade

16 March 2018

Newport County AFC will be looking to make it back-to-back wins when they host high-flying Luton Town on Saturday. The Exiles will also be searching for a first home win in nearly two months during the game, although they haven’t lost at Rodney Parade in that time, while the away side will head to South Wales determined to strengthen their position in the automatic promotion places after a solid season so far.

Tickets for this match are still available and here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League 2 encounter.

 

Last six league matches

Interestingly, Luton Town head to Rodney Parade on Saturday with just one win from their last six league matches, although the Hatters have only lost another one of those matches alongside four draws.

That run starts with a draw on the 10th February 2018 when a dramatic final five minutes saw Stevenage and Luton play out a 1-1 stalemate.

Hatters striker James Collins coolly dispatched a penalty to seemingly give Luton all three points after 85 minutes, only for in-form Boro striker Danny Newton to net three minutes later and ensure the points were shared.

Then comes the win as Collins came back to haunt his former club Crawley Town in a 4-1 victory at Kenilworth Road.

Olly Lee and Luke Berry found the net alongside a double from Collins as the Hatters sealed a comprehensive victory over a resurgent Crawley side, who scored late through Karlan Ahearne-Grant to take a consolation back with them to West Sussex.  

Two successive draws then come, starting with a thrilling 2-2 encounter with Cheltenham Town in Bedfordshire.

Wales U21 international Joe Morrell gave the Robins a half-time lead with a goal a minute before the interval, while Luton passed up a great chance to get back on level terms straight after the restart as Collins missed a poor spot-kick.

Mo Eisa piled on more misery to the Hatters when doubling Cheltenham’s lead just 50 seconds later for his 18th of the season, before the home side staged a remarkable comeback.  

Berry halved the deficit midway through the second-half to get them back in contention, before captain Alan Sheehan headed home in stoppage time to ensure a share of the spoils.

There was another late goal in their next game, although this one went the other way in the 1-1 draw at Cambridge United.

It was another eventful afternoon for Collins, who scored in the first-half before being dismissed in the second-half, setting the stage for Jabo Ibehre to pop up seven minutes from time and force Luton to settle for yet another draw.

The Hatters have been sat atop of League 2 since 25th November but were knocked off it for the first time in nearly four months when Accrington Stanley leapfrogged them following a 2-1 away victory on 10th March.  

Sean McConville scored a stunning effort from distance to give Stanley a half-time lead, before Elliott Lee responded for Luton in the second-half.

But an emphatic strike deep into stoppage time from League 2 top scorer Billy Kee gave Accrington an important victory at Kenilworth Road, strengthening their battle for automatic promotion in the process.  

In their most recent match, Luton once again had the chance to return to the top of the table with a trip to Coventry City on Tuesday night.

But the Hatters couldn’t take advantage of a night off for Stanley as they were held to a 2-2 draw by another side chasing promotion from League 2 this campaign.

Peter Vincenti scored after just three minutes to give the Sky Blues a solid platform to build on, before Marc McNulty doubled the advantage in first-half stoppage time.

It took another comeback for the Hatters to get anything from the game, Scott Cuthbert and a goal two minutes from time by Collins salvaging a point at the Ricoh Arena.

That leaves Luton in second place and with 70 points in the League 2 table, with manager Nathan Jones calling on a battling finish from his side to ensure a promotion into League 1, with the Hatters currently seven points ahead of the chasing pack in search for automatic promotion.

He said: “We work tirelessly every day. I am a passionate manager and I work tirelessly. If they want to get out of this level, then they have got to play their part and they have done tonight, second half they were magnificent."

 

Team-News

The Hatters came through Tuesday night unscathed as both Danny Hylton and Alan Sheehan avoided their tenth yellow cards of the season before the cut-off point.

That leaves just Lawson D’Ath as the only confirmed absentee, as the midfielder continues to work his way back from a knee injury.

Manager Nathan Jones made three changes to the side for that trip to Coventry City in midweek, as captain Scott Cuthbert made his first start for over four months after recovering from a groin injury.

James Collins also returned to the side after completing his suspension for a red card away at Cambridge United, while Harry Cornick was the final alteration from a Luton perspective.  

Luton team vs Coventry City (4-3-3): Stech, Potts, Sheehan, Cuthbert (C), Stacey, Berry, Rea (Gambin 66’), Downes, Cornick (Lee 66’), Collins, Hylton

 

One to Watch – Danny Hylton

 

Danny Hylton has formed a lethal strike-partnership with James Collins this season, with the pair having already scored a combined 35 goals across all competitions.

Hylton has just under half of those goals with 17, although with just nine games to go looks set to miss out on beating his season high tally he set last season, where his 27 goals propelled Luton into the League 2 play-offs.

He has one hat-trick already this season, that coming in the emphatic 7-0 victory over Cambridge United at Kenilworth Road, whilst also scoring twice against Stevenage and County in the previous meeting earlier this season.

Other goals come against Mansfield, Chesterfield, Accrington, Exeter, Crewe, Forest Green, Swindon, Lincoln and in the Emirates FA Cup against Gateshead and Newcastle United.

That leaves the 29-year old joint sixth in the League 2 goal scoring charts, with the striker having scored 44 goals for Luton Town from 81 competitive appearances.

Interestingly, he is currently on his longest goal-drought of the season. Hylton has gone six without a goal, the last coming on 6th January, and failing to score a goal against County would tie with his longest drought since joining Luton - when he went seven without a goal from December 2016 – February 2017.

Luton are just the fourth permanent club of a career that started in the youth ranks at Aldershot Town in 2005.

He spent eight seasons with the club, helping them secure promotion to League 2 in 2008, scoring 53 goals from 226 appearances.

That saw Rotherham United of League 1 sign Hylton on 18th June 2013 on a two-year deal.

But for whatever reason, the 29-year old only made one appearance for the Millers and was instead loaned out to Bury and then AFC Wimbledon for the remainder of that season.

Oxford United then gave him a contract for the start of the 2014/15 season where Hylton really started to regain his best form.

He finished his first season as the club’s top scorer with 16 from all competitions, although that was only good enough for Oxford to secure a mid-table finish.

His second season with the club was much better, however, as the U’s were promoted to League 1 and they reached the CheckaTrade Trophy final at Wembley.

Hylton then rejected a new contract with the side to stay in League 2 with Luton Town. All that sees the 29-year old currently with statistics of 132 professional goals from 437 competitive appearances.

 

Last time out

Luton Town 3 – 1 Newport County AFC

Saturday 30th September 2017

A spirited fightback in the second-half wasn’t enough for Newport County AFC to take anything away from their exploits at Kenilworth Road as they fell to a 3-1 defeat against Luton Town.

The Hatters had all of their goals in an end-to-end first-half that was epitomised by their clinicality in-front of goal.

Alan Sheehan’s 35-yard free-kick evaded everyone in the County box before settling into Joe Day’s far corner, that strike coming after just 12 minutes of the contest.

That goal seemed to really spark Luton into action, with the home side putting together some intricate passing plays, and they nearly extended the lead four minutes later.

After being found in the centre, Harry Cornick turned his man and unleashed a low shot that made Day produce a magnificent finger-tip save to stop it nestling in the bottom corner.

The writing was on the wall for County at this point and the Hatters didn’t need another opportunity to make it two.

After Mickey Demetriou had uncharacteristically slipped in the area, James Collins made his way to the by-line with ease and unselfishly played it across for Danny Hylton to backheel home on 22 minutes.

The Exiles started to regain the ascendency after falling further behind, but following a lively spell, the referee pointed to the spot at the other end after Ben Tozer was adjudged to have felled Glen Rea in the area on 36 minutes.

Hylton coolly dispatched the penalty down the middle to treble the lead, as Luton made sure that the Exiles’ glimmer of hope was truly extinguished.

The Hatters may have even made it four with two minutes of the first-half remaining, as Jack Stacey rattled the post with a thunderous drive, before Rea headed just wide from a corner.

Those chances brought a difficult first-half proceedings to a close for the Exiles. But just as the side have shown since Mike Flynn took over, the never-say-die attitude was in full-show again in the second-half as the Exiles made the hosts work for their three points.

An inviting delivery from Robbie Willmott was flicked on by Frank Nouble into Joss Labadie’s path, with the Exiles captain rifling a strike through Marek Stech’s legs to give the side some hope on 55 minutes.

And the Exiles could have further reduced the lead just 60 seconds later, only to see Demetriou’s shot clip the far-post on the way out, as you could really sense that the momentum was really changing inside Kenilworth Road.

County continued to press the home side throughout the remainder of the second-half, the indication of four additional minutes added time at the end of the game clearly giving them the license to further push forward, but the Luton rear-guard held firm to secure a deserved victory.

The Exiles could be encouraged by their second-half efforts at Kenilworth Road, although Luton’s ruthless streak in the first-half saw them suffer defeat in Bedfordshire.

Mike Flynn said of the defeat: “Second half, we got a goal, got some pride back, didn’t give up and if Mickey’s chance would have gone in when he just screwed it past the post then it could have been a very interesting last 20 minutes. But listen, the best team won today and in that first 45 minutes I have to give them credit because I thought they were excellent.”

Luton Town manager Nathan Jones added: “I’m thoroughly delighted with the result because I thought the performance, especially first-half, was excellent. Newport put us under pressure for 15 minutes after they scored but we dealt with that and defended really well.”

 

Officials

Referee: Craig Hicks

Assistant Referee 1: Justin Amey

Assistant Referee 2: Mark Griffiths

Fourth Official: Steven Plane

Hicks is currently embarking on just his first season as a Football League referee having been promoted from the National League at the end of last season.

He was fourth official for Norwich City’s 0-0 home draw with Nottingham Forest on 6th March, meaning his last game as a referee came on 24th February as a Kevin Ellison inspired Morecambe side secured an emphatic 4-2 victory at promotion chasing Wycombe Wanderers.

Only the one yellow card was produced in that game at Adams Park, taking his season tally to 107 yellow cards and four red cards from 31 matches. Seven penalties have been awarded by Hicks so far this season.

In his last season as a National League referee, Hicks refereed 27 matches, including one of the play-off semi-final legs between Aldershot and Tranmere Rovers. He gave out four or more yellow cards on seven occasions, with a total of 70 yellow cards and six red cards for the campaign.

 

County Connection

Hicks has refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on two previous occasions, although this will be his first at Rodney Parade.

The Exiles have a relatively good record in matches refereed by Hicks, following one win and one defeat from the two games, both of which came earlier this season.

The first game came on 26th September 2017 as a stunning pair of Mickey Demetriou headers saw County to a 2-1 away victory at Crawley Town.

A header from Mark Connolly actually put Crawley ahead in the contest, only for the Exiles to regain their place in the play-offs with a come-from-behind victory.

Five yellow cards were given out in this fixture - Dan Butler, Joss Labadie and Ben Tozer all given a caution from a County perspective.

The other game was the Notts County away tie on 28th October 2017.

A double from Nottingham Forest loanee Jorge Grant and another from Shola Ameobi took the Magpies to the summit of League 2 with a comprehensive 3-0 home victory, as the Exiles were made to pay for Dan Butler’s 34th minute red card.

Yellow cards were also brandished to Frank Nouble and Mickey Demetriou during this fixture.  

 

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

Lincoln City vs Grimsby Town (1pm)

Notts County vs Mansfield Town (1pm)

Accrington Stanley vs Forest Green Rovers

Barnet vs Wycombe Wanderers

Cambridge United vs Swindon Town

Carlisle United vs Crawley Town

Cheltenham Town vs Chesterfield

Colchester United vs Yeovil Town

Crewe Alexandra vs Coventry City

Morecambe vs Exeter City

Port Vale vs Stevenage

 

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.

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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