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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Exiles head to Derbyshire for the rearranged fixture with Chesterfield

1 May 2018

Newport County AFC will be looking to set a record points tally in a season since returning to the Football League when they travel to already relegated Chesterfield on Tuesday night. The Exiles will also be hoping to build on the two home victories over Accrington Stanley and Cambridge United in the past week, while Chesterfield will be looking to end the campaign in a positive manner ahead of playing non-league football next season.

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

 

 Last six league matches

Chesterfield's rotten run of form lately has recently seen the Spireites relegated for the second successive season. They have only picked up one point from their last six league matches, so will be hoping to end the season in style ahead of attempting to secure an immediate return to the Football League next season.

Interestingly, that run starts with the first game after the original game between Chesterfield and County was postponed on Easter Monday.

And the game couldn’t really have gone any worse on 7th April as fellow relegation strugglers Grimsby Town secured their first win in 21 matches – and the first of the Michael Jolley era – following a 1-0 success at Blundell Park.

Ex-Exile Mitch Rose kept his composure to strike a penalty into the net with just two minutes remaining, a result which really put some distance between the two sides in the battle for League 2 survival.

In their next match, Chesterfield did show an example of the steel and vigour required to stave off that potential relegation when coming from behind to steal a point at fellow strugglers Morecambe.

A goal from Garry Thompson and a fine finish from in-form striker Callum Lang seemingly put the Shrimpers in cruise control at the Globe Arena, only for the Spireites to mount a stunning comeback in the second-half of the contest.

Kristian Dennis halved the deficit with his 19th goal of the campaign, while a late leveller from Wigan Athletic loanee and ex-Man Utd player Andy Kellett gave the side some hope that they could replicate County and pull off a Great Escape of their own.

But the Spireites weren’t able to push on from that result when they returned home to the Proact Stadium, as Mansfield Town boosted their chances of a late push into the play-offs with a 1-0 victory.

Defender Malvind Benning struck in the second-half to take all three points from the derby, although their play-off hopes have since dwindled, with it looking like they will be unable to force their way into the top-seven on the final day of the season.

And Chesterfield’s winless run continued as they were edged out at another play-off chasing side following a 2-1 defeat to Exeter City.

Jayden Stockley continued his rich vein of form when opening the scoring midway through the first-half, while it got a lot worse for Chesterfield as Alex Whitmore diverted a Hiram Boateng cross into his own net.

Kellett did get a late consolation for the Spireites with six minutes remaining, although that wasn’t enough to spark a late comeback as it left them staring relegation straight in the face.

And that relegation was all but confirmed when they suffered a 4-1 defeat at Forest Green Rovers in their next match.

Spireites striker Dennis struck from the penalty spot to cancel out an early effort from Scott Laird, but that was as good as it got for Chesterfield as a rampant Rovers side confirmed the win late on.

Christian Doidge scored with 12 minutes remaining to put the Nailsworth outfit back in-front, while the added gloss was put on to the victory when Doidge and Dayle Grubb both scored in added time.

A point for Morecambe in the midweek before their next match saw Chesterfield’s relegation confirmed mathematically, with the club dismissing Jack Lester and appointing Ian Evatt in a caretaker capacity until the end of the current campaign.

And despite scoring first, Evatt was unable to start off his tenure with a win as Wycombe Wanderers confirmed their promotion to the third tier with a 2-1 away victory at the Proact Stadium.

Bradley Barry’s shot was diverted into the net by Michael Harriman to give Chesterfield the lead, although they couldn’t hold onto that advantage until half-time as Nathan Tyson scored in first-half stoppage time.

Dominic Gape’s first goal of the season condemned Chesterfield to their 27th defeat of the season, while the defeat also saw the Spireites confirmed as definitely finishing bottom of the League 2 table at the end of the campaign, regardless of how they get on in their remaining two fixtures.  

 

Team-News

 

The Spireites have a couple of injury headaches to contend with ahead of Newport County AFC’s visit to the Proact Stadium on Tuesday – a match which marks the first home game since defender Ian Evatt was appointed as caretaker manager.

Giles Coke is a definite absentee having suffered an achilles tendon injury earlier in the campaign, although it is hoped that the midfielder will be able to make a return for the club’s final match of the season at Barnet.

Fellow midfielder Jordan Sinnott, who has not featured since November due to an ankle injury, has returned to training but remains an injury doubt, while Evatt must decide whether to start himself for the match having featured in two of the previous four encounters for the Spireites.

Sam Hird (Hamstring), Gozie Ugwu (Quad Tear) and Dylan Mottley-Henry are also expected to be ruled out of the fixture.

Ahead of Evatt’s first match in charge of the Spireites against Wycombe Wanderers last weekend, the caretaker manager made four changes to the previous starting eleven as he tried to implement his own brand of football on proceedings.

Evatt said post-match: “We’ve only had two or three days at playing how I want to play and at times it worked, but it’s been a disaster of a season and we’re trying to make the most of it.

“Jerome Binnom-Williams hasn’t played for a while and I thought he played the position I wanted him to play really well. To everyone else it would have looked like I went defensive, but Bradley Barry and Jerome were our attackers and we had three/four/five bodies in the box at times.”

Chesterfield team vs Wycombe Wanderers (4-4-2): Ramsdale, Talbot (C), Barry, Maguire, Binnom-Williams (Ugwu 71’), Reed, Smith, Dodds (Brown 87’), Nelson, Rowley (McCourt 77’), Dennis,

 

One to Watch – Louis Reed

 

A mainstay in the Chesterfield midfield this season, Louis Reed has been one of the shining lights in an otherwise poor season for the Spireites.

The 20-year old has missed just three matches in League 2 to date, making 46 appearances so far during his loan spell with the club from all competitions, and it is therefore expected that the midfielder will keep his place as part of a 4-4-2 formation on Tuesday night.

Reed has also chipped in with four goals at the club, the first of which came in a 1-1 draw with Colchester United on 12th September 2017.

Further strikes away from the Proact Stadium have also come against Yeovil Town and Port Vale, while Reed will await the visit of Newport County AFC with just one goal in Derbyshire – that coming in the defeat to Crawley Town.

Chesterfield are just the second club that Reed has turned out for in his short professional career to date, having joined on a season-loan long at the start of the season from parent club Sheffield United.

The Blades were in-fact the club that the 20-year old started his career with in the youth system, making his debut appearance for the first-team on 8th April 2014 during a narrow victory over Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United.

Aged just 16 years and 257 days at the time of the game, Reed became and still is the youngest player to appear in a competitive match for Sheffield United.

That was his only appearance of the 2013/14 season and it came from the bench, although he made his first start for the club in the first game of the following season as the Blades suffered a home defeat to Bristol City.

Reed was unable to score from 32 appearances across all competitions that season, and he couldn’t find the net in the 2015/16 season either having made a further 25 appearances.

For whatever reason, the 20-year old couldn’t hold down a place with the club last season as they secured promotion into the Championship, only making one competitive appearance against Leicester U23s in the CheckaTrade Trophy.

That saw Blades manager Chris Wilder allow the midfielder to join Chesterfield ahead of this campaign, and despite relegation for the Derbyshire outfit, Reed may have done enough to secure himself a place with the club next season.

Ahead of County’s trip to the Proact Stadium, all that sees Reed with statistics of 105 competitive appearances and four goals in the four years since turning professional.  

 

Caretaker Manager – Ian Evatt 

 

Following the confirmation that Chesterfield would be playing non-league football next season after back-to-back relegations, the club dismissed club legend Jack Lester from his role as manager and swiftly appointed Ian Evatt to the role in a caretaker capacity.

Evatt, arguably a club legend himself following two spells with the club across a combined total of seven years, had played 24 matches for the club this season before his appointment, although it is expected that the 36-year old will concentrate solely on the managerial position until the end of the campaign.

He has only been in charge for one game since his official unveiling on 23rd April, although that game didn’t go to plan despite taking the lead, as Wycombe Wanderers completed their own promotion to League 1 with a 2-1 away victory.

But despite that defeat, Evatt was pleased with the attitude shown by the players under his guidance.

He said post-match: “I was delighted. I thought the effort, desire and commitment was there. It’s just fine margins with football, they had a corner in the second-half and we switched off, but I thought the lads were different class.

“I thought we had the better chances and when you’re down the bottom you don’t get the rub of the green which you need. As I said to the lads, I was really pleased with their effort and commitment.”

Evatt also hopes that seeing Wycombe celebrate their promotion to the third tier will springboard the club into successful times of their own next season.

He added: “That picture has got to hurt. As a football player, that’s the biggest kick in the teeth that you can get when you’re having to watch another team who have got promoted celebrate on your pitch.

“I hope all the lads go home tonight and look in the mirror and realise how much it’s hurt.”

This is his first managerial position in any capacity, with the decision yet to be made as to whether the 36-year old will retire at the end of the season to try and pursue a career in management.

All this follows on from what is to date an 18-year playing career that has been spent across all four of the top divisions in the English football pyramid.

Alongside those two spells with Chesterfield, Evatt also spent seven years as a player at Blackpool, a club with which he led to their only season in the Premier League to date – that coming in 2010/11.

Evatt also cites Derby County, Northampton Town and Queens Park Rangers amongst the clubs during his playing career – which to date sees the defender with statistics of 594 appearances and 26 goals across all competitions.

 

Stadium – Proact Stadium

 

Chesterfield have resided at the Proact Stadium since its inception ahead of the 2010/11 season at a cost of £13 million. It follows on from their spell at the Saltergate Recreation Ground, which they had previously played at since 1871.

A friendly with Derby County was announced to unveil the new stadium on 24th July 2010, a game in which summer signing Craig Davies scored the first goal at the Proact. The score eventually ended up as a 5-4 victory for Derby.

The Spireites did, however, win their first competitive league encounter at the stadium. It came against Barnet on 7th August 2010, as goals from Dwayne Mattis and Jack Lester secured them a 2-1 victory against the Bees.

The current capacity of the stadium 10,504, all of which is seated, with the highest attendance being set on 18th March 2011 for a League 2 clash with local-rivals Rotherham United.

A total of 10,089 spectators were at the Proact to see a 5-0 victory for the home side, Lester popping up again to score a hat-trick in this game for the Spireites.

The Proact has also held a few England age-grade matches in recent years. On 8th February 2011, Germany U19s beat England U19s by a solitary goal, while Connor Wickham scored the winner on 10th September 2012 in a 1-0 triumph for the England U21s against Norway U21s.

On matchday, Exiles supporters will be housed in the Rubicon Print Stand (North), behind one of the goals. A total of 2,112 tickets will be provided, while should demand require it, then more away supporters could be housed in the Spencers Solicitors Community Stand (East.)

It will be just the second time in recent years that County have travelled to Derbyshire.

Max Porter’s first goal in 14 months salvaged a point for the Exiles on that occasion, having fallen behind to a sublime chipped effort from Jimmy Ryan. A total of 204 County fans travelled that day on 5th April 2014.

 

Last time out

 

Newport County AFC 4 – 1 Chesterfield

Saturday 26th August 2017

Ongoing pitch works meant Newport County AFC had to wait 112 days before returning to Rodney Parade after the dramatic ‘Great Escape’ but it looked like the Exiles had never been away as they secured a 4-1 victory against Chesterfield in the ‘Homecoming’ game.

It took no time at all for the Exiles to get accustomed to the new surface at Rodney Parade, controlling all the proceedings in the first quarter-of-an-hour.

Frank Nouble, Ben White and Mark O’Brien all came close to an opener in that time, finding an inspired Tommy Lee in their way, while all the Spireites could muster was a 25-yard effort from Kristian Dennis that was easy work for Joe Day.

Exiles captain Joss Labadie was next to be denied as the chances kept on falling the way of County, although Lee was again equal to the header and able to acrobatically tip it over the crossbar.

The warning signs were starting to show from the away side despite the clear County dominance on proceedings and it was the Spireites who took the lead after 36 minutes.

It was the product of some intricate and quick one-touch passing to split their way through the County defence – Andrew Kellett and Jordan Sinnott both involved as Scott Wiseman eventually shrugged off the challenge of Nouble before smashing a cross low into the area for the experienced Chris O’Grady to poke home.

The Exiles went in-search of an instant response before half-time, debutant Padraig Amond hitting the post with a header, although were left frustrated in their efforts as they had to settle for a goal deficit at half-time.

It would take something special to get past the Chesterfield defence and particularly Lee in the away goal, with the Exiles having their prayers answered in a stunning 13 minutes of football.

That spell started in the 55th minute with what could have won the goal of the season competition at Rodney Parade, Nouble sublimely picking up the ball before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top left corner from over 30 yards.

The game was turned completely on its head after 66 minutes, Nouble getting his second after superbly guiding a Dan Butler cross over the goalkeeper and into the net from just inside the penalty area.

And Nouble’s hat-trick was complete just two minutes later through another header, this one a little closer to the goal, although still another inch-perfect delivery from Butler on the left-hand side.

County then finally confirmed all three points with six minutes of the contest remaining, Nouble turning provider this time as Amond finished off a quick counter-attack with a volley into the bottom corner.

That superb second-half comeback left County unbeaten in League 2 throughout August and with eight points from their first four matches, knowing a victory at top-of-the-table Exeter City in the following game would send them above the Grecians and into top spot themselves.

Mike Flynn said of the emphatic victory: “I would have taken 4-1 all day long. I thought Joss Labadie was outstanding, Sean Rigg come on and did really well, Ben White was quality again, I could easily go through the whole team and substitutions if I’m honest. We went and matched Chesterfield up and took the game to them and that’s when the players showed how outstanding they were.”

Chesterfield manager Gary Caldwell added: “In terms of the result, I didn’t see it coming at half time and it’s nowhere near good enough. We make a silly mistake again in possession to give away the first goal and then the rest is unacceptable. We showed no character or desire at 1-1, the goals were too easy, the loss of the first goal affected us far too much, after that it was embarrassing, and we have to hold our hands up.”

 

Officials

Referee: Gavin Ward

Assistant Referee 1: Wayne Grunnill 

Assistant Referee 2: Duncan Street

Fourth Official: Dean Treleaven

Ward is currently in his 11th full season as a Football League referee having taken charge of his first League 2 fixture on 18th August 2007 when Hereford United secured an impressive 2-1 victory at Barnet.

He has refereed 42 games this season, of which the last came on 14th April as Southend United virtually condemned MK Dons to life in League 2 next season with a convincing 4-0 victory.

Five yellow cards were brandished on that occasion at Roots Hall, taking his season tally to 120 yellow cards and four red cards from the previous 42 matches. He has awarded 16 penalties this season.

That follows on from refereeing 41 matches during the 2016/17 campaign, a season in which Ward brandished 150 yellow cards and six red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.

 

County Connection

As was supposed to be the case on Easter Monday before the game was postponed, Gavin Ward will again be the man in the middle for Chesterfield vs Newport County AFC at the Proact Stadium.  

Ward has officiated a match involving Newport County AFC on seven previous occasions. Six of those games have come in the league, while one came in the Emirates FA Cup, with County securing three victories, a draw and two defeats from the games.

He has already overseen three County matches this season, the most recent of which came on 3rd February as the Exiles suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time since Mike Flynn took charge of the club.

Debutant Ben Stevenson and Tom Eastman gave Colchester United a 2-0 home victory at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, while Mark O’Brien and Paul Hayes were both booked on that occasion from a County perspective.

The second game came as County started their Emirates FA Cup run with a 2-1 home victory over League 1 outfit Walsall on 4th November.

A first-half goal from Frank Nouble and a second just 25 seconds after the restart from Shawn McCoulsky gave the Exiles victory in-front of the S4C cameras, while Amadou Bakayoko got a goal back for the Saddlers with 13 minutes remaining.

No yellow cards were given out on that afternoon by Ward.

The first of the County games officiated by Ward this season came in the 1-0 victory over Cheltenham Town when Padraig Amond scored the winning goal in tough conditions at Rodney Parade. Three yellow cards were given out on 12th September, Matty Dolan the offender for the Exiles.

Only one County game was refereed by Ward last season, which came in the 4-0 home defeat to Leyton Orient on 4th March 2017. Joss Labadie and Mark O’Brien were booked for the Exiles, a match which turned out to be Graham Westley’s last as manager.

Ward officiated County twice in the 2015/16 season. The Exiles were unbeaten in those two games, the first a 1-0 success over Mansfield Town. Six yellow cards were given out in all during that game on 27th February 2016 – goal scorer Scott Boden, Yan Klukowski and Mark Byrne all booked for County.

The second game came in the 1-1 draw with Oxford United, a match in which Medi Elito scored his only County goal when cancelling out an effort from Jordan Bowery. Danny Holmes and Tommy O’Sullivan were both cautioned in the only two bookings of the game on 19th April 2016.

That just leaves the first Newport County AFC match refereed by Ward. It came on 6th April 2015 when County lost 2-0 away at Exeter City. Ismail Yakubu was sent off in that game, with Mark Byrne also booked for County.

 

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 Tim Thraves 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 iFollow Exiles. 


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