Newport County AFC will be looking to maintain their play-off hopes by securing all three points against League Two champions Lincoln City on Saturday. The Exiles know three victories from three will be enough for a place in the top seven, but will face the toughest home test of the season against a side who have only lost one league game in 2019.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…
Last five results in League Two
Lincoln City have been relentless since the turn of the year into 2019 to ensure party time at Sincil Bank on Easter Monday as they secured themselves their first Football League title since 1976.
Such is the perfection demanded by manager Danny Cowley, the Imps will probably still be frustrated by only picking up six points from the last 15 available, starting with Neal Eardley having to rescue a point against strugglers Macclesfield Town on 30th March.
The Imps showed their promotion credentials when they controlled proceedings from start to finish in a 2-0 away victory at automatic promotion chasing MK Dons. A record Imps EFL away following of 5,556 travelled to Buckinghamshire and saw John Akinde and Bruno Andrade leave the side on the cusps of promotion.
A spot in League One next season has been secured as has the League Two title despite the Imps going winless in three successive fixtures for only the third time this season.
Cheltenham Town played the role of pantomime villains when they took a point from Sincil Bank on 13th April, before Carlisle United inflicted their first defeat in 20 league matches and halted the title parade for three days with a 1-0 victory.
Nothing was going to stop the Imps in the end, however, and the title was finally confirmed on Monday with a stalemate at home to Tranmere Rovers. No one can deny they deserve it; Lincoln have been by far the most consistent team this season and they’ll be looking to conclude the season by breaking the 90-point mark.
Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley should have virtually a fully-fit squad to choose from as he brings his League Two champions to Rodney Parade on Saturday.
Winger Bruno Andrade hasn’t been fully fit for a while but has been having injections to get himself on the pitch and help the team. He may not be risked, however, with the title secured.
Cowley’s post-match thoughts on Monday evening were understandably occupied with title talk instead of injuries, but he shouldn’t be missing anyone else for the trip to South Wales.
Lincoln City team vs Tranmere Rovers (4-4-2): Gilks, Eardley, Bolger, Bostwick, Toffolo, Rowe, O’Connor (Pett 78’), O’Hara, Andrade (Anderson 67’), Rhead (C) (McCartan 81’), Akinde
One to Watch – Danny Rowe
January transfer windows can often make or break a season and Danny Rowe has been nothing short of a revelation since his arrival at Sincil Bank midway through this campaign.
It takes a player of top talent to nudge fellow attacking midfielder Shay McCartan out of the team but the Ipswich Town loanee has managed to do that alongside chipping in with four goals. He netted twice at Yeovil plus against Bury FC and Oldham Athletic.
He also spent time on loan at the Imps last season, adding another two goals, meaning he heads to Rodney Parade on six goals from 31 appearances across the two spells.
A player well travelled in the English system – playing as high as the Championship – Rowe started in the youth ranks at Bolton Wanderers before moving to Stockport County and making his professional debut there in April 2009.
He’s also spent time at Northwich Victoria, Barrow and Macclesfield Town but will have a decision to make in the summer regarding his future – as Ipswich and Lincoln will both be playing in League One next season and he may have to choose between them.
Manager – Danny Cowley
The appointment of Danny Cowley as Lincoln City manager has been nothing short of sensational as the 40-year old continues to bring success to Sincil Bank.
Cowley has been in-charge for three seasons and has delivered a trophy in each campaign – the National League title in 2016/17, the CheckaTrade Trophy and a first ever visit to Wembley for Lincoln City last season, alongside securing League Two this campaign.
With multiple success comes a very strong win percentage and Cowley has a 54.1%-win ratio as manager at Lincoln City. He’s tasted success on 93 occasions from 172 matches, drawing 48 times and losing the other 31.
It’s been nothing short of a remarkable tenure for both Danny Cowley and his brother Nicky Cowley, having been part time PE teachers alongside previous managerial positions.
Three promotions in six seasons at Concord Rangers earnt them a move to Braintree Town in 2015/16 and their stock continued to rise. They almost got the club into the Football League but lost in the National League play-off semi-finals, alerting Lincoln who moved for them that summer.
Last meeting between the two sides
Lincoln City 3 – 2 Newport County AFC
Saturday 22nd December 2018
Newport County AFC put up a spirited fight in the reverse fixture against the League Two champions but they didn’t get much Christmas cheer on the road as they suffered a 3-2 defeat at Sincil Bank.
County found themselves 2-0 down inside seven minutes. Inability to clear a corner-kick saw John Akinde score with a deflected strike after four minutes, before Harry Anderson made it two with a stunning mazy run and finish.
You’d have thought Lincoln would have learnt from County’s failure to deal with early set pieces but panic inside the Imps penalty area allowed Padraig Amond to turn and halve the deficit on the stroke of half-time.
Akinde’s knock down midway through the second half allowed Tom Pett to restore the two-goal advantage, but the Exiles continued to capitalise on hesitancy from the home side as Amond chipped home his second.
There was to be no grandstand finish, however, as Lincoln dealt with several late crosses into the area to secure the three points just three days before Christmas.
Referee: Paul Marsden
Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Jones
Assistant Referee 2: Hristo Karaivanov
Fourth Official: Steven Plane
Paul Marsden is currently embarking on his first season as a Football League referee having taken charge of his first match in League Two on the opening day of this season as the Exiles lost 3-0 at Mansfield Town.
He has refereed 34 matches thus far in his debut Football League season, giving out 93 yellow cards and ten red cards, with Marsden most recently brandishing three yellow cards on 22nd April as Grimsby Town dented Carlisle United’s play-off hopes with a 1-0 home victory.
Four matches have passed this season without Marsden going to his pocket – all of which have come in cup competitions – including Aldershot’s draw with Bradford City in the First Round of the Emirates FA Cup where the League One outfit prevailed on penalties in the replay.
His league high number of yellow cards brandished for a solitary fixture stands at nine, a figure he has awarded just once – as Bradford City secured themselves a comfortable 3-0 victory over Accrington Stanley.
That follows on from Marsden’s final season as a referee in the National League, where he brandished 74 yellow cards and eight red cards from 21 matches across the entirety of the campaign.
Marsden has only refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on one previous occasion in the Football League.
It came as the Exiles were beaten 3-0 at Mansfield Town on the opening day of this season. No County players were booked on 4th August 2018 as Otis Khan grabbed a double alongside Tyler Walker.
Marsden has refereed Saturday’s visitors Lincoln City on two previous occasions. Both fixtures came at Sincil Bank and the Imps took all three points twice – 1-0 against Crewe Alexandra on 6th October 2018 and 2-0 against Oldham Athletic on 12th March 2019.
Other League Two fixtures that day (All 3pm kick-offs)
Cambridge United vs Morecambe
Carlisle United vs Crawley Town
Cheltenham Town vs Swindon Town
Colchester United vs MK Dons
Crewe Alexandra vs Forest Green Rovers
Exeter City vs Oldham Athletic
Mansfield Town vs Stevenage
Northampton Town vs Yeovil Town
Notts County vs Grimsby Town
Port Vale vs Macclesfield Town
Tranmere Rovers vs Bury FC
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.