Newport County AFC will be looking for their first three-point haul on opening day since 2013 when they host Mansfield Town at Rodney Parade tomorrow. The Exiles will hope to improve upon a record of just one point from the last 15 available in League Two curtain raisers, while Mansfield head to South Wales intent on avenging play-off semi-final heartache back in May.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…
How Mansfield Town fared in pre-season
Mansfield Town had a mixed pre-season in terms of results but certainly played a high calibre of opposition as they look to go one step further this campaign and secure promotion into the third tier.
Like County, the Stags took their pre-season preparations into Europe and started their schedule off with a stoppage time defeat to Swansea City at their Portugal training base. Upon their return, wins soon followed against Bradford Park Avenue, Retford United and Alfreton Town.
Since then, the Stags played a further four home pre-season friendlies, starting against a Championship duo – losing against Blackburn Rovers before a draw with Hull City.
Pre-season concluded in a positive manner for Mansfield having secured victories over Nottingham Forest U23s and Rangers U23s.
Mansfield Town have a host of selection headaches to contend with as they prepare to make the familiar trip to South Wales for the League Two curtain raiser.
Up to five players are on the road to recovery but not quite ready to return, including goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik (knee), striker Craig Davies (ankle) and midfielder Willem Tomlinson (knee ligament).
Frontman Jordan Graham and defender Hayden White complete the list of Mansfield Town absentees for Saturday’s contest.
Mansfield Town team vs Rangers U23s (4-4-2): Logan, Preston, Pearce (c), Sweeney, Gordon, Bishop, MacDonald, Mellis, Benning, Cook, Maynard.
One to Watch – Nicky Maynard
The subject of one of the most talked about transfer singing announcements of the summer, Nicky Maynard has been brought into Mansfield Town with the objective of being the man to get the goals to fire them into the third tier.
Alongside fellow summer addition Andy Cook, Maynard will first have to set about replacing the 26 goals scored by Nottingham Forest loanee Tyler Walker last season, then getting a few more which might prove the difference in the quest for promotion.
A player that has commanded around £6.4 million in respective transfer dealings, Maynard knows how to help teams out of the fourth tier having scored 22 goals for Bury FC last season as they finished runners-up to Lincoln City.
He started his career at hometown team Crewe Alexandra, and he bagged 35 goals in 67 appearances, earning himself a move to Bristol City in 2008.
Premier League experience then came in the form of West Ham United and Cardiff City, while he has also plied his trade for Wigan Athletic, MK Dons and Aberdeen.
Manager – John Dempster
An unknown entity in the world of first-team management, John Dempster is the man entrusted with making sure Mansfield Town don’t suffer play-off heartache again and instead secure a safe navigation into the third tier.
Promoted from the role of academy manager upon David Flitcroft’s dismissal following their play-off exit, Dempster has been described in the press as a ‘winner’ by most of his former colleagues.
His record appears to back that up as well as the 36-year old won three EFL Youth Alliance titles in the four seasons he was academy manager with the Stags.
A centre back in his playing days, Dempster was part of the Mansfield team who got promoted to the Football League alongside County in 2012/13, while he also featured for sides including Oxford United and Crawley Town.
Last meeting between the two sides
League Two Play-Off Semi-Finals
Newport County AFC 1 – 1 Mansfield Town
Mansfield Town 0 – 0 Newport County AFC
(Newport win 5-3 on penalties)
Both sides will be looking to avenge some hurt from last season’s League Two play-offs with a fresh start this time around, although Mansfield will arguably be feeling the pain more at Rodney Parade having been ousted by the Exiles at the semi-final stage.
The two sides couldn’t be separated after 210 minutes of play-off semi-final football and it was always going to be a cruel way for one side to lose all hopes of promotion into League One.
Tyler Walker – one of the stars of Mansfield’s 2018/19 campaign – missed his spot kick after a smart save from Joe Day and all five County penalty takers held their nerve to ensure a nerve shredding passage to Wembley for the Exiles.
Both County and Mansfield had their periods of dominance across the two legs – the Stags starting the quickest at Rodney Parade and deservedly taking the lead through a breakaway goal by CJ Hamilton.
County wrestled back the ascendency as the contest progressed and headed to Nottinghamshire on level terms when Padraig Amond reacted quickly to seeing his penalty saved to tap home into an empty net.
Neither side could find the target at The One Call Stadium – County hitting the crossbar twice and Willem Atkinson had a shot cleared off the line by Regan Poole – leaving penalties to decide the destiny of the two sides.
Referee: James Adcock
Assistant Referee 1: Marvyn Amphlett
Assistant Referee 2: Ravel Cheosiaua
Fourth Official: Dale Wootton
Referee James Adcock will be taking charge of his first ever Newport County AFC match when he steps out onto the Rodney Parade pitch on Saturday against Mansfield Town.
A highly experienced man in the middle having officiated as high as the Championship, Adcock appears to be returning from a sabbatical, having only refereed one match last season – Oldham Athletic’s victory over Grimsby Town in March.
It doesn’t appear Adcock refereed a match in the 2017/18 campaign either, although reasons for this apparent sabbatical remain unclear.
His last full season therefore came in 2016/17 where he refereed right the way across the Football League, brandishing 88 yellow cards and two red cards from 28 matches.
Other League Two fixtures that day (All 3pm unless stated)
Salford City vs Stevenage (12:30pm kick-off – live on SKY Sports Football)
Bradford City vs Cambridge United
Carlisle United vs Crawley Town
Colchester United vs Port Vale
Crewe Alexandra vs Plymouth Argyle
Exeter City vs Macclesfield Town
Forest Green Rovers vs Oldham Athletic
Leyton Orient vs Cheltenham Town
Morecambe vs Grimsby Town
Northampton Town vs Walsall
Scunthorpe United vs Swindon Town
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.