Newport County AFC will be looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the 2019/20 campaign when they head to Walsall FC on Tuesday night. The Exiles are looking to continue a club record unbeaten run in the Football League, while Walsall FC will be hoping to kickstart their season after a slow start so far.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter
How they’ve started the League Two campaign
It’s been somewhat of an indifferent start to the League Two campaign for Walsall FC who are looking to mastermind an immediate return to the third tier having accrued four points from the opening nine to sit 15th in the table.
The Saddlers started the season in fine form with victory over Northampton Town – a side Michael Flynn has stated will do very well this season – as James Clarke’s first half strike was enough for an impressive 1-0 away victory.
A battling 1-1 draw in their first home game of the campaign then followed against Forest Green Rovers – James Hardy cancelling out Joseph Mills’ penalty – before last Saturday saw a 1-0 defeat at Crewe Alexandra.
Walsall manager Darrell Clarke is expected to make some changes to his Saddlers side on Tuesday night when he welcomes the Exiles to the Banks’s Stadium.
He has been tinkering with his squad to find his best team since the start of the season, making four alterations on Saturday, but after a defeat he may choose to mix things up again.
Only defender Kory Roberts is expected to be unavailable.
Walsall team vs Crewe Alexandra (3-5-2): L.Roberts, Clarke (C), Scarr, Jules, Norman (McDonald 59’), Sinclair, Kinsella, Kiersey (Hardy 59’), Pring, Lavery, Gordon (Adebayo 69’)
One to Watch – Elijah Adebayo
A summer singing after a release by Championship outfit Fulham FC, Elijah Adebayo boosts the Walsall squad with extensive League Two experience having had several loan spells in the division while with the Cottagers.
Unfortunate not to make a competitive appearance for Scott Parker’s side, the 21-year old first spent time away from the club at Slough Town then Bognor Regis Town, before spending the last two seasons in the Football League.
First, he scored twice for Cheltenham Town from seven appearances in 2017/18, before spending last season at Swindon Town then Stevenage, adding a further five goals from 32 appearances across the two spells.
He has featured in every Walsall game this season but is yet to score.
Manager – Darrell Clarke
A highly experienced manager despite only being 41-years of age, Darrell Clarke has already achieved four promotions in his managerial career which only started in 2010 when taking charge at Salisbury City.
He led the Whites from the Southern League to the Conference Premier with two play-off final victories in just three seasons, alerting the attention of League Two outfit Bristol Rovers who he joined in March 2014 with the objective to keep them in the Football League.
He couldn’t achieve that objective, however, as they were relegated on the final day of the campaign. But Rovers bounced back when sticking with Clarke and it worked wonders – two successive promotions sent them into League One for the 2016/17 campaign, where they still reside.
At the time of his dismissal from Rovers, Clarke was the fourth longest serving manager in the Football League, with his impressive CV meaning he wasn’t out of work for long when taking the hotseat at Walsall FC back in May.
Stadium – The Banks’s Stadium
Likely to be a new stadium to tick off the list for the vast majority of Newport County AFC supporters, the Exiles have played Walsall FC on numerous occasions in past history but never at the Banks’s Stadium, which opened in 1990.
A stadium County supporters see more than visit when travelling up to M6 to other away matches, the Banks’s Stadium is all seater and has a maximum capacity of 11,300 for the 2019/20 campaign.
On matchday, away supporters will be housed behind one of the goals, where up to 2,000 Exiles fans could be accommodated.
Last meeting between the two sides
Newport County AFC 2 – 1 Walsall FC
Emirates FA Cup First Round
Newport County AFC knocked higher division opposition out of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in 16 years with a confident 2-1 victory over League One Walsall at Rodney Parade.
Before the triumph, you’d have had to have gone back all the way to 29th October 2001 for the last time a Newport County AFC side eliminated a higher opposition from the competition.
County – then of the Southern League Premier Division – ousted Conference outfit Woking 3-1 in a Fourth Qualifying Round Replay at Newport Stadium.
There was something special about the 4th November 2017, however, and County rewrote the history books and began their epic cup journey of the 2017/18 campaign with victory over the Saddlers.
In-front of the S4C cameras, County were being heralded for one of the shocks of the First Round as Frank Nouble and Shawn McCoulsky scored in either half to secure the victory, despite a late finish from Amadou Bakayoko setting up a tense finale.
Referee: Darren Handley
Assistant Referee 1: Joe Simpson
Assistant Referee 2: Richard Morris
Fourth Official: Kevin Morris
Handley is currently embarking on his fifth full season as a Football League referee having taken charge of his first League Two fixture midway through the 2013/14 campaign when York City and Cheltenham Town drew 0-0 at Bootham Crescent.
He has only taken charge of one match thus far this campaign, that coming on the opening weekend as Grimsby Town scored twice late in the afternoon to secure a 2-0 away victory at Morecambe. Five yellow cards were brandished.
For an unknown reason, Handley didn’t officiate a single fixture last season, so his last full campaign came in 2017/18. His statistics read as 130 yellows and eight reds from 42 matches.
Handley has refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on eight previous occasions in the Conference Premier and League Two. The Exiles don’t exactly have the best records from these previous matches, having won twice, drawn on a further two occasions and lost the remaining four.
The last time Handley took charge of a County fixture came roughly eighteen months ago as Crewe Alexandra secured a 2-1 victory at Rodney Parade on 24th March 2018. No County players were booked.
In 2015/16, County suffered a further two defeats in matches officiated by Handley. Kevin Feely and Aaron Hayden were booked in a 3-0 defeat at Cambridge United on the opening day of that campaign, with Oli McBurnie and Matt Partridge booked on 12th December 2015 in a 4-3 defeat at Notts County.
The only other time Handley has refereed County in the Football League came on 20th September 2014 in a 0-0 draw at Shrewsbury Town. Ryan Jackson and Andy Sandell had yellows brandished in their direction, while Andrew Hughes saw red.
The final four fixtures all came in the Conference Premier. County drew 1-1 at Macclesfield Town and beat Lincoln City (4-2) and Nuneaton Town (2-1) in 2012/13, while they lost 2-1 at Tamworth on 21st February 2012.
Other League Two fixtures that evening (All 7:45pm kick offs)
Cambridge United vs Scunthorpe United
Cheltenham Town vs Carlisle United
Crawley Town vs Crewe Alexandra
Grimsby Town vs Colchester United
Macclesfield Town vs Morecambe
Mansfield Town vs Leyton Orient
Oldham Athletic vs Exeter City
Plymouth Argyle vs Salford City
Port Vale vs Forest Green Rovers
Stevenage vs Bradford City
Swindon Town vs Northampton 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 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 #iFollowExiles.