Newport County AFC will look be looking for victory when they travel to high-flying Exeter City on Boxing Day.
The Exiles will also want revenge for a draw in the reverse league fixture and defeat in the Leasing.Com Trophy Group Stages against the Devon side, while Exeter will be hoping to be inspired from taking a point in their last fixture after they were 3-0 down early on.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…
How they’ve been getting on in League Two
An epitome of consistency, Exeter City currently reside in second place of the League Two table after a blistering start to the campaign which has seen them amass 40 points from the inaugural 22 matches.
Pundits have been waxing lyrical about league leaders Swindon Town recently with the Robins winning eight and drawing one of their last nine matches, but the fact Exeter are only three points behind shows how good they’ve been this campaign.
They have been on the end of some surprise results – none more so than a 4-0 defeat at Cambridge United – but they’ve won a lot of games by a solitary goal highlighting a certain amount of defensive resilience.
Exeter City manager Matt Taylor admitted last week that he’s having sleepless night regarding his team selection due to the intensity and high levels of performance that his players display in training.
Defender Dean Moxey – who was named captain on Saturday during his 300th Grecians appearance – didn’t have the momentous occasion he deserved after being forced off just before the half hour with injury.
Exeter City team vs Walsall (3-4-1-2): Maxted, Sweeney, Martin, Moxey (C) (Parkes 27’), Williams, Atangana, Collins (Seymour 83’), Sparkes, Law, Martin (Taylor 83’), Bowman
One to Watch – Ryan Bowman
After a mid-season dip in form where he didn’t score for eight consecutive matches, Grecians striker Ryan Bowman appears to have found his shooting boots again with four goals in his last five games, including the matchwinner at Salford City plus a double in Saturday’s draw with Walsall.
The 28-year old has scored nine goals from 27 appearances in all competitions this season for a club he joined last January, where he hit five in 18 in the second half of the last campaign following his transfer from Motherwell.
Bowman has also plied his trade with Carlisle United, Workington, Darlington, Hereford United, York City, Torquay United and Gateshead.
Manager – Matt Taylor
Another manager to turn down the advances of an unnamed Football League club earlier in the campaign, Exeter City boss Matt Taylor admitted his ambitions for the Grecians was the reason why he turned the vacancy down.
He’s guided his charges to second in the League Two table after the opening 22 fixtures having accrued 40 points and the Grecians were the last team to boast an unbeaten record before defeat to Grimsby Town in matchday 11.
Taking to the hotseat at the start of 2018/19, Taylor will welcome County to Devon with a 42.9%-win ratio as Exeter manager. He’s won 36 of his 84 matches in charge, drawing 25 and losing 23.
Stadium – St James Park
A stadium familiar to County supporters after numerous visits in recent seasons, there will be a slight difference this time around following a £3.5 million redevelopment at St James Park.
Following the completion of the works, which included building a new stand, the official capacity is now 8,696 and is split between a mixture of seating and terracing. Away supporters have seated options in the main stand or covered terracing behind one of the goals.
Last season, County’s visit to Devon coincided with the building works so there was a reduced capacity. A total of 332 away supporters made the trip for a 1-1 draw on August 18th.
Last meeting between the two sides
Newport County AFC 0 – 2 Exeter City
October 8th 2019 – Leasing.Com Trophy Group Stages
Ultimately, Newport County AFC and Exeter City both qualified from Leasing.Com Trophy Southern Group E but the Grecians finished top of the pile thanks in part to a comfortable victory at Rodney Parade.
Stand in captain Matt Jay scored from outside the penalty area in both halves to give Exeter all three points as Michael Flynn elected to give opportunities in the first team environment to several members of the academy.
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Assistant Referee 1: Robert Dabbs
Assistant Referee 2: Mark Derrien
Fourth Official: Ross Martin
Huxtable is currently embarking on his fourth season as a Football League referee having first taken charge of a League Two fixture on 13th August 2016 as Doncaster Rovers and Crawley Town played out a 1-1 draw at the Keepmoat Stadium.
He has refereed 18 matches thus far this campaign, brandishing 69 yellow cards and three red cards, last taking charge of a fixture on Saturday as Portsmouth maintained their unbeaten home league record with a 1-0 victory over Ipswich Town.
Those statistics follow on from refereeing 39 games last year, a season in which Huxtable awarded 128 yellow cards and seven red cards throughout the entirety of the 2018/19 campaign.
Huxtable has refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on twelve previous occasions across League Two, the Conference, the Emirates FA Cup and the CheckaTrade Trophy. The Exiles have a mixed bag of results from the previous matches officiated by Huxtable – following six wins, one draw and five defeats.
He presided over three matches last season and the Exiles won every single one of them. Two successes came in League Two as Andrew Crofts was booked in the 1-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra on August 14th before no County players were cautioned in the 4-2 win over Cambridge United on September 29th.
The final game last season was also the most recent as County secured their progression into the knockout stages of the CheckaTrade Trophy with a 2-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle. No County players were booked on November 13th 2018.
Huxtable also officiated three games in the 2017/18 campaign although the results weren’t as good. Mark O’Brien saw red and Joss Labadie was booked as County drew 0-0 with Lincoln on December 23rd 2017, before Tom Owen-Evans was given a yellow in defeats in the CheckaTrade Trophy against Forest Green Rovers (August 29th) and Swansea City U21s (October 10th).
Again it was three games in 2016/17. He was the referee on Michael Flynn’s inaugural home game during a 3-1 defeat to Blackpool on March 18th 2017, alongside taking charge of cup fixtures against Swansea City U21s (October 4th) and Alfreton Town (November 15th).
There’s no prizes for guessing the amount of games Huxtable took charge of in the 2012/13 season because again it’s three. In County’s triumphant promotion season, they amassed six points following victories against Macclesfield Town (April 11th) and Nuneaton Town (August 14th) plus a defeat against Woking (October 27th).
Other League Two fixtures that day (All 3pm kick-offs unless stated)
Leyton Orient vs Colchester United (1pm kick-off)
Carlisle United vs Bradford City
Cheltenham Town vs Plymouth Argyle
Crawley Town vs Northampton Town
Macclesfield Town vs Grimsby Town
Mansfield Town vs Port Vale
Morecambe vs Oldham Athletic
Salford City vs Crewe Alexandra
Scunthorpe United vs Walsall
Stevenage vs Forest Green Rovers
Swindon Town vs Cambridge United
Can’t make the match?
You can follow along on social media using @NewportCounty 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 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.