Newport County AFC will be looking to mark their return to Rodney Parade with all three points when they entertain Stevenage on Saturday. After three games on the road in three different competitions, County will be hoping to use home comforts to their advantage on matchday, while the visitors will be desperate for all three points in order to give themselves a lift ahead of the hectic Festive period.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…
How they’re getting on in League Two
It’s not exactly been the best of campaigns for Stevenage who currently only sit above the drop zone by virtue of goal difference – they do have a game in hand on bottom side Morecambe – after amassing just 15 points from their opening 19 games.
They are the lowest scorers in the entire division with 12, but they have managed to build a resolute defence in recent games meaning they haven’t been losing too many matches, they’ve just struggled to get all three points.
Still possessing numerous members of last season’s squad which only missed out on the play-offs by a point, that proves Stevenage are capable of going on a winning run and County can’t afford to underestimate their opponents at Rodney Parade this weekend.
Stevenage caretaker manager Mark Sampson should have virtually a fully fit squad to choose from on Saturday after a barrage of positive fitness news in the past ten days.
Captain Scott Cuthbert and Tyler Denton gave their manager some positive news by returning to start last weekend, while Kurtis Guthrie and Dean Parrett were fit enough for the bench so could be installed from the start this time around.
Stevenage team vs Crawley Town (3-5-2): Farman, Vancooten, Cuthbert, Stokes, List, Timlin, Digby (Parrett 65’), Lakin (Carter 84’), Denton, Cowley, Mackail-Smith (Guthrie 58’)
One to Watch – Paul Farman
Stevenage have found goals hard to come by in recent matches, scoring just twice in their last six League Two outings, but they’ve managed to somehow accrue seven points in that time thanks in part to four clean sheets from Paul Farman.
A very experienced shot stopper, Farman worked his way up the pyramid having started his career with Blyth Spartans, before spells at Washington and Gateshead.
He moved to Lincoln City in 2012 and was a big part of their recent success – Farman won the National League and the CheckaTrade Trophy during his spell at Sincil Bank, also featuring in their amazing run to the Quarter Finals of the Emirates FA Cup in the 2016/17 campaign.
The 30-year old made 242 appearances for the Imps before joining Stevenage at the start of the last campaign.
Caretaker Manager – Mark Sampson
Most well-known for his four-year spell in the charge of the England Women’s side, Welshman Mark Sampson is currently caretaker manager at Stevenage in what is his first job in the Football League.
Starting out in the coaching trade in 2003, the 37-year old began work at the FAW before moving on to become head of Swansea City’s centre of excellence, making the step up in 2008 to become manager at Taff’s Well then Bristol Academy in the Women’s Premier League.
Some impressive results – including reaching two FA Cup finals – saw Sampson appointed to the national team, where he led them to third place at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Sampson was appointed first-team coach at Stevenage at the beginning of the campaign, taking over temporarily following the dismissal of Dino Maamria – the Boro have won four of his seventeen matches in charge.
Meetings between the two sides in 2018/19
Both sides secured home victories against each other as the two play-off rivals asserted their dominance in front of their home supporters.
In the first fixture at Rodney Parade, County scored right at the start and at the death to secure a valuable 2-1 victory on October 13th. Matty Dolan crashed home a stunning volley on 46 seconds, Luther James Wildin equalised, only for Antoine Semenyo to smash a spectacular winner into the bottom corner deep into stoppage time.
In the reverse fixture, Stevenage started 2019 with aplomb thanks to a 1-0 victory on New Years Day. County couldn’t capitalise on the hosts going down to ten men after 39 minutes when Kurtis Guthrie was dismissed, ultimately going down to an Alex Revell header five minutes from time.
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Assistant Referee 1: John Flynn
Assistant Referee 2: Thomas Harty
Fourth Official: Darren Wilding
Christopher Sarginson is currently embarking on his 12th full season as a Football League referee having first taken charge of a League Two fixture on 16th August 2008 as Rotherham United secured a comprehensive 3-1 away victory at Morecambe.
He has presided over 18 games thus far this campaign, brandishing 45 yellow cards, last taking charge of a fixture on Tuesday night as Coventry City secured Emirates FA Cup progression away at Ipswich Town.
Those statistics follow on from refereeing 44 games last year, a season in which Sarginson awarded 138 yellow cards and eight red cards throughout the entirety of the 2018/19 campaign.
Sarginson has refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on eleven previous occasions in League Two and the Emirates FA Cup. The Exiles will be desperate to improve upon their prior record, having won only twice, drawn five times and lost the other four of the previous fixtures.
He presided over two County fixtures last season. Scot Bennett and Mark Harris were booked in the 1-1 draw with Exeter City on August 18th 2018, while no-one saw a card brandished in their direction as County suffered stoppage time heartbreak at Carlisle on November 3rd.
County managed to accrue four points from two fixtures overseen by Sarginson in 2017/18. This time it was stoppage time ecstasy as County won at Cambridge United on December 16th 2017, Ben White, Joss Labadie and Frank Nouble all booked, while Dan Butler saw yellow in the six-goal thriller with Forest Green Rovers on March 6th 2018.
Stoppage time goals seem to be a regular occurrence and the same was true about Sarginson’s solitary County fixture in 2016/17. This time Janaai Gordon – who also got booked – salvaged a draw at Cheltenham Town in the dying seconds on 4th February 2017.
Into 2015/16 and a further two fixtures were refereed by Sarginson. Alex Rodman and Jazzi Barnum-Bobb were cautioned in the 2-2 draw at Accrington Stanley on November 14th, while Mark Byrne was the offender as County lost at Northampton Town on March 25th.
The 2014/15 campaign saw a defeat and a victory. County edged out Northampton Town on September 13th but were beaten at Luton Town in the Emirates FA Cup on November 8th, Lee Minshull and Chris Zebroski were given yellow cards.
That just leaves County’s Football League return of 2013/14. Again it was two fixtures refereed by Sarginson – Tom Naylor and Harry Worley booked in the defeat against Morecambe on September 14th, while Lee Minshull, Adam Chapman, Aaron Amadi-Holloway and Chris Zebroski saw yellow in the draw with Bury FC on March 25th.
Other League Two fixtures that afternoon (All 3pm kick-offs)
Carlisle United vs Grimsby Town
Cheltenham Town vs Cambridge United
Crawley Town vs Port Vale
Crewe Alexandra vs Mansfield Town
Leyton Orient vs Bradford City
Northampton Town vs Forest Green Rovers
Plymouth Argyle vs Morecambe
Salford City vs Exeter City
Scunthorpe United vs Colchester United
Swindon Town vs Oldham Athletic
Walsall vs Macclesfield 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.