Newport County AFC will be looking to return to winning ways in League Two when they host fellow play-off contenders Carlisle United on Saturday. The Exiles know the time is now to pick up three important points and stake their claim for a top-seven finish come May, whilst the Cumbrians also harbour play-off ambitions themselves and will be hoping to bounce back from defeat last time out.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…
Last five results in League Two
Results have seemingly run aground for Carlisle United in recent weeks and they slipped out of the play-off positions on Saturday for the first time in 2019.
Still coming to terms with the sudden departure of manager John Sheridan just after the turn of the year, Steven Pressley came into the hotseat and had an instant impact but certainly now knows what it takes in League Two.
The Cumbrians have picked up just five points from the last 15 available, starting with the solitary win in that sequence as a late strike from Connor Simpson gave them all three points away at Port Vale.
Jamie Devitt’s late equaliser to cancel out Nicky Law’s early opener gave Carlisle a credible point against in-form Exeter City, before two successive defeats threatened to curtail their play-off ambitions.
Defender Gary Miller scored but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 2-1 defeat at play-off aspirers Crewe Alexandra, before they were then edged out in a five-goal thriller by a resurgent MK Dons – Stefan Scougall and Hallam Hope scoring on that occasion at Brunton Park.
Hope scored again on Saturday, but Frankie Kent pegged them back late on in a 1-1 draw down at another team with play-off ambitions in Colchester United. It wasn’t enough to keep them inside the top-seven, however, meaning they will come to Rodney Parade in 8th – one point from the play-off positions.
Carlisle United manager Steven Pressley will have a couple of selection problems to contend with when bringing his side on the long trip down to South Wales.
Attacking talisman Jamie Devitt – who scored twice in the reverse fixture back in November – misses out through suspension following a straight red card against Crewe Alexandra earlier this month.
Midfielder Jason Kennedy might not be risked from the off having only returned last weekend as an unused substitute following an operation on a pelvic injury.
Winger Arthur Gnahoua (hamstring) and defender Macaulay Gillesphey (knee) continue to be long-term injury absentees.
Carlisle United team vs Colchester United (4-5-1): Collin, Grainger (C), Parkes, Gerrard, Liddle, Hope, O’Hare (Jones 79’), Etuhu, Slater, Scougall (McCarron 85’), Cullen (Thomas 69’)
One to Watch – Hallam Hope
Top scorer both in League Two and across all competitions, Cumbrians striker Hallam Hope has continued his fine form with the club since signing permanently at the start of last season.
He has eleven goals to his name already this season – two less than his debut campaign at Brunton Park – having found the target against Northampton Town, Blackburn Rovers in the Carabao Cup, Macclesfield Town, Cheltenham Town, MK Dons, twice against Mansfield Town and home and away against both Colchester United and Oldham Athletic.
The 24-year old also spent time with the Cumbrians on loan in 2015/16, netting five times, meaning his overall statistics with the club are 29 goals from 106 appearances.
This is the first club where the striker has been able to find form in-front of goal. He joined Everton’s academy from Manchester City but never made a single first-team appearance for the Toffees and instead went out on loan numerous times.
He had unfruitful spells at Northampton Town and Sheffield Wednesday but then had some success with Bury FC and signed there permanently in 2014. It wasn’t great from there, however, but Hope has since reinvigorated his career with the Cumbrians.
Manager – Steven Pressley
A relatively new appointment at Brunton Park, Steven Pressley has only been in charge since 16th January having filled the void following John Sheridan’s shock departure for National League strugglers Chesterfield.
The former County manager left the Cumbrians in a strong play-off position and Pressley was able to continue the good form of his predecessor with an opening two wins, although things have gone off the boil in recent weeks.
This is the 45-year old’s fifth permanent job of a coaching career that started whilst still playing – temporarily taking over as caretaker manager at Hearts in 2005 and being appointed to the backroom staff of the Scottish national team at the age of just 30.
Following his eventual retirement in 2009, Pressley was given the assistant manager’s job at former side Falkirk and then went on to manage them for over three years – his longest stint as a manager – and won the Scottish Challenge Cup in 2012.
After 138 matches with the Bairns, Pressley switched his allegiance to Coventry City but quickly became embroiled in the turbulence surrounding the club – this was the time the club went into administration, deducted points and forced to move home matches to Sixfields in Northampton.
He left after exactly 100 matches in charge, and had short spells as a scout at Southampton then manager at Fleetwood Town and Pafos in the Cypriot league before ending up at Carlisle United earlier this year.
Last meeting between the two sides
Carlisle United 3 – 2 Newport County AFC
Saturday 3rd November 2018
Newport County AFC suffered defeat in the most agonising of circumstances as they were edged out in stoppage time by Carlisle United during a five-goal thriller at Brunton Park.
It wasn’t exactly the best of starts for the Exiles in Cumbria either as they found themselves 2-0 down after 12 minutes following some desperate defending – Jamie Devitt getting them both, the first a calm finish from a George Glendon cross then a stunner from an acute angle.
Some top class saves from Joe Day kept County in the contest and they began an unlikely comeback on 38 minutes when Padraig Amond powered home a header from a Robbie Willmott delivery – the fifth time the duo had combined for a goal.
It looked like the Exiles were going to salvage a point with four minutes remaining when Dan Butler instinctively reacted well to a stunning save from Adam Collin, smashing a volley into the roof of the net to bring them level.
But football can be a cruel game at times and Carlisle United talisman Danny Grainger ensured it would be a long trip home to South Wales for County when he fired a thunderbolt into the top-corner from 25 yards in the dying seconds.
Referee: Ross Joyce
Assistant Referee 1: Christopher Husband
Assistant Referee 2: Craig Taylor
Fourth Official: Steven Plane
Joyce is currently undergoing his fourth full season as a Football League referee having first officiated a match in League Two on 15th August 2015 as Northampton Town cruised to a comfortable home victory against Exeter City.
He has refereed 35 games thus far this season, giving out 125 yellow cards and three red cards, although he didn’t brandish a single card on the opening day of the season as Barnsley smashed Oxford United 4-0.
That game at Oakwell is one of just two games where Joyce hasn’t had to go to his pocket – the other again coming in League One on 27th November as Charlton Athletic secured a narrow away victory at Burton Albion.
His record number of yellow cards awarded for a solitary fixtures this season stands at eight, a figure he has only given out once, as Mansfield Town won away at Lincoln City in the CheckaTrade Trophy on 4th September. There was also a red card for Lincoln’s Michael O’Connor.
That follows on from refereeing a total of 41 games during the 2017/18 campaign, a season in which Joyce brandished 150 yellow cards and two red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.
Joyce has refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on three previous occasions across League Two, the Conference and the Carabao Cup. Unfortunately, the Exiles don’t have the best of records from those prior contests – scoring just twice and conceding nine – so will be hoping to change that at Rodney Parade.
Only one County game was presided over by Joyce last season and it came on 22nd August 2017 as the Exiles suffered a heavy 5-1 defeat at Championship outfit Leeds United in the Carabao Cup. Nine players were booked in total – Mark O’Brien, Matty Dolan, Joss Labadie and Joe Quigley the offenders for County.
The sole occasion in which Joyce has previously refereed County in the Football League came on 25th February 2017 as the Exiles fell to a 2-1 defeat at Mansfield Town. Janaai Gordon was sent off for a second bookable offence, whilst goal scorer Ryan Bird and Mitch Rose all received cautions.
That just leaves the first time Joyce ever presided over the Exiles, but it was another defeat, this time 2-0 at Lincoln City on 24th March 2012. Max Porter, Lee Minshull, Ramone Rose and Paul Rodgers all saw yellows brandished in their direction.
Other League Two fixtures that day (All 3pm kick-offs)
Bury FC vs Macclesfield Town
Crewe Alexandra vs Northampton Town
Exeter City vs Tranmere Rovers
Forest Green Rovers vs Lincoln City
Grimsby Town vs Cambridge United
Mansfield Town vs Cheltenham Town
MK Dons vs Crawley Town
Notts County vs Port Vale
Oldham Athletic vs Stevenage
Swindon Town vs Colchester United
Yeovil Town vs Morecambe
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.