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PREVIEW | County looking to continue their momentum against MK Dons

10 February 2019

Newport County AFC will be looking to continue their recent imperious home form when they entertain MK Dons on Tuesday night. This is the final chance the Exiles players have to stamp their marker down for a place against Manchester City on Saturday, whilst the away side travel to Rodney Parade looking to get their play-off ambitions back on track.

Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter.

 

Last five results in League Two

MK Dons’ form in the opening few months of the season compared with since we’ve turned into 2019 really has been like chalk and cheese as they’ve gone from top of the table to outside the play-off positions in less than two months.

At the time this fixture was originally called off, 15th December, MK Dons had only lost two of their opening 21 fixtures but have now lost seven in the last ten and are struggling to score the same volume of goals since Cardiff City recalled ex-Exile Rhys Healey.

In their last five matches, the Buckinghamshire outfit have only picked up three points, and that run starts with successive 1-0 defeats after Charlie Kirk scored the winner for Crewe Alexandra and Wes Thomas got the decisive intervention for Grimsby Town.

They temporarily halted their run of defeats in a 2-1 victory over Oldham Athletic at Stadium MK thanks to a pair of penalties either side of half-time from Chuks Aneke and Kieran Agard. Tom Hamer got one back for the Latics late on, but the Buckinghamshire outfit held on for a much needed three points.

Since then, however, its been another two defeats, starting with a 3-1 reverse at manager Paul Tisdale’s former side Exeter City. It was the first time he had returned to Devon since leaving for MK Dons, but it was an afternoon to forget as Joe Walsh’s effort couldn’t hide a double from Nicky Law and another from Jake Taylor.

On Saturday, MK Dons’ sorry slump in form continued with defeat in a five-goal thriller at home to Swindon Town. Robins defender Michael Doughty scored twice alongside a stunning strike from Keshi Anderson – with the Buckinghamshire outfit getting their goals from Jake Hesketh and Kieran Agard.

The defeat meant MK Dons slipped out of the top-seven in League Two for the first time since 29th September.

  

Team-News

MK Dons manager Paul Tisdale may have to cope with a host of defensive absentees when he travels to Rodney Parade looking to bounce back into the play-offs.

Full-back Callum Brittain is expected to be missing through a knee injury and also tonsillitis, whilst centre-back Jordan Moore-Taylor also has a problem to his knee.

Another defender in George Williams remains out with a hamstring injury that forced him to limp off in the tie against Bury early last month.

MK Dons team vs Swindon Town (3-5-2): Nicholls, Martin, Walsh, Cargill, Watson, Gilbey, Hesketh (Walker 79’), Houghton (Wheeler 59’), Lewington (C), Aneke, Agard  

 

One to Watch – Kieran Agard

The current MK Dons top scorer for the campaign, Kieran Agard’s form has dropped slightly alongside the team’s, but he’s netted in the last two games to make it 15 goals from 30 appearances.

He scored in six out of seven games in November / early December and hasn’t gone four games without a goal all season in a stunning campaign for the 29-year old.

13 of his goals have come in League Two – against Exeter City, Yeovil Town, Port Vale, Northampton Town, Crawley Town, Macclesfield Town, Stevenage, Carlisle United, Swindon Town, home and away against Oldham Athletic and two in the home win over Cambridge United.

This is already Agard’s most impressive season as an MK Dons player – he hit 14 and eight goals in the first two campaigns respectively – meaning it’s 37 from 125 appearances in all competitions for the Buckinghamshire outfit.

Before this current spell with MK Dons, Agard racked up appearances in all four of the top divisions, although it was actually only one game in the Premier League whilst with Everton when coming on as a late substitute against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

He’s also plied his trade for Peterborough United, Kilmarnock, Yeovil Town, Rotherham United and Bristol City in a career which has almost produced 100 goals across all competitions.

   

Manager – Paul Tisdale

One of the most experienced managers at this level, Paul Tisdale has already got the club accustomed to his excellent style of play although the results have run aground for the Buckinghamshire outfit of late.

Tisdale’s side have slipped out of the play-off places but would go back into them with a result at Rodney Parade. That means they’re currently not living up to the pre-season betting but there’s still a lot of time to get back into the top-seven – and there are few with more know-how of League Two than Tisdale.   

Taking to the hotseat over the summer, Tisdale had an unbelievable record before Christmas but that has decreased a little leaving his win percentage as 40.5%. MK Dons have won 15 of his 37 matches in charge, drawing nine and losing on 13 occasions.  

This is just the third spell of his managerial career having spent a couple of seasons at Team Bath from 2000, the side affiliated to the University of Bath. Tisdale led the club to four promotions, alongside the First Round of the Emirates FA Cup in 2002/03 – becoming the first university side since 1881 to enter the competition.

His glittering success with the club alerted the attentions of Exeter City and Tisdale has to take enormous credit for his loyalty shown towards a club he managed for almost 12 years.

Starting in the Conference, Tisdale secured the Grecians back-to-back promotions into League One, there was a relegation back to the fourth-tier, and he’s lost three play-off finals at various points of the tenure.

In early May 2018 and following Arsene Wenger’s departure from Arsenal, Tisdale became the longest serving manager in the Football League – but he only kept that tag for a few weeks before joining MK Dons on 6th June 2018.

 

Previous Meeting

Newport County AFC have only met MK Dons on one previous occasion.

It came in the first-round of the Carabao Cup and remains the first of only two occasions that the Exiles have played at home in the competition since promotion back into the Football League in 2013.

The game itself came on 9th August 2016 and it couldn’t have started any better for County as Marlon Jackson completed a stunning passing move to put the Exiles a goal up at half-time.

Mark Randall’s penalty early in the second-half put County in cruise control but things appeared to unravel from that moment for Warren Feeney’s side.

Dean Bowditch dispatched his spot-kick to reduce the deficit on 63 minutes, before Ben Tilney equalised with a stunning long-range effort.

That set the stage for Bowditch to break County hearts when converting a cross at the beginning of stoppage time – that comeback earning the Dons a trip to Reading in the second-round, a tie they lost on penalties following a 2-2 draw.

Watch the match highlights.

 

Officials

Referee: Kevin Johnson

Assistant Referee 1: Marvyn Amphlett

Assistant Referee 2: Ian Smedley

Fourth Official: Scott Jackson

Johnson is currently embarking on his fifth season as a Football League referee having first taken charge of a League Two fixture on 9th August 2014 as Tranmere Rovers and York City played out a 1-1 draw at Prenton Park.

He has refereed 31 games thus far this campaign, giving out 90 yellow cards and three red cards, including three on the opening day of the season as Bradford City secured a narrow away victory at Shrewsbury Town.

Five games have passed this season without Johnson going to his pocket, three of which came in the CheckaTrade Trophy alongside two fixtures in League One – Burton Albion’s away victory at Walsall on 3rd November and Blackpool’s away success at Portsmouth 12th January.

His league high total of yellow cards for a single fixture is seven, a figure he has given out three times this campaign – Lincoln City’s away victory at Exeter City on 1st September, Bury FC’s away triumph over Swindon Town on 15th September and Oxford’s draw with Barnsley on 29th January.

That follows on from refereeing a total of 37 games during the 2017/18 campaign, a season in which Johnson brandished 111 yellow cards and nine red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.

 

County Connection

Kevin Johnson has officiated a match involving Newport County AFC on 13 previous occasions across the Conference, League Two, the Emirates FA Cup and the CheckaTrade Trophy. The Exiles have relative success in those previous matches – winning seven, drawing four and losing just two.

He has already presided over two County games this season, the last of which came on 11th December 2018 as the Exiles smashed Welsh-rivals Wrexham AFC 4-0 in the Emirates FA Cup. Luke Young received a red card that day, whilst Dan Butler and David Pipe were shown yellows for County.

The other game this season came on 25th September as the Exiles secured an impressive 3-0 home success over Chelsea U21s in the CheckaTrade Trophy. No bookings.

In addition to being fourth official for the heroic 2-1 victory over Leeds United, Johnson refereed County on two occasions last season including the 1-1 draw at home to Morecambe on 23rd January 2018. Ben Tozer scored, while Scot Bennett and Robbie Willmott received cautions.

The other game came in the Emirates FA Cup as the Exiles saw off Cambridge United 2-0 on 3rd December 2017. Joss Labadie scored both to put County into the Third Round, while Frank Nouble was booked.

Johnson also refereed two County matches in the 2016/17 campaign, starting with the 2-0 defeat to Stevenage at Rodney Parade on 6th December 2016. Scot Bennett was the only County player booked alongside a further three bookings for the visitors.

Ryan Bird, Aaron Williams and Dan Butler all scored in the other game refereed by Johnson in 2016/17, with Padraig Amond netting a late consolation as Hartlepool United were defeated 3-1 in South Wales on 28th January 2017. No bookings.

During the 2014/15 season, County drew both matches presided over by Johnson, starting as the Exiles picked up no bookings in the 1-1 draw with Burton Albion on 23rd August 2014. Mark Byrne was cautioned during the 2-2 draw with Hartlepool United on 3rd April 2015.

In the Conference promotion season of 2012/13, Johnson refereed a further three County fixtures. AFC Telford United received two red cards on 25th September 2012 during a 4-2 victory for the Exiles. No bookings for County players.

The other two games that season came at Rodney Parade. Six yellow cards were brandished during the 2-2 draw with Tamworth on 9th February 2013, but none were awarded in the victory over Alfreton Town on 21st April 2013.

The 2011/12 campaign saw a further game presided over by Johnson. County saw two red cards that day, as Ismail Yakubu and Gary Warren were both given their marching orders during the 3-1 defeat to Kidderminster Harriers on 29th August 2011.

That just leaves the first ever County game to be refereed by Johnson and it came back in the 2010/11 season. County beat Mansfield Town 1-0 on 18th September 2010 despite having Paul Bignot dismissed.

 

Other League Two fixtures that day (All 7:45pm kick-offs)

Crewe Alexandra vs Carlisle United

Oldham Athletic vs Yeovil Town

Swindon Town vs Forest Green Rovers

 

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 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.


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