Newport County AFC will be looking to continue closing the gap on the League Two play-offs when they travel to MK Dons on Saturday. Victory at Notts County on Tuesday night has given the Exiles renewed confidence in a top-seven finish come May, but the Buckinghamshire home side also harbour ambitions of promotion themselves and will be desperate for the three points when trying to chase down Bury FC in third place.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter.
What’s happened since the meeting at Rodney Parade
Due to a postponement for a waterlogged pitch just before Christmas, only 11 days separate the two meetings between Newport County AFC and MK Dons.
Since the first meeting at Rodney Parade, County have played twice and had a contrast of emotion after two 4-1 score lines.
The Exiles bravely exited the Emirates FA Cup at the hands of Premier League Champions Manchester City last Saturday, before they got their play-off push back on track with a commanding victory at basement boys Notts County.
MK Dons, meanwhile, have only played once since coming to South Wales and it came last Saturday when they were able to get their hopes of an automatic promotion spot back on track.
Conor McGrandles, Jake Hesketh and Kieran Agard all scored in a magnificent 3-2 away victory at fellow play-off hopefuls Carlisle United, arresting MK Dons’ poor recent form and getting them back on track.
It appears that MK Dons manager Paul Tisdale will have pretty much a fully-fit squad to choose from on Saturday with positive news on the injury front.
Only Jordan Moore-Taylor is out but even he’s not too far away from returning after a knee problem, so Tisdale should be able to tinker with his squad if he deems fit.
He made one change between the game’s against County then away at Carlisle United – and after victory at Brunton Park, he praised his players for how they can adapt their formation during matches.
MK Dons usually play with a three-at-the-back in a 3-4-2-1 formation but changed all that in Cumbria at half-time to more of a 4-4-2 to help them impose a greater foothold on proceedings.
MK Dons team vs Carlisle United (3-4-2-1): Moore, Walsh, Martin, Cargill (Aneke 45’), Brittain, McGrandles. Cisse, Lewington (C), Hesketh (Walker 88’), Gilbey, Agard (Wheeler 80’)
One to Watch – Chuks Aneke
Trailing fellow attacker Kieran Agard by just the one goal in the quest to be MK Dons top scorer for the 2018/19 campaign, Chuks Aneke’s tally of 15 is still right up there with the top marksmen in the division and he’s closing in on his best ever goalscoring campaign.
Scorer of the late matchwinner against the Exiles less than two weeks ago, Aneke doesn’t score in high numbers – only netting twice in one fixture this season – but that is arguably a strength as he scores in most matches and at crucial times.
This season, he’s not gone four appearances without a goal and directly accrued the side seven points – leaving his total tally at MK Dons as 29 goals from 80 appearances since joining on 2nd August 2016.
A player not afraid to travel, Aneke came through the youth ranks at Arsenal and was offered the potential chance to sign for Barcelona having impressed within the reserve side, but chose to pen his first professional contract at the Gunners in July 2010.
However, that perhaps wasn’t the smartest idea as he was restricted to just two minutes of action for the side having come off the bench in added time against Shrewsbury Town in the Carabao Cup – his only appearance – so he headed on loan to Stevenage, Preston North End and Crewe Alexandra.
He then joined Zulte Waregem in Belgium for two seasons, but he couldn’t find his best goal scoring form in a spell hampered with injury – four goals in 41 appearances – so he returned to England and signed for MK Dons.
Manager – Paul Tisdale
After a mid-season blip, Paul Tisdale appears to have gotten his MK Dons players raring to go again and two successive wins of late have taken them from outside of the play-offs to just two points from the automatic promotion spots.
Taking to the hotseat over the summer, Tisdale had an unbelievable record before Christmas but that has decreased a little since then leaving his win percentage as 43.6%. MK Dons have won 17 of his 39 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.
Stadium – Stadium MK
Another stadium for travelling supporters to tick off the list, Newport County AFC will be making their first ever trip to Buckinghamshire and Stadium MK on Saturday afternoon.
The newest and also the biggest stadium in League Two, Stadium MK was opened in 2007 and is all-seater and has a current capacity of 30,500, although that could be extended to as much as 45,000 if necessary, for whatever reason.
It’s never reached that capacity for an MK Dons fixture, however, as the highest attendance stands at 28,127 when the home side suffered a heavy 5-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round on 31st January 2016.
A multi-purpose stadium – three Rugby World Cup matches were held there in 2015 – and this is where the record ever attendance comes from as 30,043 were there on 6th October 2015 to see Fiji defeat Uruguay.
On their first visit to the stadium, travelling supporters will be in the North East Corner of the upper tier, where around 3,000 fans can be accommodated.
Last meeting between the two sides
Newport County AFC 0 – 1 MK Dons
Tuesday 12th February 2019
Newport County AFC hit the woodwork on four occasions and were ultimately made to pay for their lack of clinicality as they fell to their first home defeat of 2019 with a 1-0 reverse against a resurgent MK Dons.
The Exiles seemingly controlled proceedings throughout at Rodney Parade but somehow couldn’t find the target on a frustrating evening as they kept on hitting the goalframe and also found Stuart Moore in inspired form.
Inside the opening 23 minutes, Tyreeq Bakinson saw a menacing shot tipped over the top by away goalkeeper Moore, Robbie Willmott almost dinked the shot stopper with a cross-shot, and Jamille Matt wasn’t too far away with a header towards the far post.
Mickey Demetriou then thumped a header onto the crossbar as County were really trying to utilise crosses into the area from Robbie Willmott and Regan Poole.
Into the second-half and the pressure from the Exiles didn’t ease up – Bakinson made a menacing 45-yard run before smashing a shot off the crossbar, whilst Fraser Franks and Ben Kennedy were also denied by the woodwork following more crosses being pumped into the area.
It’s an old cliché but inability to get yourself in-front always has a habit of coming back to haunt you and MK Dons eased their poor recent form by snatching all three points with two minutes remaining.
The introduction of Chuks Aneke gave the away side more firepower going forward and the attacker broke Exiles hearts when tapping home from a few yards out after Joe Day initially made a superb save to thwart fellow substitute Jake Hesketh.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge
Assistant Referee 1: Kevin Morris
Assistant Referee 2: George Byrne
Fourth Official: Garry Maskell
Stockbridge is currently embarking on his sixth full season as a Football League referee having taken charge of his first game in League Two on 3rd August 2013 as Fleetwood Town started the campaign with a 3-1 home triumph over Dagenham & Redbridge.
He has refereed 27 games thus far this season, giving out 83 yellow cards and just the one red card, starting with six yellows on the opening day of the campaign as Notts County and Colchester United played out a 0-0 draw.
Only one fixture has passed this season without Stockbridge going to his pocket – that coming on 13th October as Morecambe secured an impressive away victory at Carlisle United.
The six yellows brandished on opening day is the highest number awarded by Stockbridge for an individual fixture this campaign, whilst his solitary red card went to Bury FC’s Will Aimson on 21st August during their 2-1 defeat to Lincoln City.
That follows on from refereeing a total of 41 games during the 2017/18 campaign, a season in which Stockbridge brandished 143 yellow cards and six red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.
Stockbridge has officiated a match involving Newport County AFC on three previous occasions in League Two and the Conference. The Exiles will be looking to improve their record from those prior encounters, having won once and lost twice.
It’s been a little time since Stockbridge last presided over the Exiles – nearly three years in-fact – when Accrington Stanley won 2-0 at Rodney Parade on 28th March 2016. No cards were produced to County players that afternoon.
Again there’s a break in time before the next County game refereed by Stockbridge and it came on 16th August 2014 as the Exiles threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at Morecambe. Lee Minshull received a yellow card.
The only other time Stockbridge officiated County was in the Conference promotion season of 2012/13 and came on 26th March as the Exiles won 2-0 at Southport. Minshull was again booked by Stockbridge, as was Will Evans.
Other fixtures in League Two that day (All 3pm kick-offs)
Bury FC vs Oldham Athletic
Cheltenham Town vs Port Vale
Colchester United vs Carlisle United
Crawley Town vs Macclesfield Town
Crewe Alexandra vs Exeter City
Mansfield Town vs Forest Green Rovers
Morecambe vs Lincoln City
Stevenage vs Northampton Town
Swindon Town vs Grimsby Town
Tranmere Rovers vs Notts County
Yeovil Town vs Cambridge United
Can’t make the match?
You can follow along on social media using @NCAFCLive on Twitter, or via the Club’s official Facebook, Snapchat 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 iFollow Exiles.