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PREVIEW | County return to league action with a trip to Crewe Alexandra

11 January 2019

Newport County AFC will be looking to kickstart their League Two campaign when they travel to Crewe Alexandra on Saturday. The Exiles won’t need much more momentum having knocked top-flight opposition out of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in 55 years last weekend, whilst the home side will be looking to continue some impressive form at Gresty Road.

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

 

Last five results in League Two

Crewe Alexandra have been somewhat travel-sick of late and have had to rely on their improved home form to keep them on the cusps of breaking into the top half of the League Two table.

All of their last five league victories have come at Gresty Road, last winning away from Cheshire in late October, and their recent form in the last five matches mirrors this inconsistency and the Railwaymen have accrued seven points from the 15 available.

That run starts at the beginning of the festive period when they suffered a 1-0 defeat at play-off occupying Forest Green Rovers on 22nd December. Joseph Mills’ deflected shot in first-half stoppage time was enough for Rovers to secure all three points, just their third home success of the campaign.

Back to back home games around Christmas gave Crewe the chance to pick up some vital points and they took full advantage by defeating both Lincoln City and Stevenage in Cheshire. Chris Porter and James Jones had already secured victory against the Imps before a Harry Anderson stoppage time reply, whilst Porter scored from the penalty spot to see off Stevenage.

But their away form has been what has held them back from being in the top half and a fifth successive away defeat came as high-flyers Bury FC secured a 3-1 victory. Porter scored again to give Crewe a half-time lead, but a Caolan Lavery equaliser then two from James O’Shea gave the home side the points.

In their most recent league fixture, Crewe were able to finally stem the flow of away defeats in a 2-2 draw at Morecambe but it was a performance that warranted manager David Artell to say it was ‘one of the worst displays of the season.’ It required a stoppage time penalty from Porter just to salvage a point, Jones opened the scoring for the Railwaymen before replies from Andrew Tutte and Kevin Ellison.    

 

Team-News

Having come through the festive period virtually unscathed, Crewe manager David Artell should have a near fully fit squad to choose from when County travel to Cheshire.

There may be question marks surrounding Eddie Nolan, however, as the defender has missed the last two fixtures with a calf strain. He will be given every chance to return and will face a late fitness test ahead of the game.

Artell told the club’s official website: “Eddie is still injured, and we will monitor him this week. He is still a doubt, but we are hoping that he might have a chance for the weekend.” 

Crewe Alexandra team vs Morecambe (4-4-2): Garratt, Pickering, Hunt, Ray (C), Ng, Kirk (Ainley 66’), Wintle (Dale 89’), Green, Jones, Bowery (Miller 89’), Porter

  

One to watch – Chris Porter

After going 16 games without a goal from September to Boxing Day, Chris Porter appears to have re-found his goalscoring form and has scored in each of Crewe’s last four fixtures.

Being the Railwaymen’s penalty taker does help that statistic somewhat – two of the four have come from the spot – as he has netted against Lincoln City, Stevenage, Bury FC and Morecambe.

Those goals help compose the seven he has in total from 25 appearances – scoring on the opening day against Morecambe and twice at Tranmere Rovers in the CheckaTrade Trophy – with Porter having a little way to go to catch the 12 goals from 37 appearances he achieved in his debut season last year.

A striker who has scored frequently wherever he has been, the 35-year old has played as high as the Championship, scoring nine second-tier goals from 44 appearances during a tough spell at Derby County.

His best goal scoring form came when plying his trade in League One with Oldham Athletic between 2005-07, scoring 31 goals from 75 appearances, whilst he also had a purple patch with Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership.

Starting his career with Bury FC, Porter has also featured for Sheffield United and Colchester United in permanent spells, alongside loan stints at Shrewsbury Town and Chesterfield.  

 

Manager – David Artell

Since taking over in the hot seat of the Cheshire outfit just over two years ago, David Artell has slowly but surely been ascending the club further and further up the table every season.

Joining the club initially in July 2014 as Academy operations manager – a role he twinned whilst playing for Bala Town – Artell clearly impressed and was appointed as first-team manager on 8th January 2017 with the club dangling precariously over the drop-zone in League Two.

After warning his players that relegation would result in them “ending up in the Conference North on £200 a week with a job as a milkman,” the squad regrouped and four wins from five in March saw them eventually finish in 17th – but Artell warned them they couldn’t finish that low again.

The players didn’t initially get that particular memo, however, as they could be found in 22nd position as late as November last season. Crewe did regroup come the end of the campaign and finished in 15th place having accumulated 56 points.

Arguably the best news of Crewe’s season came on 5th May 2018. Artell selected a side on the final day against Cheltenham Town that was composed entirely out of players who had graduated from the Crewe academy earlier in their career.

This season, Crewe and Artell will again be hoping for progression and a good run until the end of the season should see them secure a highest ever finish under the Englishman. The Railwaymen currently reside in 16th position on 32 points – but are only four off the top-half of the division.

 

Stadium – Gresty Road

One of the older stadiums in League Two, Gresty Road has been home to Crewe Alexandra since way back in 1906 but underwent major redevelopment in the 1990s into how it looks today.

Located conveniently next to Crewe train station, Gresty Road has a current capacity of 10,153 inside an all-seater stadium, although higher attendances were observed when there was partial terracing.

The record attendance was recorded as 20,000 when the Railwaymen hosted Tottenham Hotspur in the Emirates FA Cup. All of the ground would have seen their respective sides go into the hat for the next round with a 2-2 draw on 20th January 1960, although Spurs ultimately went through 13-2 in the replay five days later.   

Despite Gresty Road being reaped in history, it is not a stadium that County have frequented that often recently and they’ve only travelled to Cheshire twice since reformation in 1989.

The first of those meetings is a game etched in the history books of Newport County AFC as Mike Flynn took charge of his first game as manager of the club in a 2-1 away success for the Exiles. 198 away fans travelled on 11th March 2017.

Last season, 354 away supporters made the trip on the second matchday of the season as both sides took a point apiece in a 1-1 draw on 12th August 2017.

 

 

Last meeting the two sides

Newport County AFC 1 – 0 Crewe Alexandra

Saturday 11th August 2018

Newport County AFC secured their first three-point haul of the 2018/19 campaign by beating Crewe Alexandra 1-0 in the inaugural game of the season at Rodney Parade.

In a frantic opening, Crewe midfielder James Jones hit the woodwork from a long-range free-kick, whilst County duo Padraig Amond and Josh Sheehan were both denied by Abergavenny born shot stopper Dave Richards at point-blank range.

Virtually all the County deliveries into the area from both wings were finding the head of Amond in space so it was no surprise when the Irishman scored County’s first goal of the season when guiding home a Mickey Demetriou cross after 33 minutes.

Crewe weren’t about to give their top of the table position up easily, however, and they had their best chance on 65 minutes when Paul Green was fouled in the area by Demetriou.

Green got up to take the penalty but found the inspired figure of Joe Day in his way, the County shot stopper saving his first spot kick since 18th February 2017 when getting a strong hand to the attempt in the same corner that Amond scored.

Read the full match report from Rodney Parade.

Read Mike Flynn’s or Mark Harris’ thoughts of the game. 

Watch the highlights.

 

Officials

Referee: Nicholas Kinseley  

Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Smith

Assistant Referee 2: Mark Griffiths

Fourth Official: Aaron Jackson

Kinseley is currently embarking on his fourth full season as a Football League referee having officiated his first game in League Two on 17th January 2015 as Exeter City won a five-goal thriller away at Mansfield Town.

He has refereed 17 games so far this season, giving out 51 yellow cards and two red cards, including three yellows and one red on the opening day of the season as Wycombe Wanderers and Blackpool played out a 0-0 draw.

Only one game has passed this season without Kinseley going to his pocket – Oldham Athletic’s comfortable away victory over Grimsby Town on 15th September 2018.

His league high number of yellow cards stands at six during AFC Wimbledon’s away victory over Gillingham, whilst the other red card brandished this season went to ex-Sunderland defender Michael Turner during Southend United’s home defeat to Blackpool.

Those statistics follow on from refereeing a total of 29 matches across all competitions in the 2017/18 campaign, a season in which Kinseley gave out 124 yellow cards and six red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.

 

County Connection

Kinseley has refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on seven previous occasions in League Two and the Conference. The Exiles have a mixed bag of results from the previous matches, having won three, drawn once and lost the other three.

He should have already refereed County this season just before the festive fixtures really kicked off, but the home match with MK Dons was postponed on 15th December due to severe rain and blustery conditions in South Wales. 

Last season, Kinseley only officiated one match involving the Exiles, but it was a game in which they ensured a best start to a Football League season since 1982 with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over struggling Yeovil Town on 7th October 2017. Joss Labadie and Matty Dolan both booked.

In 2016/17, Kinseley took charge of two County fixtures, starting with the 2-1 home defeat to Cambridge United on 24th September 2016. Reece Grego-Cox, Ben Tozer, and Rhys Healey all booked for County during the game.

The other game that campaign saw the Exiles again suffer defeat as they fell to a 3-1 reverse at Crawley Town on 17th December 2016. Remarkably, County received eight of the 13 yellow cards awarded in total – Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Scot Bennett, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Ben Tozer, Joss Labadie, Marlon Jackson, Rhys Healey and Josh O’Hanlon all cautioned. 

In the 2015/16 season, a further three County games were presided over by Kinseley, including the 2-2 draw in the opening home game of the season against Stevenage on 15th August 2015. No bookings for the Exiles.

Next comes arguably the highlight result of the season as the Exiles stormed to a 4-1 away victory against Bristol Rovers on 24th October 2015. Medi Elito received a yellow card at the Memorial Ground. 

The final game that campaign incidentally came in the final home fixture when Notts County secured a 1-0 victory at Rodney Parade on 30th April 2016. Dean Morgan booked.

In County’s promotion campaign of 2012/13, Kinseley officiated a further two fixtures including when Jamille Matt scored an all-headed hat-trick against the Exiles in a 3-2 victory for Kidderminster Harriers on 8th December 2012. No bookings.

Kinseley was also the man in charge as County booked themselves a place at Wembley with a 1-0 play-off semi-final victory over Grimsby Town on 18th April 2013.

 

Other League Two fixtures that day (All 3pm kick-offs)

Bury FC vs MK Dons

Cheltenham Town vs Tranmere Rovers

Exeter City vs Morecambe

Grimsby Town vs Macclesfield Town

Mansfield Town vs Yeovil Town

Northampton Town vs Carlisle United

Notts County vs Cambridge United

Oldham Athletic vs Forest Green Rovers

Port Vale vs Colchester United

Stevenage vs Crawley Town

Swindon Town vs Lincoln City

 

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.


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