Newport County AFC will be looking to close the gap on the League Two play-off positions when they contest one of their games in hand against Port Vale on Tuesday night. The Exiles won’t need much more momentum than the dramatic stoppage time equaliser against Middlesbrough, whilst the away side will be looking to make it back-to-back away league victories for the first time since October 2017.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…
Last five results in League Two
It’s been a case of Jekyll and Hyde recently for Port Vale as their home and away form couldn’t be a bigger contrast in recent months.
Port Vale are unbeaten on the road in League Two since defeat at high-flyers Mansfield Town on 17th November, picking up nine of the subsequent 15 away points since then, although they’ve only picked up one of the last possible 18 points at Vale Park.
That chalk and cheese form reflects in their five most recent League Two results, accruing just four points from the 15 available, starting with a comprehensive 4-1 home defeat to Oldham Athletic on 29th December.
Ben Whitfield had initially equalised for the Valiants during the match in Stoke-On-Trent, but goals from Callum Lang, Mohamed Maouche, Gevaro Nepomuceno and Chris O’Grady gave the Latics a comfortable conclusion to 2018.
New year, new Port Vale it seemed as they somehow managed to bounce back from that defeat and get a point at runaway leaders Lincoln City. Shay McCartan initially gave the Imps the lead, but Emmanuel Oyeleke smashed a long-range stunner in off the crossbar in stoppage time to ensure a share of the spoils.
Back to the heavy home defeats for Port Vale, however, as play-off hopefuls Colchester United were next to get all three points against the Valiants – Courtney Senior scoring early on alongside a Harry Pell double.
Ricky Miller’s solitary effort was enough to prove Port Vale can consistently pick up results on the road in a victory at Crawley Town, but on Saturday, Connor Simpson’s late goal gave Carlisle all three points to leave the Valiants marooned in 19th position – only five points above the drop.
Valiants manager Neil Aspin will come to Rodney Parade on Tuesday night with a massive selection headache as it appears he has limited attacking options at his disposal.
Talisman Tom Pope – who has scored 99 goals for the club across two spells, 11 of which have come this campaign – is likely to miss out through injury.
Fellow striker Ricky Miller was dismissed on Saturday for a reckless challenge on Carlisle captain Danny Grainger so he will start his three-match suspension, meaning former Exile Mark Harris will likely have to lead the line for Port Vale.
Aspin is therefore expected to shuffle the pack in South Wales as Port Vale look to continue their impressive recent record on the road in League Two.
Port Vale team vs Carlisle United (3-4-2-1): Brown, Rawlinson, Smith, Crookes, Gibbons (Elliott 83’), Kay (C), Joyce (Worrall 45’), Clark (Harris 45’), Oyeleke, Hannant, Miller
One to Watch – Emmanuel Oyeleke
A versatile midfielder / defender, Emmanuel Oyeleke may be forced to play even further up the pitch with the Valiants currently going through a striker crisis.
An advanced role shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the 26-year old who has two goals to his name already this season, scoring his inaugural goal for the club against Northampton Town in September before a stoppage-time stunner to salvage a draw at Lincoln City on New Year’s Day.
Signed over the summer from Aldershot, Oyeleke has made 24 appearances across all competitions for the Vailiants, who are the fourth club he has played for in the Football League.
The 26-year old started his career with Brentford in League One, before plying his trade in the fourth-tier with Northampton Town and Exeter City.
Oyeleke will now be hoping to forge a career for himself at Vale Park after struggling for sustained game time anywhere else – with the utility man having loan spells at Aldershot Town (twice), Woking and Canvey Island at various points throughout his career.
Manager – Neil Aspin
It certainly hasn’t been the easiest of managerial tenures for Neil Aspin since taking over at the club he played over 400 games for on 4th October 2017.
Taking over a club in dire straits, Aspin steadied the ship and achieved the target of keeping the club in the Football League – concluding the season in 20th position but only a point above the drop-zone.
This season, the club haven’t particularly progressed too much and sit a place above where they finished last season – meaning Aspin only has a 31.2%-win ratio as manager of Port Vale. The Valiants have won 24 of his 77 matches in-charge, losing 31 times and drawing on 22 occasions.
His spell in charge of the Stoke-On-Trent outfit is Aspin’s first in the Football League and comes after some remarkable results in the non-leagues of the English game.
Forging his career at Harrogate Town – another of his former clubs from his playing days – Aspin took over at FC Halifax on 28th April 2009 and won five trophies in six years – taking them from the eight-tier to the National League during his time at the club.
From there, Aspin moved on to Gateshead in November 2015 – his home-town team – and two solid seasons tempted Port Vale to secure the services of their former defender.
Last meeting between the two sides
Port Vale 1 – 2 Newport County AFC
Saturday 1st September 2018
Newport County AFC secured their first victory on the road in League Two of the 2018/19 campaign as they battled hard to grind out a 2-1 victory at Port Vale.
After withstanding some early pressure, the Exiles took the lead on 18 minutes when Scot Bennett capitalised on a goalmouth scramble inside the Port Vale penalty area to stab home his inaugural goal of the campaign.
The Valiants – who were previously unbeaten at home in the league – weren’t about to let their early pressure ease off and equalised nine minutes later through a little bit of history. Talisman Tom Pope powered home a header from a corner-kick to become the leading goal scorer at Vale Park – this one his 56th strike at the stadium.
County were in no mood to join the Pope party, however, and retook the lead just after the interval. Mark Harris – now of Port Vale – drilled the ball back, and when Padraig Amond left it after hearing a shout, Dan Butler swooped in to give County the lead again.
The goals from Bennett and Butler certainly meant it was the ‘unlikely lads’ to score for the Exiles and they were able to hold out from there to take all three points despite Valiants striker Ricky Miller hitting the post twice late on.
Referee: Neil Hair
Assistant Referee 1: Kevin Morris
Assistant Referee 2: Christopher Kidd
Fourth Official: Daniel Leach
One of the 12 referees promoted from the National League at the start of the campaign, Hair is currently embarking on his first season as a Football League referee having taken charge of his first League Two fixture on 4th August 2018 as MK Dons won away at Oldham Athletic.
He has taken charge of 19 matches thus far this season, giving out 59 yellow cards and three red cards, including four yellows in his most recent match on 19th January as Barnsley secured a comprehensive victory at AFC Wimbledon.
Just the one match has passed this season without Hair going to his pocket – that coming as Lincoln City and Carlisle United played out a high-scoring draw at Sincil Bank on 23rd October.
His record number of yellow cards for a fixture this season comes in at seven, something he’s only done once, as Mansfield Town scored in stoppage time to salvage a draw at Cheltenham Town on 3rd November.
That follows on from refereeing a total of 26 games during the 2017/18 campaign, a season in which Hair brandished 81 yellow cards and three red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.
Hair has only refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on one previous occasion and the Exiles will be trying to defend a perfect record when Port Vale visit Rodney Parade.
The date of the previous game was 25th August 2018 and County kept up their perfect home League Two record with a narrow 1-0 victory over Grimsby Town.
Matty Dolan’s free-kick just before the half-time whistle was enough to give County victory at Rodney Parade, making it three wins on the spin for the Exiles against the Mariners.
Interestingly, Hair’s first ever red card in the Football League was brandished during this match, Grimsby’s Wes Thomas dismissed in stoppage time, whilst Dan Butler and John Welsh were shown a yellow card.
Other League Two fixtures that night (All 7:45pm kick-offs)
Forest Green Rovers vs Mansfield Town
MK Dons vs Oldham Athletic
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.