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Match Previews

PREVIEW | County return to Rodney Parade to face Cheltenham Town

14 March 2019

Match Previews

PREVIEW | County return to Rodney Parade to face Cheltenham Town

14 March 2019

Newport County AFC will be hoping its third time lucky on Friday night when they host Cheltenham Town at Rodney Parade. The Exiles have already suffered defeat to the Robins twice this season so will be looking for a certain amount of revenge, while the away side will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of victories and in the process arrest some terrible away form in League Two.

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


Last five results in League Two

Cheltenham Town have been very much like a Jekyll and Hyde team of late with their home and away forms in complete contrast to each other since the back end of last year.

The Robins’ recent home form is arguably up there with the very best in League Two – only one defeat in 12 at the Jonny Rocks Stadium – but the away form is more likened to relegation and they are without success on the road since New Years Day.

That disparity is reflected slightly in their recent form over the last five matches, but the Robins have been fortunate to have had four home games in that time so have picked up 10 points from the last 15 available.

Those points have virtually guaranteed Cheltenham’s safety for next season – the Robins are 13 points clear of the drop zone – and that was helped by securing back-to-back wins against teams below them after a 2-0 success over Cambridge United then 1-0 over Port Vale.

Not many sides will go to Mansfield Town this season and get anything, but few will come any closer than the Robins who were edged out 4-2 by the Stags. Chris Hussey and Charlie Raglan had previously hauled Cheltenham back from two goals down, but it wasn’t to be, as they conceded a further two more in the final 13 minutes to suffer defeat.

Billy Waters’ calm equaliser then secured them an impressive 1-1 draw with high-flyers Bury FC, before Waters was again on the scoresheet as Cheltenham ran rampant against strugglers Notts County. Will Boyle, Luke Varney and Tyrone Barnett also scored in a convincing 4-1 triumph.



Cheltenham Town manager Michael Duff could again be without defender Chris Hussey when he brings his Robins team to Rodney Parade.

Duff said he was hopeful that the 30-year old could return from injury in time for the game, but a decision will be made at the last minute. In his absence, ex-Exile Cameron Pring has sometimes deputised so he may make a return to Rodney Parade.

Other than that, Cheltenham have a fully fit squad to choose from and may benefit from a midweek off – where they attended the world-renowned Cheltenham festival (horse racing) – after switching the Bury FC game which should have been on Tuesday to a week earlier.

Cheltenham Town team vs Notts County (3-5-2): Flinders, Raglan, Tozer (C), Boyle, Broom, Dawson (Maddox 76’), Clements, Tillson, Hussey, Waters (Bingham 84’), Varney (Barnett 75’)


One to Watch – Billy Waters

One of Cheltenham’s National League promotion heroes from the 2015/16 campaign, striker Billy Waters has finally rediscovered his scoring form having re-joined the Robins on loan.

He’s scored in the previous two games – against high-flyers Bury FC and relegation threatened Notts County – meaning that in 10 appearances since returning to the club, he’s hit the same amount as the first half of the season.

A graduate of the Crewe Alexandra youth system, Waters was promoted to the first-team in 2012 and featured sparingly across the next few years when racking up 30 appearances and three goals.

A move to Cheltenham then transpired in June 2015, with the 24-year old smashing 11 goals from 41 appearances across all competitions in his debut season to help the Robins secure an immediate return to the Football League.

He bettered that tally in the subsequent campaign when getting 16 goals from 55 appearances as the Robins stayed up with a 21st placed finish. It was a stunning season for Waters on an individual level – he scooped three end of season awards – by picking up club player of the year, players’ player of the year and young player of the year.

Those impressive accolades attracted League One outfit Northampton Town – then managed by County legend Justin Edinburgh – to make a move but it just hasn’t worked out yet for Waters at the club with the striker spending part of last season on loan at Cambridge United and now back at the Robins.


Manager – Michael Duff

Michael Duff has made a fine start to life in professional football management and has taken Cheltenham Town from relegation contenders to top-half aspirers within the opening six months of his tenure.

Taking to the hotseat on 10th September 2018, Duff’s first move as manager was a bold one when reverting Cheltenham to a back five system and County fans will be pleased to hear Ben Tozer has had a massive impact on that when becoming the central defensive figure in the new formation.

A brave move from Duff but one that has worked to some effect already and Duff will head to Rodney Parade with a 35%-win record. He’s tasted success on 13 occasions, lost the same amount, and drawn the remaining 11.   

The 41-year old is currently embarking on his first managerial job in the professional game, with Duff’s prior coaching experience coming in the age grades at Burnley.

Having helped the Clarets secure promotion to the Premier League in 2015/16, Duff retired and was instantly put in-charge of the U18s.

A second-place finish in the North-West Youth Alliance saw Duff promoted to the U23s set-up. He also helped with Burnley’s senior team set-up this pre-season, but Duff decided to leave one former club for another to embark on life within professional football management.


Last meeting between the two sides

Cheltenham Town 1 – 1 Newport County AFC

(Cheltenham win 7-6 on penalties)

Tuesday 4th December 2018

Newport County AFC were knocked out of this season’s CheckaTrade Trophy at the first knockout stage following an agonising defeat on penalties at Cheltenham Town.

The first 13 penalties in the shootout were all converted before Scott Flinders lept well to his left to deny loanee Mark Harris and see County lose to Cheltenham for the second time in ten days – both meetings in Gloucestershire.

Penalties were required after the two sides couldn’t be separated in regulation time at the Jonny Rocks Stadium where County took the lead on 17 minutes through a cool finish from Padraig Amond.

Cheltenham weren’t about to give up easily, however, and they found their equaliser on 66 minutes. Alex Addai – selected pre-match as the ‘one to watch’ – prodded home from a corner-kick after County couldn’t clear.

Read the full match report.

Read Mike Flynn’s thoughts on the game.

Watch the highlights.



Referee: Lee Swabey

Assistant Referee 1: Ravel Cheosiaua

Assistant Referee 2: Kevin Howick

Fourth Official: Mark Russell

Swabey is currently embarking on his fourth season as a Football League referee having first officiated a game in League Two on 8th August 2015 as Mansfield Town and Carlisle United played out a 1-1 draw on the opening day of the season.

He has refereed 23 matches thus far this campaign, brandishing 80 yellow cards and six red cards, including two yellows on 4th August as Lincoln City started the campaign off with a slender away victory at Northampton Town.

His record number of yellow cards for an individual fixture this season stands at seven, a figure he has brandished twice – in Peterborough United’s away victory at Gillingham on 22nd September and Northampton Town’s away triumph at Stevenage on 23d February.

Every single fixture this season presided over by Swabey has seen at least one booking.

Those statistics follow on from refereeing a total of 18 matches across all competitions in the 2017/18 campaign, a season in which Swabey gave out 57 yellow cards and one red card throughout the entirety of the campaign.


County Connection

Swabey has refereed a match involving County on seven previous occasions in League Two and the Conference. Interestingly, all those prior matches also came at Rodney Parade and the Exiles have a decent record – having won three, lost three and drawn the other.

Originally scheduled to officiate County’s home tie with Northampton Town back in November, Swabey was replaced late on by Andy Davies, meaning his last game involving the Exiles came on 24th April 2018 as they prevented Accrington Stanley winning the league in a 2-1 victory. Mickey Demetriou and Ben White were booked.

That was one of two County matches presided over by Swabey in 2017/18 and the other was a cracker as a six-goal thriller was shared with Carlisle United on 9th December 2017. Robbie Willmott and Frank Nouble both cautioned.

He also took charge of one Exiles match in the 2015/16 campaign, but it wasn’t the best of nights for the home side with a 3-0 defeat to Barnet on 8th March 2016. Danny Holmes and Ben Davies saw cards brandished in their direction.

Those are the only previous occasions Swabey has refereed Football League matches involving County, meaning the other four came in the Conference promotion season of 2012/13.

Jake Thomson was the only player booked when County triumphed 2-1 over Lincoln City on 18th August 2012, whilst Andrew Hughes was the sole offender on 17th November 2012 when County were stunned 3-1 by Hyde United.

David Pipe and Lee Evans were amongst six players booked in total during a 2-0 reverse to Barrow AFC on 19th January 2013, while the remaining fixture from Swabey saw him give out no bookings in the 2-1 victory over AFC Telford on 23rd February 2013.


Other League Two fixtures that weekend (All Saturday 3pm unless stated)

Bury FC vs Cambridge United

Crewe Alexandra vs Crawley Town

Exeter City vs Colchester United

Forest Green Rovers vs Carlisle United

Grimsby Town vs Northampton Town

MK Dons vs Stevenage

Notts County vs Morecambe

Oldham Athletic vs Tranmere Rovers

Swindon Town vs Port Vale

Yeovil Town vs Macclesfield Town

Mansfield Town vs Lincoln City (Monday – 19:45pm kick-off)


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.

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