Newport County AFC and Mansfield Town are both just one game away from Wembley in the League Two play-offs. The tie is firmly in the balance ahead of the second leg in Nottinghamshire on Sunday, with an army of away supporters heading to The One Call Stadium confident of securing victory.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two play-off semi-final second leg…
What happened in the first leg
Newport County AFC 1 – 1 Mansfield Town
Thursday 9th May 2019
Newport County AFC and Mansfield Town have it all to play for in the second leg of their League Two play-off semi-final after sharing a 1-1 draw at Rodney Parade in the opening fixture.
Mansfield started the better in South Wales and grabbed the opener on 12 minutes. The Stags broke quickly from a failed County throw-in and when Jacob Mellis timed his pass to perfection, influential winger CJ Hamilton burst onto it and rifled a shot into the roof of the net.
County woke up from there after an otherwise slow start and Mansfield goalkeeper Conrad Logan had to pull off two remarkable saves either side of half-time to thwart Jamille Matt’s powerful header then Padraig Amond’s lobbed attempt.
The away side dominated the first half, but County came into their own after the restart and found their way back into the contest with seven minutes remaining.
Ade Azeez was tripped in the area by Logan and Amond dispatched the opportunity at the second attempt having seen the initial spot kick saved.
An interesting tactical contest failed to see the sides separated meaning it’s all down to 90 minutes (and possibly extra time / penalties) at The One Call Stadium.
Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft should still be missing up to five long-term injury absentees ahead of welcoming County to Nottinghamshire on Sunday.
Defender Matt Preston withdrew from Saturday’s clash against MK Dons midway through the first-half and a subsequent concussion has ruled him out for both legs of the semi-final.
Goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik (knee ligaments) was ruled out for 10-12 months just before Christmas, while striker Craig Davies (ankle), defender Hayden White (broken leg) and winger Jordan Graham (cartilage issue) are also out.
Midfielder Otis Khan – who scored twice against County on the opening day of the campaign – returned to the bench on Thursday night in a boost for Flitcroft.
Mansfield Town team from the first leg (3-5-2): Logan, Pearce (C), Turner, Sweeney, Jones, MacDonald, Mellis, Bishop, Hamilton, Walker, Rose (Benning 76’)
One to watch – CJ Hamilton
Not just because he was the goal scorer on Thursday, but the fact he was constantly Mansfield Town’s greatest threat on proceedings is why CJ Hamilton has been selected as the ‘One to Watch’ for the second leg.
His pace when operating as left wingback was frightening and he was always a threat to the County back line, with his goal the perfect epitome of why he was named in the League Two Team of the Season.
The 24-year old’s opener at Rodney Parade took him up to 14 goals for the campaign from 54 appearances and he’s got a shedload of assists to add to that as well.
A Mansfield Town player since the beginning of the 2016/17 campaign, this is by far and above his best season in football as he only managed three goals from 77 appearances across the previous two campaigns.
A youth scholar from Sheffield United, Hamilton has also featured for Gainsborough Trinity, FC Halifax Town and Gateshead.
Manager – David Flitcroft
A man with the know-how to get sides out of League Two, David Flitcroft used all his experience of football management to drag his Mansfield Town side off the canvas on Thursday night when they could have been down in the dumps having failed to secure automatic promotion.
To be in with a shout of playing League One football in itself is a remarkable turn of events because eight draws in the opening 12 matches looked to have curtailed any promotion hopes as they only just crept into the top-half as late as November, but some imperious form has seen them in the top-three on and off since Boxing Day.
A lot of credit has to go to Flitcroft as he’s relatively new to the role having taken charge on 1st March 2018 and he’s made Mansfield an extremely difficult side to beat. He’s only lost 17 of his 66 matches in charge, drawing 23 games and winning the remaining 26.
This spell at Mansfield is the fourth managerial position of his career.
Coming through the coaching ranks at former club from his playing days Rochdale, Flitcroft swiftly moved to be assistant manager at Barnsley then took over the team after a successful stint in a caretaker capacity.
From there, he moved on to Bury FC – his most successful managerial stint – and he took the side to the third tier by securing promotion on the final day of the 2014/15 season.
Flitcroft was sacked in November 2016 so took the hotseat at Swindon ahead of the 2017/18 season, leaving the Robins for Mansfield when the opportunity arose nine months later.
Stadium – The One Call Stadium
The One Call Stadium is currently the oldest ground in the Football League having hosted football since 1861, although Mansfield Town have only been tenants at the ground since 1919.
It has a current capacity of 9,186, although the record capacity for the stadium stands at 24,467 for a match against Nottingham Forest on 10th January 1953.
The Nottinghamshire venue is one that has been frequented by the Exiles on numerous occasions, although they’ve only won twice there on 11th January 1939 and 11th August 2012. Here’s hoping County make it a hat-trick of successes on Sunday evening.
County have been given 1,600 tickets for this fixture and that number is expected to sell out in another unbelievable support from the Exiles. All tickets will be situated in the North Stand behind one of the goals.
Sunday’s away attendance at The One Call Stadium will be by far and above the best from County in recent history. Some previous numbers include 357 for the victory in 2012/13, 224 in 2013/14 and 320 for the opening day of this campaign.
Referee: Michael Salisbury
Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Lee
Assistant Referee 2: Anthony Da Costa
Fourth Official: Peter Wright
Michael Salisbury will be taking charge of his first post season play-off fixture in his third season as a Football League official which started at the beginning of the 2016/17 season.
He has refereed 41 matches thus far this campaign, giving out 122 yellow cards and four red cards, including four yellows in his most recent game as Luton Town won the League One title on the final day with a home victory over Oxford United.
Only one fixture has passed this season without Salisbury going to his pocket – that coming as Coventry City and Accrington Stanley played out a 1-1 draw on 3rd November 2018.
His record number of yellow cards brandished for a solitary fixture this season stands at seven, a number he has awarded just once – in the reverse fixture between Oxford and Luton which the Hatters also won on 2nd October.
That follows on from refereeing a total of 38 games during the 2017/18 campaign, a season in which Salisbury brandished 98 yellow cards and seven red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.
Salisbury has refereed a fixture involving Newport County AFC on four previous occasions in League Two. The Exiles have a mixed bag of results from those matches having won one, drawn one and lost twice.
Remarkably, it’s been over 18 months since Salisbury last took charge of a County game. The last one came on 21st November 2017 as Barnet secured a late 2-1 victory at Rodney Parade. Padraig Amond, Mark O’Brien, Dan Butler and Frank Nouble were all booked.
The other three games came in County’s ‘Great Escape’ 2016/17 campaign, although none of them came in matches during Michael Flynn’s caretaker stint.
The first of that season came on 13th August 2016 as Jamie Turley’s header gave County their first victory of the campaign in a 1-0 success at Leyton Orient. Joss Labadie and Mark Randall saw yellows brandished in their direction.
Next came the 3-1 defeat to Plymouth Argyle at Rodney Parade on 22nd October 2016 in a game which featured an unbelievable goal from Jon Parkin. Joe Day was dismissed, while there were yellows for Rhys Healey, Jazzi Barnum Bobb, Kyle Cameron and Reece Grego Cox.
The remaining fixture came as County and Colchester United shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Rodney Parade on 12th January 2017. No yellows were produced to County players.
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.
As the game is a play-off first-leg match, no live showing of this fixture will occur on iFollow Exiles but the game will be live on SKY Sports Football from 17:30pm then also on SKY Sports Main Event upon kick-off.
Commentary of the game by Tim Thraves can also be found at the iFollow Exiles Match Centre from 17:45pm.
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.