Newport County AFC will be looking to continue their formidable recent record at Rodney Parade when they host early pacesetters Exeter City on Saturday. The Exiles have slightly fallen off the pace at the top of the table in recent matches but know a victory puts them right back up there, while the visiting Grecians will be fully focused on extending their unbeaten start to the campaign.
Here, find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…
How they’ve started the League Two campaign
Exeter City’s start to the League Two campaign has been nothing short of sensational and even a defeat at Rodney Parade wouldn’t damage them too much as they’d be likely to remain top of the table regardless of result.
They’ve been at the summit of the fourth tier for roughly a month following amassing 21 points out of a possible 27 – winning six matches already against Macclesfield Town, Stevenage, Morecambe, Mansfield Town, Carlisle United and Port Vale.
Late goals have been a trademark of Exeter City this campaign and the main reason why they’re unbeaten thus far. They’ve contested stalemates against Swindon Town, Oldham Athletic and Leyton Orient.
It is unlikely that Exeter City will make too many changes to their starting side at Rodney Parade after flying out of the traps this season and being the only club in the division to be undefeated at this stage.
The Grecians don’t appear to have injury concerns ahead of the fixture so it’s likely they’ll keep to the same team which continued their impressive form on Tuesday night.
Exeter City team vs Port Vale (3-4-1-2): Ward, Sweeney, Parkes, Moxey, Richardson (L. Martin 63’), Taylor (C), Collins, Sparkes (A.Martin 87’), Law, Bowman, Seymour (Williams 63’)
One to Watch – Nicky Law
A highly experienced Football League player, Nicky Law has started the season really well and is one of the main reasons why Exeter are unbeaten in League Two – he’s scored a stoppage time equaliser against Leyton Orient, an 85th minute winner against Morecambe and an 89th minute winner against Stevenage.
Law joined the Grecians at the beginning of the last campaign and he’s seemingly rediscovered his scoring form – he’s got 14 goals from 52 appearances alongside numerous assists.
The 31-year old midfielder has a few Premier League appearances to his name from his time at Sheffield United, while he has also plied his trade for Yeovil Town, Bradford City, Rotherham United, Motherwell and Rangers.
Manager – Matt Taylor
Another manager to turn down the advances of an unnamed Football League club earlier in the week, Exeter City boss Matt Taylor admitted his ambitions for the Grecians was the reason why he turned the vacancy down.
He’s guided his charges to top of the table after the opening nine fixtures having accrued 21 points and the Grecians are the only team in the division to still be unbeaten.
Taking to the hotseat at the start of 2018/19, Taylor heads to Rodney Parade with a 43.8%-win ratio as Exeter manager. He’s won 28 of his 64 matches in charge, drawing 18 and losing the same number.
Meetings between the two sides in 2018/19
Newport County AFC have a pretty good recent record against Exeter City – winning three of the past five meetings – and last season they accrued four points against the Grecians thanks to two positive displays.
For the second season in succession, County went to St James Park while the Grecians were top of the table, but they managed to come away with a 1-1 draw on August 18th as Mark Harris struck his first County goal with a near finish. Jayden Stockley had earlier opened the scoring with a free header.
In the reverse fixture at Rodney Parade, County secured their first League Two victory of 2019 with a hard fought 1-0 victory on January 19th.
Jamille Matt made it 15 for the campaign with the match winner, tapping home after Mark O’Brien had superbly flicked on Robbie Willmott’s pinpoint free kick in the 72nd minute.
Referee: Neil Hair
Assistant Referee 1: Steven Plane
Assistant Referee 2: Joe Clark
Fourth Official: Savvas Yianni
Neil Hair is currently embarking on just his second season as a Football League official having taken charge of his first League Two fixture on the opening day of last season as MK Dons won at Oldham Athletic.
He has taken charge of six matches thus far this campaign, brandishing 15 yellow cards and one red card, last taking charge of a match on 7th September as Bristol Rovers and Accrington Stanley shared a six-goal thriller.
Those statistics follow on from refereeing 30 games in his debut campaign last season, a season in which Hair awarded 102 yellow cards and seven red cards throughout the entirety of the campaign.
Hair has refereed a match involving Newport County AFC on three previous occasions in League Two. The Exiles have a very good record in those prior contests, remaining unbeaten thanks to one win and two draws.
All the previous fixtures came last season, the last of which was the final day of the regular season as Jamille Matt scored a priceless 89th minute equaliser at Morecambe to secure County’s place in the play-offs. Mark O’Brien and Robbie Willmott were booked.
Next comes the 0-0 draw with Port Vale at Rodney Parade on January 29th. Willmott was again shown a yellow card, while James Gibbons was dismissed for the Valiants.
That just leaves the first ever County game presided over by Hair and it came on August 25th as Matty Dolan’s crisp free kick was enough to see off Grimsby Town. This time Dan Butler saw yellow, while Wes Thomas was sent off for the Mariners.
Other League Two fixtures that afternoon (All 3pm kick-offs)
Bradford City vs Carlisle United
Cambridge United vs Swindon Town
Colchester United vs Leyton Orient
Crewe Alexandra vs Salford City
Forest Green Rovers vs Stevenage
Grimsby Town vs Macclesfield Town
Northampton Town vs Crawley Town
Oldham Athletic vs Morecambe
Plymouth Argyle vs Cheltenham Town
Port Vale vs Mansfield Town
Walsall vs Scunthorpe 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 (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 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.