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Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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01 May 2021 Venue Rodney Parade Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

Preview: Newport County AFC

30 April 2021

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Cheltenham Town will be hoping to take one more step forward in their pursuit of the League Two title on Saturday at Newport County AFC (kick-off: 3pm).

Having wrapped up promotion on Tuesday at home to Carlisle United, Saturday's final away fixture of the season in south Wales is the first of two games where Michael Duff's side will be doing all they can to try and claim the championship.

It's going to be a hard encounter given that opponents Newport are desperate to secure their place in the play-offs as they attempt to join the Robins in gaining promotion to the third tier.

Saturday's game will see the club join other teams and organisations in sport in a social media boycott in an effort to get social media companies to do more to stop abuse online.

You can watch the game live with an iFollow match pass which can be bought online before kick-off.

Team news

Once again there are no fresh injury concerns going into the game. It means just Will Boyle and Chris Clements miss out through injury.

Manager Michael Duff has been looking ahead to the match and has been speaking to the media. Skipper Ben Tozer also spoke to the press ahead of a return to one of his former sides.

Opposition

With two games to go Newport sit 6th in the division amongst the play-off positions but still need the results to confirm they'll be battling it out for promotion once the regular campaign is over.

They are two points clear of Forest Green in 8th who are in the last remaining spot outside the top seven.

A 4-0 win over Scunthorpe United boosted their chances in midweek. On that night goalkeeper Tom King was their choice in goal with Nick Townsend having also been used by them this season.

Their defensive set-up includes a number of long-term faces at Rodney Parade such as Scot Bennett, Mickey Demetriou and Ryan Haynes. Liam Shephard and Aaron Lewis are more recent additions in comparison but have added the quality needed to boast one of the best defensive records in the fourth tier.

They've just announced that Matt Dolan has signed a new contract and he could feature in midfield. Otherwise their options in the middle of the park include former Robins loanee Joss Labadie, AFC Wimbledon loanee Anthony Hartigan and two Wales internationals in the shape of Josh Sheehan and Joe Ledley.

Another long-serving face could lead the line up top. Pádraig Amond has been with the Exiles since 2017.

Youth product Lewis Collins is another possible attacking pick, while the experienced Nicky Maynard and even more experienced Kevin Ellison could feature. Dom Telford, who helped Plymouth Argyle clinch promotion last season, adds to a sizeable attacking group.

The manager: Michael Flynn

Having led his hometown club to the 2018/19 League Two play-off final, only to lose in extra time against Tranmere Rovers, Michael Flynn will be hoping this time his team can go up through the play-offs - as long as they secure their place in them first in the remaining two games on the fixture list.

The 40-year-old has been in charge in south Wales since March 2017 when he was initially installed into the role in a caretaker capacity.

He started his playing career with the Exiles and went onto play for the likes of Wigan Athletic, Gillingham, Blackpool, Huddersfield Town and Bradford City as a central midfielder.

His number two is former Forest Green, Rushden & Diamonds and Oxford United left-sided defender Wayne Hatswell.

One to watch: Mickey Demetriou

A mainstay of Newport's squad throughout the season and since first joining in January 2017, Mickey Demetriou is an integral part of their defensive line-up.

The 31-year-old has made 50 appearances in all competitions for County this season and scored two times in their hammering of Scunthorpe United on Tuesday night.

A reliable figure in Newport's League Two progress in recent campaigns, he started his career in non-league football with Worthing and also had spells at Bognor Regis Town, Eastbourne Borough and then Kidderminster Harriers before progressing into the Football League with Shrewsbury Town.

He's also spent time on loan at Cambridge United in a career where his longest spell has been with his current employers.

Social media boycott

The club are standing alongside other football clubs and organisations in boycotting all social media this weekend.

It's a move made to combat online abuse and discrimination on online channels and to call for social media companies to do more to prevent abuse and to hold users accountable for their actions.

The boycott will take place between Friday, April 30 at 3pm and Monday, May 3 at 11.59pm.

Though there will be no coverage on social media you can still stay up to date with the game by visiting the club website and watching the clash on iFollow.

Watch the match live on iFollow

Enjoy watching the full 90 minutes from Rodney Parade live online with an iFollow match pass.

You can buy a pass ahead of kick-off for £10 by subscribing online. Commentary is available with the team from BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

Coverage

As part of the social media boycott to encourage social media companies to do more to combat online abuse and discrimination on online channels in football, there will be no coverage on the club's social media channels of the match.

You can visit the club website for team news, live match updates, stats plus a post-game match report and reaction from the manager to the full time result.

Extended highlights will be available to watch online a few hours after the game on iFollow.

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Match Reports

Report & highlights: Newport County 1-0 Robins

1 May 2021

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The race for the League Two title will go to the final day after below-par Cheltenham Town were defeated by Newport County this afternoon.

After the highs of Tuesday evening, nothing quite went right on an afternoon to forget at Rodney Parade.
 
Perhaps it was a blessing that the club had committed its support to football's social media blackout this weekend, meaning there were no updates from the game. 
 
They paid the price for a poor start, allowing Joss Labadie to score from distance inside four minutes played and never really recovered. 
 
Michael Duff rang the changes in the second half and he got the response he was looking for, but they were unable to convert their possession into a much needed goal.
 
One crumb of hope was that Bolton Wanderers suffered a late loss at Exeter City, meaning the title is now probably out of their reach because of goal difference.
 
So it will all come down to next weekend's match against Harrogate Town, who feature in Bank Holiday Monday's FA Trophy final against Concord Rangers. The Robins hold a two-point advantage over second placed Cambridge United, hosting relegated Grimsby Town.
 
Ironically it was Harrogate's extraordinary 5-4 win against United 24 hours earlier that handed Duff's side the opportunity to clinch the title in south Wales, but they came up against a resolute side who boosted their own play-off hopes with the win.
 
So does this topsy-turvey season have one final twist?
 
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Duff was naturally disappointed after the game but remained positive going into the final week of the campaign.
 
"We didn't deserve to win the game today," he said after the match.
 
"We looked flat which is understandable after the week the lads have had. It's been an emotional week when you think about the late goal against Colchester United and come from behind against Carlisle United to get the point on Tuesday to do something this club has never done.
 
"So you need to recognise how big an achievement that is. But we came here today and we looked a little flat.
 
"The players have been on an emotional high and it was a little bit 'after the Lord Mayor's Show' today.
 
"The supporters will probably want to know why were we flat after the week we've had, but it's probably the week that's made us flat.
 
"No qualms with the result. We got beaten by the better team today.
 
"We've had a busy week so need to take stock and prepare for next Saturday (against Harrogate Town). We've got the best chance of winning the league, which has never been done at this football club so there can be no excuses next week. If we don't do it then it's because we didn't deserve to do it. If we do, then fantastic."
 
He made one change here. Alfie May came in, replacing Finn Azaz in an otherwise unchanged line-up and switched his formation to a 3-4-3.
 
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Meanwhile Welsh side boss Michael Flynn named an unchanged line-up for the fourth successive game.
 
And they got off to the best possible start as early as the fourth minute through former loanee Labadie, who rifled home from more than 25 yards.
 
Conor Thomas almost supplied an immediate response but his dipping volley was cleared off the line – perhaps with the help of a defenders hand – but quite frankly, the Robins were dismal before the break.
 
They were indebted to a fine save by Josh Griffiths after 20 minutes, clawing away a looping header while Padraig Amond wasted a golden chance moments later after some good work by Lewis Collins down the left to create the chance.
 
Sean Long produced a chance of note on the half-hour mark, calling Tom King into a routine save from the edge of the box, but overall his side carried little threat in the first half.
 
Callum Wright was pressed into action at the interval in place of Charlie Raglan, sparking a switch to a 4-3-3 formation while Andy Williams (for Sam Smith), Finn Azaz (Alfie May) and Indiana Vassilev (George Lloyd) were later sent on to salvage someting and there was an improvement.
 
Newport though were well organised and content to absorb the pressure, allowing Cheltenham to dominate possession but for all their play they couldn't test King, so the title race will go to the wire next weekend.
 
NEWPORT COUNTY (3-5-2): King; Shephard, Bennett, Demetriou; A Lewis, Hartigan, Sheehan, Labadie (c), Haynes; Amond, L Collins (Maynard 81) Subs not used: Townsend (Gk), Dolan, Ledley, Gambin, Ellison, Taylor.
 
CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-4-3): Griffiths; Raglan (Wright 46), Tozer (c), Long; Blair, Thomas, Sercombe, Hussey; Lloyd (Azaz 64), Smith (Williams 64), May (Vassilev 64). Subs not used: Flinders (Gk), Freestone, Chapman.
 
REFEREE: S Oldham

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