Newport County head to the Eco-Power Stadium having collected three successive 1-1 draws – including a stalemate with Eastleigh in the Emirates FA Cup.
They are also on the hunt for a double over Rovers, having triumphed 4-0 at Rodney Parade earlier in the season.
Form has been patchy for the Exiles and they sit three points ahead of Rovers in the League Two standings.
THE LAST MEETING
It went fully in the favour of Newport as they welcomed Rovers to Rodney Parade in the second weekend of the 23/24 season.
Will Evans scored twice along with Seb Palmer-Houlden and a Richard Wood own goal as the Exiles found themselves 4-0 up after 50 minutes on a bad afternoon for Rovers.
NEWPORT'S RECENT FORM
Though a consistent run of wins has been difficult for the Exiles to find this season, they are not losing many matches. In their last 11 games in all competitions, they have suffered just two defeats.
They have drawn their last three matches - including last weekend's FA Cup tie with Eastleigh, which means they have a replay coming up on Tuesday, with a lucrative fourth round tie against Manchester United awaiting the winners.
Away from home they have won three of their 13 league matches.
LAST TIME OUT
Newport County 1 Eastleigh 1
Emirates FA Cup, Saturday, January 6, 2023
Line-up: Townsend, Baker, Delaney, Clarke (Rai 87), Payne (Bondswell 65), Bennett, Morris, Charsley (Waite 66), McLoughlin, Evans, Palmer-Houlden (Wildig 87). Subs not used: Maxted, Sanca, Lewis, Bright, Wood.
Manager Graham Coughlan has been in charge since October 2022 and has steadied the ship at Rodney Parade.
Following a playing career that brought more than 450 appearances, Dublin-born Coughlan stepped into management in 2019 with Bristol Rovers, where he was part of the coaching staff. Having guided them away from the relegation zone, he had them in promotion contention in the 2019/20 season before opting to join Mansfield Town.
Prior to joining Newport, Coughlan was coaching Sheffield United U23.
THE KEY MEN
The Keeper: Nick Townsend
The 29-year-old joined Newport in August 2018 following a three-year spell with Barnsley. Townsend spent ten years in the youth system at Birmingham City before making the step up to the senior squad in 2013 and enjoying several loan spells. It has been with Newport where the Antigua and Barbuda international has fully established himself at senior level – having made 142 appearances for the Exiles.
Defender: James Clarke
The 34-year-old joined Newport in the summer of 2021 and has made 85 appearances since his arrival at Rodney Parade. The defender started his career at Oxford United. He dropped into non-league before returning to the EFL with newly-promoted Bristol Rovers in 2015 and played a key role in their promotion to League One. After departing the Memorial Ground, he spent two seasons with Walsall before joining Newport.
In Midfield: Scot Bennett
The deep-lying midfielder is closing in on 350 appearances for the Exiles after joining in the summer of 2016, initially on a two-year deal. The 33-year-old came through Exeter City’s youth system and went on to captain the Grecians before joining Notts County. His first taste of life with Newport came with a loan in 2015 and, after a temporary stint with York City, he made the permanent move the following year.
Up top: Will Evans
The striker joined Newport from fellow Welsh side Bala Town last season and was a regular feature in the side. The 26-year-old has kicked on significantly this season having moved to a more central position, with 17 goals in all competitions so far – including two against Rovers in the reverse fixure at Rodney Parade. A former member of the Shrewsbury Town Academy, he made his first steps in senior football with Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Newport County were members of the Football League from 1920/21 until 1987/88, when they were relegated. The following season saw the club was disband, but a phoenix club was formed as Newport AFC. The new club took on the Newport County title in 1999 and in 2013 they returned to the EFL.
Newport County’s first meeting with Rovers came in the 1958/59 season in a Division Three fixture at Somerton Park on November 1, 1958. County won 3-1 with Ron Walker scoring for Rovers. In the return match at Belle Vue, Jimmy Fletcher’s goal was enough to win the game for Rovers.
Last season, Rovers won 1-0 at Rodney Parade - County’s home since 2012 - on December 10, 2022. Kyle Knoyle scored the only goal. In April County won the return 3-1 at the Eco-Power Stadium.
TURNED OUT FOR BOTH
Republic of Ireland international Alfie Hale played for both clubs in the 1960s. The striker joined Rovers from Aston Villa in July 1962. He made a big impression in his second term, scoring 20 league goals. He went on to score 44 goals in 135 games for Rovers. In August 1965 he joined County, scoring 21 goals in 35 games before moving to his native Waterford.
Contributors: John Coyle and Gavin Hepworth