NEWPORT County AFC hunt three League Two wins on the spin when they travel to Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.

After excellent victories against Stockport and Morecambe, the Exiles’ streak of successes was ended when Barnet struck late in the FA Cup last weekend to make it 1-1 and earn a well-deserved replay on Tuesday.

Before that tie at the Hive – which will earn County £30,000 for live coverage on ITV4 and carries prize money of £67,000 for the winners – is the task of staying clear of a relegation scrap.

Graham Coughlan’s side are currently 11 points ahead of Sutton, 10 ahead of Forest Green and seven ahead of Tranmere, who are in the last safe spot.

Here are some talking points ahead of the fixture in Birkenhead…

South Wales Argus: CLINCHER: Calum Kavanagh sealed County's win at Tranmere in MarchCLINCHER: Calum Kavanagh sealed County's win at Tranmere in March (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


County head to Merseyside looking to repeat arguably their finest performance under Coughlan when they thumped Tranmere 3-1 in March to prompt the end of the Micky Mellon era.

The Exiles were superb with a near-perfect display with the only fly in the ointment a deflected consolation for Regan Hendry deep into added time.

County hit the front through Aaron Wildig and then Manchester United prospect Charlie McNeill slammed in his first senior goal to earn a 2-0 lead at the break.

It was a professional job in the second half, keeping Rovers at arm’s length, with the win sealed with eight to go when Middlesbrough forward Calum Kavanagh coolly slotted at the end of a clinical break.

Coughlan wasn't joking post-match when he said he was furious at the loss of a clean sheet but this was among the finest days of his tenure so far. 

South Wales Argus: IMPACT? Aaron Wildig scored at Tranmere last season but might have to be content with a spot on the County benchIMPACT? Aaron Wildig scored at Tranmere last season but might have to be content with a spot on the County bench (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


County have named the same XI for the wins against Stockport and Morecambe then FA Cup draw with Barnet.

Fitness-permitting, the odds would be long on Coughlan making changes to his line-up after being thrilled with the league successes then pointing to weary legs in the 1-1 against the Bees.

If there is a temptation then it would surely be to bring in an attacking midfielder – with fit-again Harry Charsley and Aaron Wildig leading candidates – for one of the forwards.

The trio up front press hard but one of the experienced midfielders would add a little more composure on the ball.

However, the manager might opt to give the duo longer outings off the bench as they work towards full sharpness.

South Wales Argus: BOSS: Nigel Adkins is in charge at Tranmere, and has turned things aroundBOSS: Nigel Adkins is in charge at Tranmere, and has turned things around (Image: Tim Markland/PA Wire)


Rovers remain in a perilous position and are one of the clubs looking to stay in touch with their fellow strugglers before addressing some shortcomings in the January transfer window.

Like Forest Green, Colchester, Walsall, Doncaster and Salford, they wouldn’t have expected to be down near the basement at the end of the year while County, with their meagre budget, have arguably been helped by their realistic approach from the off.

This is a big chance for the Exiles – win and they will have a three-game, 10-point safety net over Tranmere.

However, the Prenton Park side head into the game after a strong November that saw Nigel Adkins nominated for League Two manager of the month.

After being edged out by League One Stevenage in the FA Cup, they have beaten Forest Green 3-0, drawn at Sutton when denied by a late equaliser, won 3-1 against Gillingham and then drew 2-2 at promotion-chasing Mansfield.

South Wales Argus: THREAT: Wideman Rob Apter (left) has been in fine form for TranmereTHREAT: Wideman Rob Apter (left) has been in fine form for Tranmere (Image: Press Association)


Adkins is in the mix for manager of the month and Rob Apter has been shortlisted for the player honour.

The 20-year-old Blackpool loanee has scored five goals in his last five games in all competitions from the right flank.

That makes the selection down County’s left interesting and of late it has been Lewis Payne ahead of Matty Bondswell as the young loanee full-back of choice.

The Southampton prospect is a right-back and that has led to in-form Shane McLoughlin switching to the left.

The Irishman, centre-back Ryan Delaney and midfielder Bryn Morris will have to be on their guard in that section.

League Two fixtures: Accrington v Doncaster, AFC Wimbledon v Swindon, Barrow v Gillingham, Bradford v Salford, Colchester v Crawley, Forest Green v Wrexham, Grimsby v Crewe, Mansfield v MK Dons, Morecambe v Stockport, Notts County v Walsall, Sutton v Harrogate, Tranmere v County.