Newport County beat Middlesbrough. Newport County’s fantastic run in the FA Cup continued as they stunned Championship Middlesbrough to set up a fifth-round clash with Manchester City at Rodney Parade. The League Two side dominated their more illustrious opponents and were full value for the win, secured by second-half goals from Robbie Willmott and Padraig Amond. The prospect of the Premier League champions and Pep Guardiola visiting Newport is scarcely credible for a club that folded in 1989 and were within 90 seconds of dropping out of the Football League in 2017. County, who shocked Premier League Leicester in the third round, now stand to earn more than £1m from their FA Cup campaign, a potentially transformative figure for a club in the fourth tier. They have reached the fifth round for only the second time, and the first since 1949.
There were scenes of jubilation at full-time as Newport’s incredulous supporters bellowed “Manchester City
There were scenes of jubilation at full-time as Newport’s incredulous supporters bellowed “Manchester City, we’re coming for you.” Goalkeeper Joe Day had missed Newport’s past two matches as his wife was heavily pregnant with twins. With the birth apparently not imminent, Day was recalled to the side but returned to the dressing room at full-time to discover his wife had gone into labour and immediately rushed to hospital. The home players left behind soaked up the applause on a sodden surface, having knocked out a club 56 places above them in the Football League. Rodney Parade, with its packed terraces and uneven playing surface, has been a surprise factor against the likes of Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester in the past, but there was little prospect of Newport feeling unfamiliar to Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis. He grew up in Pill on Dolphin Street, a stone’s throw from Baldwin Street, where Newport boss Michael Flynn is from. He also spent two years playing for his hometown club in the mid-1980s and was warmly received on his return.
This was a special night for Newport and, based solely on performance
This was a special night for Newport and, based solely on performance, you would never have known which side was from League Two and which is fifth in the Championship and seeking promotion to the Premier League. Newport County, who needed a 93rd-minute equaliser in the original game to force a replay, were outstanding in the first half. They had 11 attempts on goal compared to only two from Boro, who hit the outside of the post through Jordan Hugill. County were unlucky not to convert an almighty scramble on eight minutes with Mickey Demetriou and Amond both seeing shots blocked, while Amond’s looping header was also close. Newport County thought they should have had a penalty when Boro midfielder Adam Clayton appeared to handle, but referee Stuart Atwell waved away the protests, before Dimi Konstantopoulos denied Amond from close range. Willmott’s brilliant run and cross then allowed Amond a free header, but it was straight at Konstantopoulos to cap a frustrating half. The hosts deserved a goal for their dominance and when Willmott, who was stacking shelves in a supermarket less than two years ago, raced clear and saw no obvious support, his speculative effort deceived Konstantopoulos and flew in from 20 yards.
The expected fightback from Boro never materialised and Newport County made the game safe with a well-worked second goal, Amond timing his run and firing home a Willmott corner in a move straight from the training ground. Middlesbrough had no answer to the Exiles’ dominance and now it is the over to the likes of Sergio Aguero and David Silva to work out the formula for beating Flynn’s men.