oals from forward duo Padraig Amond and Jamille Matt, in addition to a fortuitous own goal by Mark Carrington and a late thunderbolt from Dan Butler, were enough to secure Newport County’s place in the third round of this season’s FA Cup.
The Exiles will now face Leicester City live on the BBC on January 6th in a game that will bring a welcome dose of cash, rumoured to be in the region of £200,000 into the club as they seek to strengthen both their league position and that of the club generally.
A game that began with both teams somewhat feeling each other out with some nervy play was sparked into life on 15 minutes when Luke Young found himself heading for an early bath. The midfielder went into a 50/50 tackle with Mickey Demetriou with two feet and excessive force; referee Roger Johnson had no doubt but to brandish the red card.
This galvanized County’s first-half performance no end; in a frantic five minutes, Dan Butler stole into the box and forced a good low save from ‘keeper Rob Lainton, Mickey Demetriou volleyed the follow-up just wide and Jamille Matt could only tip a drilled cross from the left just wide of the target. But in truth, County’s slow approach to attacking meant that were limited to half-chances as Wrexham reset to having two well-drilled banks of four defending their half of the pitch…with relative ease.
County were grateful to Joe Day ten minutes before half-time as he produced a sublime save to deny Paul Rutherford. Matt Dolan was guilty of giving the ball away cheaply midway inside the County half and it eventually came to Rutherford, whose shot from distance was arrowing towards the top corner before Joe Day dived spectacularly to claw it round the post.
The home side needed to step it up in the second half and with less than five minutes played, they did just that. Having been gifted a corner, Matt Dolan swung it in from the right and found an unmarked Fraser Franks who bulleted a header towards goal where Padraig Amond applied the final touch from barely a yard out.
Just ten minutes later, County all but cemented their place in Round Three with a second. Padraig Amond was advanced further up the pitch in the second half and it was his chasing of a lost cause that allowed Robbie Willmott to cross from the opposite side of the box for Jamille Matt who slid in his second goal of the competition. Half a dozen minutes later, Wrexham’s misery was compounded further when Mark Carrington deflected Padraig Amond’s shot beyond Rob Lainton into his own net for 3-0.
County had the luxury of being able to kill the game off by playing the ball around at will after the third goal; they played with more intent and picked their moments to go forward well. They even had time to put a fourth goal past the North Wales side. Dan Butler, who was his usual busy, efficient self throughout the evening strode forward to the corner of the box and fired a fierce shot into the far corner to kill Wrexham off once and for all. 4-0 to County; a well-deserved path into Round Three.
Leicester can wait for now though; it still promises to be a difficult December for the men in Amber. MK Dons are the next visitors to Rodney Parade; against ten men or not, I wonder how much confidence the Exiles will take from this result. Can they topple the league’s top side? They might just.
Man of the Match: Antoine Semenyo
Player Ratings: Day 7, Pipe 7, Butler 7, Franks 7, Dolan 7 (Labadie 6), Amond 7, Matt 7, Bakinson 6, Bennett 6 (Willmott 7), Demetriou 7, Semenyo 8
Attendance: 4,143 (501 away)