Newport County pulled off another extraordinary result in the FA Cup with a deserved 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Newport, who beat Leicester City 2-1 at Rodney Parade earlier this month to progress to the fourth round of the famous old trophy, were looking to claim another scalp against all odds when they were drawn away to Middlesbrough. The tie had already been dubbed ‘the battle of Pillgwenlly’; the area of Newport that both managers, Tony Pulis and Michael Flynn, were from. The 550-mile round trip was not going to put off the Newport supporters with over 1000 of them turning up to support the team.
Newport were dealt a potential blow before the match with regular goalkeeper, Joe Day being unavailable due to personal reasons. Substitute goalkeeper, Nick Townsend, who has started many of County’s cup games this season, was drafted in at the last minute. He more than held his own on a rainy afternoon in North Yorkshire, making some fine saves in the process. The first half was fairly uneventful with both Boro and Newport having a handful of half chances but no real cutting edge from either side.
Early in the second half, Middlesbrough broke the deadlock with defender, Daniel Ayala heading in from a corner past Townsend, who failed to get a strong enough hand to it. Boro then enjoyed a period of possession with local boy and veteran Stewart Downing being the architect of Boro’s control of the game.
However, County were not out of it just yet and created several decent chances with 19-year-old loanee, Antoine Semenyo, going close twice, once with a header and the other with a volley.
Four minutes were added onto the 90 with Newport seemingly running out of ideas. Then, in the third minute of the four added, Josh Sheehan put in a dangerous cross which eventually dropped to another local Boro boy, Matty Dolan, who calmly slotted past Darren Randolph to claim a dramatic draw for Newport. Dolan, who grew up supporting Middlesbrough, had only been on the field for seven or eight minutes and was Newport’s unlikely hero sending the travelling fans wild.
It is now Middlesbrough’s turn to make the long journey to Newport and back in a few days time for the replay. With their recent results in his competition, Newport will be going into this one feeling confident they can pull off yet another result to reach the fifth round and face the champions, Manchester City
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featured image credit SkySports