The Exiles put in a hard fought performance in a dramatic Emirates FA Cup tie...

Nine days later than scheduled, Newport County faced off against Blackburn Rovers in the third round of the FA Cup, knowing that a win would see them take a trip to Oxford in a couple of weeks’ time for the fourth round. 

Newport had the first chance after only a couple of minutes when Barrow fired a low cross from the left hand side that Aaron Collins nearly got his outstretched foot to but Steele in the Blackburn goal was first to the ball to take the opportunity away. Blackburn had early chances as well  and after some quick link up play down the right hand side Chris Brown was unlucky when his diving header looped over Joe Day’s crossbar.

Blackburn got a penalty after just six minutes after Scott Barrow brought down his marker in the box and despite Joe Day guessing correctly and diving the right way, the ball was beyond his fingertips and Blackburn had the lead early on.


The leaders were quickly down to 10 men though after Brown came in with a studs up challenge on Medy Elito and the referee Charles Breakspear showed no hesitation in pulling out the straight red card. 


Elito was severely injured in the tackle and had to be substituted off on a stretcher and he was replaced by Tom Owen-Evans. Newport spent the next five minutes all over Blackburn and their best chance came from Mark Byrne when he fired a half volley from twenty five yards that forced Jason Steele into a superb save to keep the visitors in front. The game had all the makings of a classic cup tie in the first twenty minutes.

Blackburn weren’t without their own chances though and showed why they are the Championship side on a number of occasions with a few good through balls that but the County defence under pressure and they could have been a few more goals up if it hadn’t been for some brilliant defending from Donacien. 

Newport were back on level terms on the half hour mark with an absolute beauty of a strike from Mark Byrne from 25 yards out straight into the top corner of the net to bring the home side back on level terms. The home fans could sense that this could spark their side into grabbing a second.


County nearly grabbed a second when Conor Dymond flicked the ball with the outside of his boot towards the far corner of the post but the looping shot from Mark Byrne’s cross just clipped the outside of the post and out for a goal kick.

The game began to quieten down as it neared half time with neither side have many clear cut chances to take the lead. With five minutes of time being added on at the end of the half purely for Medy Elito’s injury, Newport were keen to have the upper hand going into the break. They were given a free kick just outside the penalty area in the second minute of the five which Mark Byrne took right footed but it went calmly over the bar.


The second half started a lot slower than the first with both sides anxious to get the next goal. Blackburn brought on top scorer Jordan Rhodes at half time in an attempt to change the way that the game was panning out but Newport had the first real chance of the second half when Mark Byrne found himself in space on the edge of the area, but he mistimed his shot and it was comfortably blocked before it reached the keeper.

Both sides had chances but it didn’t look as though Blackburn were the Championship side and Newport were matching them shot for shot to the extent that after an hour of play Newport had 60% possession and double the shots on target of the visitors. For the first fifteen minutes of the second half at least, neither side really looked like getting second goal.

Newport started to use their extra man to full advantage, passing the ball around the edge of the Blackburn box, trying to find that crucial final pass that would lead to the goal. Scott Boden nearly got on the end of a perfect through ball from Aaron Collins in the box but Steele was half a yard quicker than him and managed to clutch the ball safely in his grasp.

It was the Championship side that took the lead though when a cross came in from the left hand side and Jordan Rhodes scored his tenth of the season, when he rose higher than Donacien and headed the ball from the six yard box past Joe Day who had to try and make a reaction save to keep it out.


Scott Boden then had a glorious opportunity to level the match when he found himself alone in the penalty area for a header and half of the ground thought he was going to bury it, only to see his header sail over the bar with ten minutes to go and the County fans could see their opportunities to get something out of the game decreasing rapidly.

As the game ticked into four minutes of added time the crowd were urging Newport forward to try and force a replay but Blackburn controlled the ball in stoppage time and often took the ball into the Newport corner. The result was that 

Newport failed to score the goal they needed and to add insult to injury lost Joe Day to a red card right at the end of the game as he slid in from way outside his penalty area and brought down the oncoming striker. It’s Blackburn then who go on to face Oxford next weekend. 


Newport County: Day, Holmes, Barrow (Green 96’), Davies, Elito (Owen-Evans 14’), Donacien, Hughes, Boden, Dymond (M.Taylor 82’), Byrne (c), Collins

Subs not used: Klukowski, Ralph, Twumasi, Parselle

Goals: Byrne 30’

Bookings: Dymond 

Sent off: Day

Blackburn Rovers: Steele, Spurr, Hanley (c), Brown, Marshall, Lawrence (Conway 77’), Bennett (Rhodes 45’), Taylor, Akpan, Lenihan, Evans (Henley 89’)

Subs not used: Olsson, Raya

Goals: Marshall 6’, Rhodes 75’

Bookings: Lawrence, Taylor

Sent off: Brown

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 5083 (558 Away)