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REPORT | County are going to Wembley for an Emirates FA Cup replay with Tottenham Hotspur

27 January 2018

Newport County AFC are heading for a third visit to Wembley after holding Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur to a 1-1 draw in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round at Rodney Parade.

And County were only seven minutes away from causing one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition after Padraig Amond opened the scoring for the Exiles after 38 minutes.

Joss Labadie superbly dispossessed Kyle Walker-Peters out-wide before forcing a throw-in that was only half cleared to Robbie Willmott.

His delivery sat up perfectly for Amond to head home the opener on the night, guiding the chance straight into the bottom corner as Michel Vorm could only watch in the Tottenham goal as the ball flew past him.

The Exiles had done a remarkable job to nullify the obvious presence of Harry Kane, Day making a smart save in the first-half to keep him out, as County were battling resolutely in an attempt to secure a stunning victory against a side 71 places higher than them in the English league pyramid.

But Kane showed his Premier League class to salvage a replay for the away side, calmly passing into an empty net after Heung-Min Son had guided a corner into his path just two yards out.

That means County will have their name in the hat for the Fifth Round draw on Monday Night (live on BBC1) although will have to secure a victory at Wembley to get a spot in the fifth round proper for just the second time in the club’s history.

Mike Flynn elected to make two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Morecambe on Tuesday night.

That saw captain Joss Labadie make a welcome return to the starting team following a recent injury layoff with the hamstring problem sustained in the win at Grimsby Town.  

Josh Sheehan made his way to the bench in place of his captain, while Ben White was also brought back in after missing Tuesday’s game as a precautionary measure.

Mark O’Brien also found his name amongst the substitutes for the game, as Mike Flynn resisted the temptation to name a defensive line-up and set-up in the familiar 4-3-3 formation when in possession.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino also resisted his own temptation of naming a slightly weaker side and fielded a team full of internationals, although it was still five changes from their last Premier League outing with Southampton last weekend.

That meant Spurs went with a 3-1-4-2 formation from the word go, with formidable duo Fernando Llorente and Harry Kane up-front.

And you would have to say that the Exiles should have been in-front after just three minutes.

David Pipe and Joss Labadie both did well to regain possession after Kyle Walker-Peters was found to be indecisive outside his area, with the returning County captain drilling the ball across the face of goal from Pipe’s clever through ball.

Padraig Amond and Eric Dier both missed it but the ball found its way to an unmarked Frank Nouble lurking ten yards out, who really should have at least hit the target with the attempt as it sailed high and wide out of the stadium.

The first chance for the visitors surprisingly took until the 11th minute.

But there could no surprises that it fell the way of Harry Kane 25-yards out, although the frontman couldn’t quite find the right connection and it flew into the travelling support behind Joe Day’s goal.

The Exiles were certainly showing no fear of their Premier League opposition in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, certainly giving the ball away on far fewer occasions than the visitors in the early exchanges and causing a host of problems in the wide areas.

Kane used his imposing power to muscle his way towards the front post on 28 minutes, getting on the end of Trippier’s cross, only for Day to produce a remarkable save to keep it out with the help of the post.

All the Tottenham chances were falling the way of their talisman at Rodney Parade, who shortly after saw a speculative 35-yard free-kick just graze the crossbar on it’s way over.

The visitors were certainly beginning to assert some sort of authority onto proceedings, although not creating any further clear-cut chances, as they were without question getting more sustained spells in possession.

But the Exiles remained insistent that it wouldn’t last for long and duly took the lead in the 38th minute.

Credit must go to Labadie for his involvement in the build-up, dispossessing Walker-Peters yet again and forcing a throw-in from Victor Wanyama about ten yards in from the corner flag.

That delivery from Tozer was only half cleared into Willmott’s path on the edge-of-the-area, who whipped a perfect delivery towards the far post for Amond to power a header into the bottom corner as Michel Vorm could only watch it give County the lead.

Amond was almost at it again just four minutes later, showing more heart and desire to get on the end of what looked like a hopeful long ball, this time Vorm reacting well to save at his near post.

The indication of the two minutes additional time came and by without any further chances being created by either side as County took a one-goal advantage back with them to the dressing rooms.

And you would have to say that the Exiles deserved it.

Nothing was being left at Rodney Parade by any player - vigour, heart and desire all on show in abundance by the players in Amber and they were certainly not in fear of their opposition.

Labadie was by-far the stand-out player from a County perspective in the opening 45 minutes, working tirelessly to limit the service towards Kane and Llorente, while Mickey Demetriou was there should anything get through.    

And the Exiles would be even more pleased to see that Messrs Kane, Llorente, Wanyama and company were limited to just the one shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.

Day was equal to Kane on that occasion and he would have been mightily pleased with the courage portrayed by his defence to nullify the threat of the stellar Tottenham attackers for the rest of the half.    

That forced Pochettino into making an attacking alteration to begin the second-half at Rodney Parade, Heung-Min Son taking to the field in place of Walker-Peters.

But even that substitution couldn’t inspire Spurs into finding a route towards goal, White sharply making a last-ditch challenge on Kane in their best moment for the first 20 minutes of the second-half, as Pochettino turned to his bench yet again.

Llorente was the man to make way this time as the Argentinian sought after some more creativity in the middle, another international star in Dele Alli coming on.

And Alli was right at the heart of creating an opportunity within 20 seconds of his introduction. His splitting through ball found Son in the area, but Day was equal to it again to save firmly with his leg.

Kane fired into the side netting with 20 minutes to go as County continued to defy the odds at Rodney Parade, with Mike Flynn showing absolutely no fear of a Tottenham comeback by bringing another attacker into proceedings.

Hero from the Third Round Shawn McCoulsky replaced goal scorer Amond to a ferocious standing ovation from a packed Rodney Parade, the Irishman running his heart into the ground for the 74 minutes in which he participated.

And if anything as the game approached the 80th minute mark, Spurs were still no closer to breaking down a stubborn County defence, Pochettino chancing his final throw of the dice by bringing Ben Davies into the game in place of Dembele.  

But they would find their equaliser in the 82nd minute.

It was a well worked corner routine to find the net, Son rising highest to float a header to the back post where Kane showed his predatory instinct to tap home unmarked from two yards.   

Kane almost broke County hearts in the second minute of the four added at the end of the match, Day again alert to deflect it wide, as the Exiles secured themselves a lucrative replay at Wembley Stadium with a more than deserved draw in South Wales.

 

County: Day, Pipe, White, Demetriou, Bennett, Butler, Willmott, Labadie (C) (Dolan 83’), Tozer, Nouble, Amond (McCoulsky 74’)

Subs not used: Bittner, Reid, O’Brien, Sheehan, Hayes

 

Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm, Walker-Peters (Son 45’), Vertonghen, Foyth, Trippier, Dier, Dembele (Davies 81’), Wanyama, Sissoko, Llorente (Alli 65’), Kane

Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Sanchez, Amos, Georgiou

 

Referee: Roger East

Attendance: 9,836 (1649 AWAY)

Next up for County: Lincoln City (30th January 2018) AWAY


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