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REPORT | Exiles suffer penalty heartbreak in Carabao Cup fourth round against Newcastle United

30 September 2020

Newport County AFC narrowly missed out on a place in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals after suffering a 5-4 penalty shootout defeat against Newcastle United.

Tristan Abrahams fired home his sixth goal of the season - and fourth in this competition - after just five minutes at Rodney Parade to give County a shock lead against the Mapgies.

And Michael Flynn's men, who had overcome Swansea City, Cambridge United and Watford in the previous rounds, looked as though they were on course to add a Premier League side to their growing list of cup upsets.

But Jonjo Shelvey struck three minutes from time to draw the away side level and ensure the tie was settled on penalties.

Swansea City loanee Brandon Cooper, who had put in an impressive display against the Magpies, missed the decisive spot-kick to ensure County's Carabao Cup run - the furthest they have gone in the competition - was brought to an end.

Flynn made two changes from the Exiles' Sky Bet League Two win over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon, as Scot Bennett and Padraig Amond replaced the suspended Joss Labadie and Ryan Taylor repsectively.

The Exiles showed their attacking intent in the opening stages and made a dream start to the tie with their first opportunity. After Swindon Town loanee Scott Twine saw his dipping effort from distance cannon back off the crossbar, the ball fell kindly into the path of Abrahams, who took a touch before diverting the bally beyond goalkeeper Mark Gillespie.

Steve Bruce’s side looked to respond to their early setback, and it was Jacob Murphy - the Magpies’ biggest attacking threat - who forced a string of saves out of Nick Townsend within the space of a few minutes. The former England Under-21 international saw his initial effort at goal kept out by Townsend, who got down low to palm the ball away to safety, before his second attempt brought a carbon copy save out of the Exiles shot-stopper.

Murphy enjoyed the Magpies’ only efforts on target and continued to cause the home defence problems. He was at the heart of another move for the visitors when he stretched the Exiles’ back-line and weaved into the penalty area. The winger looked as though he had another opportunity to test Townsend in the penalty area, but Cooper was there to deny him with a well-timed challenge.

County managed to soak up a period of pressure from the away side before enjoying chances of their own down the opposite end. Liam Shephard threatened down the right flank and managed to divert the ball into the path of Scot Bennett, who guided his half-volley marginally wide of the top corner just before the break.

But there was still time for Flynn’s men to enjoy another opportunity in stoppage-time at the end of the first half through Amond. Shephard, again at the heart of the move, latched on to the end of a loose ball and crossed back across goal to Amond, but he was unable to fire his effort on target.

The Magpies trailed at the break but created more of the chances throughout the first half, and began in the same vein after the break. Sean Longstaff's long pass forward provided the away side with their first opportunity of the second period, as summer signing Ryan Fraser latched onto the end of it and brought a strong save out of Townsend. Miguel Almiron was on hand to try his luck with the rebound but Townsend recovered well to pull off another save.

Newcastle continued to pile on the pressure and nearly found the equalisier when Murphy diverted Fraser's effort towards goal. The winger, who didn't appear to know too much about it, saw the ball hit his knee before Townsend again came to County's rescue to deny him.

But Bruce's men finally found the equaliser through Shelvey with three minutes left of normal time. The midfielder found space inside the Exiles' penalty area before curling a right-footed effort into the top corner to force a penalty shootout.

Joelinton was the only taker to miss from the opening seven spot-kicks before Ryan Taylor saw his effort denied by Gillespie. Murphy, Matty Dolan and Longstaff then converted in sudden death, but Cooper guided his effort over the target, ensuring the away side progressed through to the quarter-finals.

Newport County AFC: Nick Townsend, Ryan Haynes, Mickey Demetriou, Matty Dolan, Brandon Cooper, Liam Shephard, Scot Bennett (Robbie Willmott 81'), Josh Sheehan (C), Scott Twine (Lewis Collins 90+4'), Tristan Abrahams, Padraig Amond (Ryan Taylor.

Substitutes: Tom King, Ashley Baker, Kevin Ellison, Saikou Janneh.

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