Newport County has become known for many things over the years, but one of the greatest monikers any football club at our level can become associated with is being a ‘giant killer’.
Giant killing is a task that has become heavily associated with the FA Cup, with many fans often pointing to the great cup killings of Chelsea by Bradord, Everton by Shrewsbury, Man City by Wigan, or Arsenal by York. In South Wales, though, we don’t like to discriminate. We are happy to take on giants in whatever form they are presented, and over the last decade, we have made it a habit of ours to take them out in the EFL Cup and the FA Cup.
This fine tradition of ours was brought back to life upon our return to the Football League, and it didn’t take us long to claim our first scalp. Our very first League Cup encounter since our return ended in a memorable 3-1 extra-time victory against Championship Brighton. Danny Crow was our hero that day, grabbing a late equaliser to send us into extra time, only to go one better in the 124th minute and give us the lead. Connor Washington would step up to add the third in what was a truly memorable victory.
We allowed the giants to roam for a few years, but we decided it was time to get our slingshot out once again in January 2018 when the mighty Leeds United visited Rodney Parade. The FA Cup Third Round is perhaps the most famous hunting ground for giant killers, and 6,887 fans packed into Rodney Parade, hoping to see us bring down an icon of the game.
They were not disappointed. Gaetano Berardi grabbed the visitors an early lead, with a long-range giving the Swiss centre-half his first goal for the club. With 15 minutes left on the clock, County turned up the pressure, and it finally paid off when a cross was converted into the Leeds net by their own defender, Conor Shaughnessy. The pressure never let up, and in the 89th minute, Shawn McCoulsky rose the highest from a corner to head the ball into the net and send Rodney Parade into jubilant celebrations.
An even bigger giant awaited us in the next round. Tottenham Hotspur, led by Mario Pocchentino and featuring talismanic striker Harry Kane, were our opponents in the next round. Padraig Amond was our hero that day, with his powerful header finding its way past Vorm in the Spurs net. We were eight minutes from another memorable killing when Harry Kane denied us with an 82-minute equaliser. While giants were not killed that day, they were certainly tamed, and we look forward to Spurs paying us a visit again one day.
After a few years away from giant killings, our 2017/18 run really gave us a taste for it, and we took our biggest scalp the following season. Former Premier League champions Leicester City were our visitors to Rodney Parade in that season’s FA Cup third round, and they come across a Newport side in the mood to make history.
Claude Puel’s team were instantly stunned when Jamille Matt’s perfectly placed header put us 1-0 to the good inside 10 minutes and set a party atmosphere in Rodney Parade that would continue until the 82nd minute when Rachid Ghezzai drew the Foxes level. The celebrations were only on hold for a matter of minutes, though, with Padraig Amond holding his nerve and converting an 85th-minute penalty, writing his place in Newport County folklore in the process.
We were far from done with our giant-killing escapades in the cup that season, though, with goals from Robbie Willmott and Padraig Amond helping us to secure a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the next round. Tony Pulis’s men had been brave enough to earn a draw against us at the Riverside, bringing the tie back to our happy hunting ground at Rodney Parade.
COVID-19 would change the world in 2020, but one thing it couldn’t change was our giant-killing abilities. In the 2020/21 season, we dispatched local neighbours Swansea City 2-0 in the EFL Cup, with goals from Tristan Abrahams enough to put us into the draw for the next round. We would then defeat Cambridge United before welcoming Watford to Rodney Parade.
The club, who had just been relegated from the Premier League, had clearly not been warned of our giant-killing tendencies, and they were put to the sword by a County team in fine-scoring form. Goals from Tristan Abrahams, Joss Labadie, and Padraig Amond which saw us pick up a confident 3-1 victory.
For any other team, knocking out six teams from the top tiers of English football would have been enough, but not Newport County. We found the time for one more giant killing at the start of the 2022/23 campaign, this time, it was on the road at Luton Town.
Kenilworth Road is a notoriously tough hunting ground for away teams, but we entered standing tall, and that’s exactly how we left. We battled back from twice behind, with goals from Lewis Collins and Chanka Zimba cancelling leads from Carlos Mendes Gomes and Tom Lockyer. James Waite then stepped up as the night’s hero, with his 76th-minute strike securing us a spot in the second round of that year’s EFL Cup.
This Tuesday night, Thomas Frank and his team will trade the glitz and glam of the Premier League and head to South Wales tto face with the Football League’s most notorious giant killers. The lads are sure to leave everything on the pitch, and they will need a packed-out Rodney Parade to be in full voice to help them claim another scalp.
So let’s get behind the boys, pack the Parade, and book our place in the EFL Cup Third Round. After all, we’re Newport County, and giant-killing is what we do.
Secure your tickets for Tuesday night here.