County suffered the anguish of a penalty shoot-out defeat after a defiant performance saw us take Premier League Brentford all the way.
Graham Coughlan made four changes from Saturday’s starting 11, with James Waite returning to the team and Omar Bogle, Matty Bondswell, and Jonny Maxted getting their first starts of the campaign.
Brentford’s Premier League quality was on display in the opening 20 minutes, with runs from debutant Michael Olakigbe proving to be particularly effective. The Bees could not find a breakthrough, though, with the best chance of the opening period being a headed effort from the returning Ben Mee that was caught by Maxted.
Kristoffer Ajer and Kevin Schade had efforts from outside the box, but neither really looked like hitting the net.
County were patient, though, and Brentford’s control of the game started to slip around the half-hour mark. After chasing possession for a while, Newport switched up a gear, creating the best chance of the half in the 33rd minute.
Omar Bogle, a constant thorn in the side of the Brentford defence, crossed the ball into Harry Charsley, who headed it narrowly wide as Rodney Parade stood to its feet and held its breath.
County’s confidence continued to rise, with a period of sustained pressure creating a string of half-chances, with Bogle and Charlsey continuing to make a nuisance of themselves.
Brentford got back into the action in the half's closing stages but could not create any serious chances, with the two teams going into the changing rooms level at half-time.
Both teams returned to the field unchanged in the second half. The opening 15 minutes saw very few notable opportunities, with the Newport defence holding its own against a persistent Brentford front line.
Thomas Frank dipped into his arsenal of talent in the 61st minute, bringing on Yoan Wissa, Bryan Mbeumo and Mathias Jensen for Frank Onyeka, Michael Olakigbe, and Kevin Schade. County made three changes over their own minutes later, with Seb Palmer Houlden, Nathan Wood, and Scot Bennett replacing Omar Bogle, Aaron Wildig, and Harry Charsley.
Unfortunately, Seb Palmer Houlden’s game was cut short moments later, with the striker going down following a collision with a Brentford defender. Kiban Rai then replaced him after a brief break in play.
Bryan Mbuemo quickly made his presence felt after the restart, controlling a long ball, cutting inside and driving a low shot at Jonny Maxted, who pushed it around the post for a corner.
Minutes later, Scot Bennett had Newport’s best chance of the second half so far. A stray throw-in from Brentford was struck first time, with the shot going agonisingly wide of the post in the 74th minute.
Brentford responded minutes later when a free-kick from Mbuemo was swung into the back post, but Yoan Wissa could not find a way past Maxted.
As the threat of penalties loomed, County turned up the pressure in the final 10 minutes, with Kiban Rai and Adam Lewis making several threatening runs.
Newport were then dealt the cruellest of blows in the 87th minute. A dangerous ball from Mbuemo was whipped into the back post and met by Wissa, who played it back across the goal mouth for Matthias Jensen to tap home.
If there is one thing we have learned so far this season, though, it’s that you can’t count this team out. Kiban Rai chose the perfect time to score his first-ever professional goal, heading home a cross from Adam Lewis in the 95th minute to send a jubilant Rodney Parade into the rafters and the game into the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.
Unfortunately, it was not to be our night, with Brentford winning the shoot-out 3-0 in front of the away end. County will look back on the 90 minutes with their heads held high, though and know that they came within moments of claiming yet another Premier League scalp. Attention will now turn to the visit of AFC Wimbledon this coming Saturday.
Newport County: Maxted, Lewis, Delaney, Clarke, Morris, Bogle (Palmer Houlden 63), Waite, Seberry, Charsley (Wood 63), Wildig (Bennett 63), Bondswell (Payne 82) Subs: Townsend, Payne, Drysdale, Bennett, Rai, McLoughlin, Wood, Palmer-Houlden
Brentford: Balcombe, Shade (Wissa 61), Zanka, Onyeka (Jensen 61), Mee (Hickey 76), Ajer, Lewis-Potter, Janelt, Roerslev, Yarmoliuk (Brierly 76), Olakigbe (Mbeumo 61) Subs: Flekken, Hickey, Jensen, Wissa, Mbeumo, Collins, Ji-Soo-Kim, Brierley, Adedokun
Attendance: 4,981 (935 away)