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From the Archive | A Dramatic Victory at Wembley

22 December 2023

Club News

From the Archive | A Dramatic Victory at Wembley

22 December 2023

With just one day to go until we head to North Wales for our clash with Wrexham, we finish this week’s From the Archive series with our most memorable victory over Saturday’s opponents - our play-off final win in 2013.

After a dramatic win over Grimsby in the semi-finals, we secured an all-Welsh final for the first time in National League history. Wrexham had booked their spot in the final with a comfortable 5-2 aggregate victory over Kidderminster in the semis. 

Both managers, Justin Edinburgh and Andy Morrell, named unchanged sides from the teams that had won in the semi-finals. Morrell himself led the line for Wrexham alongside Brett Ormerod, a man who had his fair share of Wembley experience, having netted the winning goal for Blackpool in the Championship play off final a few years previous. 

Edinburgh had the tough decision of whether or not to hand Aaron O'Connor a start. Our top scorer had returned from injury during the semi-finals and was ready and available to take to the field at Wembley. However, Edinburgh put faith in his team, handing O’Connor a place on the bench, a decision that would prove to be decisive. 

The two sides were full of confidence heading to the British capital, with a bumper crowd of over 16,000 fans in attendance. Wrexham had been formidable throughout the campaign, boasting a resilient team that mixed experience with youth that had dominated teams across the middle of the park. 

We had been one of the most exciting teams to watch in the division, showcasing one of the league’s most potent attacks, hitting the net 85 teams, second only to league winners Mansfield Town. 

It was a tense battle in the first half, with neither team creating too many clear-cut opportunities. Brett Ormerod was a constant threat for Wrexham, driving a shot just wide of the post in the 15th minute in what was probably the best chance of the opening 45. 

Things kicked up a gear in the second half. Both teams came out firing, and the game really opened up. In the 58th minute, Morrell forced a save out of Lenny Pidgley, with the ball falling to Ormerod, who fired high into the crowd. 

The experienced striker would also be denied by Pidgley minutes later, with the striker driving a strong effort goalwards, only to have it acrobatically put over the bar. 

In typical Newport County fashion, we decided to optimise the drama of the game and leave the opening goal until the final five minutes. A long ball went over the head of David Artell, now manager at Grimsby Town, and was latched on to by Christian Jolley, with the striker running down on goal. 

Refusing to let the pressure get to him, he casually hit the ball over the oncoming Chris Maxwell in the Wrexham goal, sending the travelling Newport fans behind the goal into wild scenes of ecstasy. 

Just as the Newport fans had picked themselves up from over the seats and recovered their belongings from the first wild celebration, super sub Aaron O'Connor sealed the deal in the 93rd minute. 

Our leading scorer found the ball in the box, with his initial shot being saved by Maxwell, but he followed it up with a ferocious volley, with Maxwell helpless, and Wrexham defender Neil Ashton left crestfallen on the pitch. This sparked the kind of celebrations fans spend their whole lives waiting for, and it secured our spot back in the Football League for the first time in 25 years. 

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