Newport County vs Wrexham | A Rivalry Built on Revenge

This weekend, we welcome Phil Parkinson’s Wrexham to Rodney Parade for what promises to be an exciting encounter. Upcoming cup encounters aside, the game is one of our most anticipated of the season, with it being the first all-Welsh league game to take place at Rodney Parade in over a decade.

While the game is often mislabelled as a derby by national media, there is no denying that there is a healthy rivalry between us, with plenty of pride on display when the two teams clash. This is not a rivalry built on geography, though, but rather, one built on revenge. 

It has been over a decade since we welcomed Wrexham to Rodney Parade in a league fixture, and it is fair to say things have changed significantly for both teams in that time. 

The last time we played each other in a league encounter at home, we were both battling for promotion at the top of the National League. A Danny Wright goal handed Wrexham the lead with a strike from Max Porter, pulling us level and ensuring both sides took a point from the tie. 

Unfortunately, neither we nor Wrexham would secure automatic promotion, and we would enter the end-of-season lottery that is the playoffs. This was when our rivalry was really turned up a gear. 

In front of 16,346 under the Wembley arch, the two teams took part in a cagey encounter, with the game looking as though it was heading towards extra-time with just minutes left on the clock. 

However, we managed to dig deep, with a long ball to Christian Jolley catching the Wrexham defence out in the dying minutes, allowing the striker to run through and slot past Chris Maxwell in the Wrexham goal to send the travelling Newport fans into the rafters. 

There was still time for more magic, though, with Aaron O'Connor, our leading scorer that campaign, coming off the bench to smash home another goal in the 94th minute to secure our return to the Football League after 25 years away. 

This was ten years ago, and we have spent every season in League Two ever since. Things were not quite as rosy for our foes in the North, though. Wrexham would enter a period of mid-table mediocrity, only reaching the play-offs again in 2018/19, when they lost 1-0 to Eastleigh in the quarter-finals at the Racecourse. 

Of course, our paths would cross again in the FA Cup in 2018/19. After losing manager Sam Ricketts, Wrexham arrived in South Wales looking to bounce back and continue to build on their promotion-chasing league form. 

However, this was not to be. An early red card for Luke Young saw the Reds reduced to ten men, and despite holding us off in the first half, they were brutally dispatched in the second. Goals from Padraig Amond and Jamille Matt before the 60th minute got the party started before Mark Carrington put the ball into his own net to make it 3-0 minutes later. 

Dan Butler rounded off the scoring in stoppage time, firing a spectacular effort past Rob Lainton in the Wrexham goal. This would be the last time we would play them before this year, and for many fans, it felt like we would always have Wrexham’s number. 

However, things changed in 2021 when rumours began swirling of a Hollywood takeover. Ryan Rob McElhenney would finally put pen to paper in February 2021, taking over Wrexham and beginning one of football’s most unlikely stories. 

The two men quickly began work on rebuilding the club from the inside out, awakening a sleeping dragon and revitalising the club’s fanbase. They invested significantly in the club’s facilities, as well as the squad, making marquee signings like Paul Mullin and Ben Tozer with the hope of getting out of the National League. 

Play-off heartache would strike the club once again in their first full-season post-takeover. Paul Hurst’s Grimsby Town would deny them in the play-offs, with a late goal from Luke Waterfall denying them a spot at Wembley. 

However, they achieved promotion last season, returning to the league after 15 years in the wilderness, and, as expected, continued their spending spree and march up the leagues. Experienced names like Steve Fletcher and James McClean came through the door, and they currently find themselves sitting second in the league. 

Our run of good form against Wrexham finally ran out when we visited the Racecourse a little under four weeks ago. Goals from James Jones and Elliott Lee were enough to condemn us to our first loss to Wrexham since 2012. 

The team finally got a chance at revenge from the play-off final and the FA Cup, but we won’t have to wait long to turn the tide once again. On Saturday, we can exact our own revenge by securing another victory over our Welsh rivals, denting their promotion hopes and continuing our momentum as we head towards our big FA Cup tie with Manchester United. 

With defeat at the Racecourse still fresh in our minds, Saturday is a chance to shift the narrative once again. Graham Coughlan and his men have a chance to once again steal the headlines and, at least momentarily, stop Wrexham’s Hollywood-inspired march up the table. 

Momentum is one of football’s great intangibles, and coming off back-to-back wins away wins and heading into a dream FA Cup encounter with Manchester United, we are not going to let anybody slow us down. 

So this Saturday, pack the parade, bring your singing voices, and let’s continue our own inspiring story this January.