“Newport County’s Thrilling Challenge Pushes Manchester United to the Brink: Antony’s Late Strike Secures Narrow Victory”

manchester united

For Erik ten Hag, this was a rollercoaster, disappointing journey, and the Manchester United manager had a candid conversation about the clear lack of discipline in Marcus Rashford and more questions after a long time. Rashford’s absence was evident, not being part of the joint team flying to Cardiff, as Ten Hag revealed an internal matter, stating the forward had reported being unwell for training, allegedly captured at Belfast Night Club a few hours later.

Manchester United

On the pitch, the Manchester United team, assembled at a cost exceeding £400 million, narrowly escaped a bold and resolute Newport County. Positioned 76 places below them in the pyramid, the team comprised of fans and free-spirited individuals from Wexford and wanderers.

Højlund’s goal (watch video)

Newport fell 2-0 behind within 13 minutes, with Bruno Fernandes and Kobe Minu showcasing ruthless finishes almost in tandem.

However, Newport ensured a thrilling contest. Until the 36th minute, it seemed like the match might end as an anticlimax until Bryan Morris’s long-range strike didn’t deflect off Lisandro Martinez’s delivery, injecting life back into the game. Newport failed to secure anything beyond that.

Also read : Manchester United Secures FA Cup Progress with Convincing 0-2 Victory Over Wigan

The last time they came from two goals down? Boxing Day, against the only club struggling against relegation, Forest Green Rovers, certainly not the world-renowned club that had won this competition 12 times. Newport’s manager, Graham Coughlan, a no-nonsense figure who had some involvement in those finals and brought in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during his UEFA B license, reminded his players of the fighting spirit in halftime. Coughlan later said, “We gave ourselves a glimmer of hope.”

Additional temporary stand

That hope was well maintained. Within two minutes into the second half, the makeshift stadium turned ballistic. Newport organized an additional temporary stand for 1,000 supporters, raising the noise levels, and the capacity increased to nearly 10,000. Those who couldn’t get tickets found creative solutions. Houses along Rodney Road, overlooking the pitch from a corner of the compact stand, hosted makeshift platforms for over a dozen supporters to catch a glimpse of the game.

These were the passionate supporters and extended North Terrace people, boasting the best seats at home, who witnessed a blast as Wil Evans, previously tending to cows in his parents’ field in mid-Wales just two years ago, exploded at this spot. Adam Lewis converted a devilish low cross from the left side. Lewis, on loan from Liverpool, who had attended school with Trent Alexander-Arnold, undoubtedly relished every second thereafter.

Suddenly, Manchester United got a jolt, their early buffer becoming a distant memory as the home support cheered every Newport block and jeered every misstep by the Manchester United players. Altay Bayindir, while making a clearance, sent a pass straight out. “Wherever we go, we see Newport County, we make a show,” echoed from the roof. Coughlan remarked, “I thought they were in our heads.” “I was dreaming. At 2-2, they were rattled and doing things that were a bit unnatural. We just needed a bit more magic.”

Newport County’s strike(watch video)

As the warm-up progressed, Coughlan shook his head in disbelief. Moments before the first whistle, Newport players – including captain Ryan Delaney and long-serving defender Scott Bennett, who are also lifelong United fans – stood in line to shake hands with their United counterparts, some even palming them in the queue, playing the home crowd to perfection.

Bennett and goalkeeper Nick Townsend, having tasted the sweet success of a giant-killing here against Manchester City in 2019, were back in familiar territory.

As the kick-off approached, the stadium announcer screamed: “It’s fair to say that Newport is on the map.” When the game paused in the 64th minute for Townsend to receive treatment, Coughlan had the opportunity to get some instructions and encourage his players to push forward. In the following week, Coughlan had stressed the importance of the Manchester United midfield being outmuscled every time.

Morris and Aaron Wildig, the free-transfer pair, who enjoyed a Champions League triumph against Real Madrid, and Fernandes, who signed for a combined £117 million, relished the fight.

Four minutes later, Ten Hag must have breathed a sigh of relief as Manchester United took the lead through Antony. Luke Shaw cut inside with his right foot, sending a shot towards the far post, and Antony was ready to pounce on the rebound.

Manchester United were welcomed

Coughlan later spent a few minutes with Ten Hag, even though the Dutchman didn’t do his homework on the manager. Coughlan said, “He congratulated us and thanked us for our hospitality as a club.” “I just told him to stay right here… what he needed to show in terms of flexibility and character for us to perform in this club, he needs to do the same. I wished him the best.” He handed me a nice little bottle of red wine… but please don’t tell him I don’t drink red wine.

Newport, positioned 16th in League Two, deserves credit, both for themselves and Pyramid, having pushed a team assembled with more money until the final whistle. Newport, a team gathered for a fraction of Manchester United’s expense, pushed them until the dying moments, not ending until the 94th minute when Omari Forson, after Hozelund’s denied rebound, was in the right place without any stoppage-time drama. With one difficult minute remaining on the clock, Newport’s James White saved Bayindir with a fingertip save.

Kaglan said, “My group represents me: I’ll never wave a white flag, and neither will they wave it.”


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