Welsh Cup First Qualifying Round
Newport City suffered a disappointing early exit from this season’s Welsh Cup following a battling encounter at Gwent rivals Panteg AFC. The game proved to be a scrappy affair as they attempted to adjust themselves in difficult conditions.
In what was a fairly even start to the game, the first serious chance came in the 11th minute when Panteg’s Dwain Hunt contrived to tap wide of goal from five yards out following a whipped cross from the right hand side. That miss seemed to spark the hosts into life as they went on to build up momentum and managed to win a free kick in a dangerous position, centrally on the edge of the penalty area in the 18th minute. The resulting free kick was smashed straight into the wall by Hunt, however his strike on the rebound managed to fall kindly into the path of Jordan Ryan who slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net to put the hosts in front.
City almost responded soon after as Nick Simock saw a close range header grasped by Panteg ‘keeper Mark Randell. Ryan then sent a looping header over the bar for the hosts just a couple of minutes later after connecting on to a left side cross. The windy conditions caused havoc as a long range free kick delivery from Panteg almost sailed its way past Cropper. The conditions also played a part at the other end where a corner delivery from Richard Yarr almost flew straight into the top right hand corner before Randell managed to pluck it to safety. The hosts almost doubled the lead in the 40th minute after a thumping strike by Ben Walker from just outside the area was superbly tipped over the bar by Cropper.
City started the second half very brightly and almost levelled the score in the 50th minute when Benardin Fetahi was through clear on goal inside the area but saw his low shot tipped away by Randell. Panteg almost scored themselves three minutes later when Cropper was again called into action as he turned away a close range low right hand shot by Hunt. The Steelmen upped the pressure and almost equalised through Fetahi again in the 68th minute, but the Italian sent a strike over the bar from the centre of the area after connecting on to a superb right side cross from substitute Jake Buckley.
Panteg almost sealed the game with ten minutes left but Cropper was on hand once again to keep City in the game with a brilliant block from a close range strike, whilst the host also fired an effort narrowly wide of the left hand post shortly after. The Steelmen had a big shout for a penalty turned down in the 85th minute when substitute Aaron Carew was seemingly on the receiving end of a heavy tackle inside the area, but the referee waved away the visitors’ appeals. City continued to push forward and came agonisingly close to equalising in the 91st minute when Martin Mickiewicz delivered a cross that saw the ball travel across the goal line but was booted away by the Panteg defence in a last minute goal line clearance. Three minutes later the game was over as the hosts hit City on the counter attack and fed the ball inside the area to an unmarked Dwain Hunt who made no mistake as he blasted the ball into the left hand side of the net to seal Panteg’s progression into the next round of the Welsh Cup.
Although it was a disappointing day for Newport City, they will take heart from a strong second half display and will feel aggrieved not to have secured at least a replay. While their Welsh Cup dreams are over, City must now turn their attention to their home Welsh League Cup encounter against local rivals Risca United on Wednesday night as they aim to avoid another early cup exit.