Newport returned to cup action for the first time since their FA Vase victory at Wembley in May but they did not have it all their own way when they made the short journey to Bedfordshire to face the tough task of taking on an impressive Stotfold side in the FA Cup.
Newport started on the front foot and came close when Shane Bush headed a Kieran Barnes free kick wide of the mark. Stotfold went straight to the other end with a good run from Jack Woods who saw his cross taken with ease by Martin Conway. The teams continued to trade attacks as Danny Webb’s cross was collected by keeper, Liam Gooch. Woods looked threatening and tested Conway with a smart shot that was pushed behind by the keeper. Bush headed over again, this time from a Barnes corner as chances went begging.
Another strong run down the right wing by Woods brought about the opening goal when Scott Piggott smashed home Woods’ low cross [1-0, 27 mins]. Minutes later Jake Watkinson found himself through one on one only to see his shot deflected over by Gooch. The Swans had one final chance when a corner was headed back across goal by Alfie Powell but Gooch somehow managed to save the ball just as Albie Hall was about to head into the net.
Stotfold came out with a lot of determination and almost immediately Piggott shot wide from the edge of the area. Newport responded well and a testing low ball in from Webb was fumbled by the keeper allowing Hall to pounce to score the equaliser [1-1, 51 mins]. It was the Swans’ turn to step up the pressure with Barnes marauding down the left channel, his cross just evading Hall by a matter of inches. Then Barnes produced a delicious diagonal ball to Webb who could not manage to keep his shot down. Just when it looked as if Newport were taking control of the game, Mason Spence popped up with a stunning strike, beating Conway from outside the area to restore the hosts’ lead [2-1, 66 mins].
Moments after coming on, some magic footwork from Mo Ahmed down the left wing almost put Watkinson in the clear. Then, a ball through the middle gave Gooch no option other than to come off his line but he missed his attempted clearance leaving Ahmed with a tap in for the equaliser [2-2, 72 mins]. Both sides produced chances in the time remaining, Gooch redeemed himself with a brilliant double save from Webb and Joe Sutton cleared Russell Short’s shot off the line in the same passage of play. Stotfold kept coming and Joe Ryan produced a good strike from the edge of the area that was tipped over by Conway. Deep into injury time the Swans had one last chance when Ben Shepherd slipped the ball onto Jake Newman who poked his shot just wide of the upright.
The stalemate means that the two sides will meet again at Willen Road on Tuesday night to settle the tie:
Newport Pagnell Town v Stotfold
Tuesday 9th August, 19:45 kick off, Willen Road, MK16 0DF
Adults £8, Concessions £6, U16 £3
Match Report by: Andy Gunn