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The Payne game: Newport County are still finest cup show in business

Stacking up: Willmott PICTURE: REX


THE feel-good storylines came thick and fast out of Newport’s thrilling FA Cup win over Middlesbrough this week.

Robbie Willmott, who ended up stacking shelves in Tesco after being released by the Exiles a few years ago, grabbed their opener. Padraig Amond, relegated out of the league with Hartlepool a couple of seasons back, scored the second.

What, of course, captured most attention was goalkeeper Joe Day running off the pitch to the news his wife had given birth to twin girls.

It is certainly hard not to get caught up in the feelgood factor, unless you are a Boro fan who saw your team beaten on a 1970s-style footballing mudbath.

But how have a side 14th in League Two upset the odds yet again after beating Leicester in round three — not to mention defeating Leeds and drawing with Tottenham last season?

It is not just the pitch, though Manchester City must be at least a little concerned about what they will face at Rodney Parade in the fifth round, even if they can field a team worth £500million in transfer fees compared to County’s £50,000.

‘They can match Championship players,’ said boss Michael Flynn. ‘I don’t know what it is with them. We can play like that but not every week in League Two.’

Burton’s 9-0 defeat to City in the first leg of last month’s Carabao Cup semi-final shows the size of the task facing Newport but, don’t forget, League One Wigan knocked City out of last season’s FA Cup at the fifth-round stage.

And who can wait to see how City’s superstars fare on a surface that some would say looks more suited to a Sunday league game?