All attention will be focused on Rodney Parade as Newport County, a League Two team, gears up for an exciting FA Cup fourth-round clash on Sunday, aiming to pull off a giant-killing against Manchester United.
Graham Coughlan’s squad secured their spot in this marquee encounter by defeating Eastleigh 3-1 in a third-round replay. This victory set the stage for a dream matchup with the Red Devils, who previously triumphed 2-0 over Wigan Athletic.
Currently standing as the second-lowest ranked team remaining in the 2023-24 FA Cup, with only sixth-tier Maidstone United below them, Newport progressed through earlier rounds by overcoming Oldham Athletic and Barnet. As they faced off against National League opponents Eastleigh, both teams harbored dreams of hosting Manchester United in the fourth round.
In the initial clash at Rodney Parade, the 10 men of Eastleigh resiliently secured a 1-1 draw. However, in the subsequent encounter at the Silverlake Stadium 10 days later, Coughlan’s team displayed superior skill and strategy, outclassing their lower-league rivals. Goals from Aaron Wildig, James Clarke, and Will Evans secured a convincing victory.
While Newport County has reached the FA Cup fourth round on eight occasions, they have advanced to the fifth phase only twice – in 1948-49 and again in 2018-19, a span of 70 years. Despite this history, the team enters Sunday’s highly anticipated showdown with confidence, backed by their recent impressive form.
Four days after scheduling a match against the Red Devils, Newport surprisingly emerged victorious over the Red Dragons of Wrexham in a contentious League Two encounter, securing a 1-0 win with a Seb Palmer-Houlden header. This triumph extended Newport’s winning streak to three matches and their unbeaten run to seven.
Although Newport currently holds the 14th position in the League Two table, they are now just six points away from the playoff spots. Despite their seemingly unimpressive standing, they have suffered defeat in only one of their last 10 games at Rodney Parade and have gone undefeated in seven consecutive matches.
At Old Trafford, discontent and disappointment have been prevalent since the start of the 2023-24 campaign for Man United and Erik ten Hag. Although Ten Hag’s job is reportedly secure for now, the scrutiny is expected to intensify if the Red Devils leave Rodney Parade with a defeat.
For the third round, a visit to Wigan Athletic seemed like a predetermined outcome, and Man United secured a 2-0 victory with goals from Diogo Dalot and a Bruno Fernandes penalty. However, the nature of their two-goal success was not entirely convincing.
Regardless, any victory is preferable to facing defeats in the FA Cup. Man United boasts an impressive record of being unbeaten in 28 FA Cup away games against teams outside the top flight, with 49 out of 51 such ties, whether at home or away, resulting in triumphs for the Red Devils.
Newport emerged unharmed from their intense clash with Wrexham on Saturday, during which Liverpool-owned wing-back Adam Lewis received approval to start the game after being substituted at half-time in the victory over Eastleigh.