TANTALISING times for Newport County AFC.

As if last weekend's Emirates FA Cup second round tie at Wrexham wasn't nerve-wracking enough, there's now a replay next Tuesday with the delicious prospect - subject to winning it, of course - of a home tie against a Premier League team.

Ah, the romance of the FA Cup.

While no football fan can deny that his or her club's performance week in, week out in whatever league it happens to play in is paramount, cup football is special.

County's journey to a fourth round replay at Wembley in the Cup last season - beating Leeds and giving Tottenham Hotspur a scare at Rodney Parade on the way - is fabulous proof of that.

The advent of the Premier League, the shifting the fixtures so the Cup Final is no longer the end-of-season showpiece, and a gradual phasing out of replays - soon all drawn ties will be decided on penalties - have served to diminish the FA Cup .

But make no mistake, it retains a hell of a shine. As a lad, like countless others, I followed the progress of non-league teams from the earliest qualifying rounds, perusing inky newspaper sports columns.

When what used to termed the 'first round proper' arrived, I followed the glee the exploits of those who had fought through those qualifying rounds to earn a chance of a giant-killing.

And as the competition progressed, I was thrilled by the feats of minnows - non-league and, as they were known back then, third and fourth division teams - who sometimes progressed to the fourth, fifth, sixth rounds at the expense of their moneyed 'betters'.

I still do - and I know I'm not alone - and Tuesday's replay is the latest instalment in a lifetime's fascination with a fantastic competition.

Here's hoping County can set up another great Cup showpiece.