MANAGER Michael Flynn told the Newport County AFC fans not to bother with this Carabao Cup first-round tie but those supporters who did make the trip enjoyed plenty of entertainment and a fine win.

Four penalties in normal time – three for the hosts and one for County – were followed by a shootout after the match ended 2-2 after 90 minutes.

And the Exiles triumphed 4-1 thanks to two superb saves from Nick Townsend, who also stopped one in normal time, before Tristan Abrahams netted the winning penalty.

They will now host West Ham United in round two at Rodney Parade later this month.

Flynn had suggested that he might not even be at Priestfield, but he was in the dugout at the ground where he starred for the Gills in his playing days and he made nine changes from Saturday’s draw at Cambridge United.

Only centre-back Kyle Howkins and central midfielder Matty Dolan retained their place in the starting XI and there were competitive debuts for Lazar Stojsavljevic, Dan Leadbitter, George Nurse and Taylor Maloney.

Townsend got a chance to stake his claim for the number one spot and he impressed throughout.

Mark O’Brien finally returned from suspension and he wore the armband in a three-man central defence alongside Howkins and Stojsavljevic, with Nurse and Leadbitter on the flanks.

Scot Bennett joined Dolan and Maloney in midfield and Corey Whitely supported Abrahams up front.

Former County captain Mark Byrne started for the hosts – one of three changes that Gills boss Steve Evans made from their home defeat to Burton Albion.

And Byrne's boys dominated the early stages with Mikael Ndjoli, Brandon Hanlan and Regan Charles-Cook terrorising the new-look Exiles defence.

Ndjoli almost opened the scoring in the fourth minute after captain Max Ehmer controlled a free-kick and squared for the forward to turn and shoot just inches over the angle of post and bar.

Hanlan then had a free header from a corner but could only glance it well wide.

The former Charlton front man then saw a low drive blocked by a combination of Maloney and Hawkins before Charles-Cook’s shot hit the post after beating Townsend from 20 yards.

At the other end, County could only muster a neat turn and shot from Abrahams but his deflected effort was easily saved by Jack Bonham.

The hosts took the lead from the penalty spot on 26 minutes as Hanlan beat Townsend after Bennett was penalised for a push on Charles-Cook.

Flynn had seen enough and he withdrew Stojsavljevic and switched to a 4-3-3 formation with Padraig Amond joining Abrahams and Whitely up front.

The change had a positive effect at both ends of the pitch but the Gills still had the better chances before the break.

Townsend was at full stretch to keep an Alex Jakubiak piledriver out of the top corner and he did brilliantly to push a Hanlan header onto the post and behind in the final minute of the first half.

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The visitors started the second half brightly, however, with Whitely cutting in from the left to fire off a shot and Amond almost squeezing the ball inside the post moments later.

And a neat passing move involving Whitely and Bennett ended with Dolan dragging his shot wide as County began to enjoy themselves.

But there was still danger for the defence as Byrne saw a shot deflected behind and Connor Ogilvie glanced a header just wide from the corner.

Hanlan then went down in the box under minimal contact from Howkins and referee Trevor Kettle pointed to the spot again.

This time, however, Hanlan went down the middle and Townsend saved with his legs to keep his side in the contest.

A second goal would have been harsh on Flynn’s men at that stage and they continued to attack, with O’Brien heading over from a tempting Dolan free-kick and Whitely firing wide after creating space for himself with a great touch.

Dolan was becoming increasingly influential and he picked out Amond with a superb cross, only for the Irishman uncharacteristically scuff his shot wide, before curling a free-kick just over the top.

County had the League One side pinned in their own half, but they were reliant on Townsend to deny Hanlan again in a one-on-one after a long clearance upfield.

That save took on extra significance as the equaliser finally arrived six minutes from the end when Abrahams poked in from Dolan’s free-kick.

In a crazy finale, the striker then tripped Byrne to allow Ndjoli to restore the home side’s lead from the spot in the 90th minute before Amond slotted in a penalty at the other end deep into stoppage time after Whitely had been tripped by Ndjoli, who was sent off.

County: Townsend; Howkins, O’Brien (Demetriou, 90+3) Stojsavljevic (Amond, 29); Leadbitter, Bennett (Sheehan, 80), Maloney, Dolan, Nurse; Whitely, Abrahams

Subs not used: King, Haynes, McNamara, Ekpiteta

Referee: Trevor Kettle

Argus star man: Townsend