IT MAY not have been as significant as Wales’ win over Hungary 24 hours earlier to book a place at Euro 2020, but this was an important victory for Newport County AFC.

Nobody loves the FA Cup more than County, and no player cherishes the tournament quite like Padraig Amond.

The Irish striker has scored in seven successive rounds and it was his goal five minutes into the second half that broke the deadlock against fellow League Two side Grimsby Town before Joss Labadie’s late second settled a low quality first-round replay.

The win means the Exiles have booked a second-round trip to non-league minnows Maldon & Tiptree in front of the BBC cameras on Friday, November 29.

And, having made the fourth round in 2018 and the fifth round last year and made nearly £2m in the process, Michael Flynn’s men are now just one win away from another potential meeting with one of the Premier League big boys.

The starting XI showed how seriously the manager was taking the match as he ditched the majority of the reserve team that had won 7-4 at Cheltenham Town in the Trophy last week.

There were three changes from the original tie at Blundell Park with goalkeeper Nick Townsend replacing Tom King, who had been on Wales duty for the past week, Corey Whitely coming in for George Nurse and Amond recalled up front in place of Jamille Matt.

Flynn felt the Exiles were the better side in that first game on November 9, but they created next to nothing in a dire opening 45 minutes at Rodney Parade.

There was little to excite the fans who braved the cold or those watching at home on TV.

Grimsby were on top but they didn’t force Townsend into a serious save before the break.

Jordan Cook fired into the side netting early on and then headed against the bar when the offside flag had already been raised.

In between those two efforts, Ahkeem Rose flashed a shot across goal and former County striker Matt Green tried to bend one into the far corner without success.

At the other end, weak efforts from Amond and Ryan Inniss were easily gathered by James McKeown in the Grimsby goal.

South Wales Argus:

The referee delayed the start of the second half due to concerns about a drone spotted over the pitch and that was the cue for the game to finally take flight after the break.

The home fans finally had something to cheer about five minutes after the restart as their side caught the Mariners out with a ruthless counter-attacking goal.

It came from a Grimsby corner being cleared upfield, Josh Sheehan picked out Whitely and his first-time cross-field ball found Amond in space.

The rest was inevitable as the FA Cup specialist, who had levelled as a sub in the initial tie, slotted coolly past his good friend McKeown and inside the post to give his side a barely-deserved lead.

That perked up the fans and the team and Ryan Haynes thought he’d won a penalty soon after the breakthrough when his header appeared to hit a Grimsby hand in the box.

Amond then had another chance when he intercepted a back-pass but his attempted flick over McKeown failed to come off, much to the anger of Flynn on the touchline.

Green was replaced by Harry Cardwell as the visitors searched for a way back into the contest.

The lively Rose forced Townsend to save a low drive with 20 minutes remaining, but the momentum was with County.

There was another shout for a penalty when Scot Bennett fired into a defender’s midriff before Robbie Willmott, who did a sterling job filling in at right-back, blasted over from 25 yards.

Inniss then saw a header deflected wide in the closing stages before Grimsby defender Mattie Pollock was shown a second yellow for taking out Tristan Abrahams.

And Labadie fired in off the bar in stoppage time to make absolutely certain of the cup kings’ progress.

County: Townsend; Willmott, Inniss, O’Brien, Haynes; Whitely (Matt, 75), Sheehan, Bennett; Labadie; Amond (Dolan, 90), Abrahams (Poleon, 90)

Subs not used: King, Howkins, Nurse, Maloney

Booked: Abrahams, Sheehan

Referee: Darren Handley

Attendance: 2,053 (93 Grimsby)

Argus star man: Whitely