NEWPORT County AFC were denied another FA Cup scalp after losing on penalties to Premier League Brighton at Rodney Parade.

Seagulls goalkeeper Jason Steele, who gifted the Exiles a late leveller in normal time, turned from villain to hero when stopping penalties from Josh Sheehan, Mickey Demetriou, Liam Shephard and Scot Bennett.

Adam Webster, who had deflected into his net, slotted for a 4-3 shootout success that avoided embarrassment for Brighton.

County took Newcastle to spot kicks in the Carabao Cup in September and repeated the trick in the more prestigious knockout competition after late drama.

Solly March’s well-placed shot in the 90th minute looked set to put the Seagulls into the fourth round only for the Exiles, who have scored in every League Two fixture this season, to level at the death.

South Wales Argus:

Liam Shephard crossed from the right, goalkeeper Steele flapped and the ball went in off defender Webster.

Veteran forward Kevin Ellison was denied by a brilliant block in the last minute of extra time, leading to penalties, and ultimately agony.

There were 52 clubs between the sides but County, second in League Two, gave as good as they got.

Goalkeeper Tom King produced some sensational saves but the hosts were disciplined, well-drilled and had ‘if only’ moments of their own.

Padraig Amond, who had previously scored against Spurs, Leicester and Manchester City, went agonisingly close twice in the first half.

The Irishman failed to get enough curl on one early shot after intercepting a poor back pass and then saw a lofted effort cleared off the line by Lewis Dunk.

Late on it was Josh Sheehan who was denied by a smart save by Steele before the even later drama.

Flynn will look back at with pride at a performance that can give a boost to their League Two promotion push – the performance of David Longe-King against Premier League opposition on his full debut was especially noteworthy.

South Wales Argus:

Newport hadn’t played since the Boxing Day draw at Crawley and Michael Flynn was forced into two changes after influential loanees Brandon Cooper and Scott Twine were recalled by Swansea and Swindon respectively.

Longe-King made his full debut in defence after a pair of very brief League Two cameos, one as a makeshift striker, and on-loan Blackpool midfielder Jamie Devitt was promoted to the XI.

Wales squad goalkeeper King started ahead of league number one Nick Townsend – as he did against Salford in round two – while cup specialist Amond got the nod up front in the absence of Tristan Abrahams.

Brighton made five changes and fielded a strong side that included County favourite Ben White, who made 51 appearances on loan at Rodney Parade in 2017/18.

Former Swansea boss Graham Potter would have been hunting a win and performance to give the Seagulls a lift ahead of a tough week in their battle against Premier League relegation featuring trips to Manchester City and Leeds.

Yet the big guns should have been chasing after three minutes when central defender Lewis Dunk under hit his back pass but Amond failed to get enough curl and his shot went pass Jason Steele’s left post.

Brighton’s lively front three meant that defensive concentration levels had to be high while County were, predictably, failing to dominate possession as they do on a weekly basis in League Two.

Nonetheless, it was 15 minutes until King was called into action and Yves Bissouma’s long-range nastily-dipping effort was dealt with by the stopper.

County were defending well with Scot Bennett doing some impressive shielding work in front of the central trio.

Brighton had a pair of good openings either side of the half hour but King did well on both occasions.

South Wales Argus:

First he kept out Dunk’s powerful header from a Pascal Gross corner, although it was a nice height, and then he showed good handling to hold onto Alexis Mac Allister’s low drive from the penalty spot.

Two became three on 34 minutes with the pick of the bunch, the ‘keeper producing a stunning save with his right hand to divert the ball over the bar when a corner fell to Andi Zeqiri at the far post.

One stopper was performing heroics and the other was a lucky boy – Steele made a complete mess of a back pass and was relieved that Dunk was able to get back and clear Amond’s acrobatic effort off the line.

County, who had been forced into a change with club captain Joss Labadie replacing Robbie Willmott, finished the half strongly with Matty Dolan’s delivery from set pieces causing a few problems and it was goalless at the break.

Newport were the better side at the start of the second half yet it was Brighton that had the first real opening, Zeqiri heading over from White’s cross.

The Seagulls had been a little wasteful in possession, giving the Exiles a sniff when overplaying in the middle third.

There was little sign of two divisions between the teams as the game passed the hour with the Premier League team unable to build any dominance.

Flynn turned to his bench with fit-again striker Ryan Taylor replacing Amond and academy graduate Lewis Collins on for Devitt.

Brighton had a chance to break the deadlock after 69 minutes when, after Dunk fell in the box, the ball fell to substitute Davy Propper but he couldn’t hit the target with his left foot.

The pressure was building but County were so close to a sucker punch when Ryan Taylor caused problems in the box and the ball fell to playmaker Josh Sheehan only for Steele to save smartly from the Wales international.

Then came the late drama that saw March seemingly become the hero only for Webster’s misfortune to lead to 30 minutes King produced another stunning save soon after the resumption, clawing away Dunk’s powerful header with his left hand.

County were a little unbalanced courtesy of late changes when Flynn rolled the dice but hung on against a Brighton side unable to create any clear openings, with Ellison going closest at the death when denied by Dunk.

County: King, Longe-King, Dolan (Proctor 90), Demetriou, Shephard, Haynes, Bennett, Sheehan (captain), Willmott (Labadie 38), Devitt (Collins 61, Ellison 90), Amond (Taylor 61).
Substitutes: Townsend, Howkins, Baker, Evans.
Goal: Webster OG

Brighton: Steele, White, Webster, Dunk (captain), Bissouma, Maupay, Mac Allister, Gross, Jahanbakhsh, March, Zeqiri.
Substitutes: Sanchez, Trossard, Tau, Propper, Bernardo, Veltman, Sanders, Jenks, Khadra.
Goal: March

Referee: Lee Mason