LINCOLN City manager Danny Cowley – a man who knows a thing or two about FA Cup runs – says Newport County AFC must enjoy the occasion and play their natural game at Wembley tonight.

Lincoln were the surprise package of last season’s FA Cup as they became the first non-league side to reach the quarter-finals of the competition in 103 years.

The Imps came through eight games, beating Premier League Burnley and Championship high fliers Brighton before their adventure ended with a 5-0 defeat at Arsenal in the last eight.

And, as County prepare to take on the Gunners’ bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the fourth round replay, Cowley knows exactly what challenges the Exiles will be facing.

“That clock seemed to go very slowly at the Emirates. Hopefully the one at Wembley moves a bit quicker,” joked Cowley, whose side also won promotion to League Two last season and beat County 3-1 last week.

“I think it’s really unfair when a Premier League team plays with 15 or 16 players like Arsenal did against us in the second half! That felt really unfair.

“They just have to enjoy it.”

Lincoln held Arsenal until first-half stoppage time last March when Theo Walcott broke the deadlock.

And four more goals after the break eventually sealed a comfortable victory for the Gunners, who would go on to lift the cup in May.

Spurs drew 2-2 at Liverpool on Sunday and they may rest players ahead of Saturday’s North London derby against Arsenal.

And Cowley advised Exiles boss Michael Flynn against trying to contain the Premier League giants.

“You have to go there and try to punch above your weight,” he said.

“If you just try to stop them they will find a way so you have to try to take your game and take it to them.

“Be true to yourself and trust your players to find an extra 10 or 15 per cent.

“And if they can give you that extra – all 11 of them – then you’ll be in the game.

“Wembley is pretty big so I’d imagine Tottenham will be able to move the ball about quicker than they could at Rodney Parade.

“But what a brilliant experience it will be for Newport.”

South Wales Argus:

Flynn’s men have lost successive matches since holding Tottenham to a 1-1 draw in the original tie on January 27.

But Cowley says they can take real heart from their display at Rodney Parade.

“They were excellent,” said the Imps manager, who was watching from the stands.

“They were a credit to League Two and deserved to win the game,” he said.

“I’d like to congratulate them for what they did. They played with great energy and intensity and were really organised and disciplined.

“They were unlucky not to win. They were the better team for 45 minutes, there’s no doubt about that.

“I was so proud of them. As a lower league manager I was just so proud of their efforts and the way they fought for one another.

“Credit to them and they fully deserve their trip to Wembley.”

Cowley enjoyed the match much more than his last visit to Newport when he complained about being hit by coins thrown from the stand during the 0-0 draw against Lincoln on December 23.

“I really enjoyed the Spurs game,” he said. “The Newport fans created a great atmosphere so credit to them for that.

“It was great to be around the people. I love football at this level and when you see that much passion coming from the terraces it’s great.

“It was a brilliant occasion and a really good advert for League Two football.”