THE X-FACTOR was sorely missing on Saturday night as Newport County AFC failed to impress in front of the TV cameras in battling their way to a slightly fortuitous 0-0 draw in the FA Cup second round at Wrexham.

County boss Michael Flynn named the same starting XI that had blown away Northampton Town in League Two last Tuesday but they couldn’t match that performance at The Racecourse.

They were grateful to goalkeeper Joe Day, who made two fine saves, and defender Mickey Demetriou, who produced an acrobatic goal-line clearance, as they earned a replay at Rodney Parade.

Substitute Antoine Semenyo could have won it for the Exiles 10 minutes from time but he headed over from close range and, in truth, if that had gone in it would have been harsh on the hosts.

The National League promotion hopefuls produced a spirited display and they will feel they did enough to avenge that 2013 Wembley play-off final defeat to County.

It may be that their best chance of victory in this tie has gone but they can be proud of the way they put off-the-field distractions to one side and took the game to Flynn’s men.

Shrewsbury Town’s search for a new manager has cast a large shadow over this tie for the past fortnight with both Flynn and Wrexham boss Sam Ricketts heavily linked with the League One club.

And the build-up on Saturday was dominated by the Dragons’ decision to instruct Ricketts to stay away from the ground.

A club statement issued around eight hours before kick-off read: "In view of the speculation surrounding the future of our first team manager Sam Ricketts, Wrexham AFC felt it is not appropriate for him to attend this evening's game.

"We will seek to clarify Sam's future as Wrexham AFC manager as soon as is possible.”

In Ricketts’ absence, Graham Barrow took charge and he was assisted by Carl Darlington and former Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

“The performance is a great credit to the players, considering the circumstances,” said Barrow.

“I thought we played the more composed football and the fans were excellent.

“It’s just a pity we didn’t get a result.”

Winger Paul Rutherford was the standout player for the hosts and he was one of many frustrated by Exiles number one Day.

“It was just misfortune,” said Rutherford. “Their keeper had an inspired performance.

“I thought we were unlucky not to win it. We’ve just got to kick on and do the same in the replay.”

Midfielder Bobby Grant was denied what looked a certain goal as Day stuck out hand to keep out his fierce drive 10 minutes before the break.

“I thought we were on top for most of the game,” said Grant, who joined on loan from Fleetwood Town last week.

“Their keeper has pulled off some excellent saves and on another day we would be coming away with a win.”

Day also had to be alert after the break to prevent an own goal by Jamille Matt after a Brad Walker cross-shot ricocheted off the striker towards goal.

And when the County keeper was beaten by a Stuart Beavon chip, Demetriou raced back to volley clear and preserve his side’s clean sheet.

Josh Sheehan went close for the visitors and Tyreeq Bakinson should have done better with a header but the Exiles didn’t have a shot on target until Semenyo replaced Matt late on.

The teenage striker missed a glorious chance when he headed over from Sheehan’s cross and then forced Wrexham ‘keeper Rob Lainton into his first real save six minutes from time.

But County didn’t do enough to deserve victory and they know they will have to improve to make it through the replay and into the next round.

County: Day; Franks, O’Brien, Demetriou; Pipe, Bakinson, Crofts, Butler; Sheehan; Matt (Semenyo, 75), Amond (Harris, 90)

Subs not used: Townsend, Foulston, Pring, Cooper, Collins

Booked: Sheehan, O’Brien

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 5,295 (420 County)