A POTENTIALLY money-spinning FA Cup showdown with Manchester City couldn’t have felt further away at Rodney Parade tonight as Newport County AFC fought out a turgid goalless draw with 10-man Port Vale.

The Exiles were hoping to build on their late heroics when salvaging a fourth-round replay against Middlesbrough three days earlier, but they couldn’t break down a resolute Vale, who had James Gibbons sent off near the end.

One change from last weekend saw Joss Labadie come into the starting line-up after loan star Antoine Semenyo was recalled by Bristol City following the Riverside clash.

Nick Townsend kept his place in goal with Joe Day, whose wife is expecting twins, returning to the matchday squad on the bench.

It was Townsend clearance that produced the first chance of the game, and the hosts would have taken a lead inside six minutes but for Vale keeper Scott Brown.

Padraig Amond latched on to Townsend’s kick and looped a shot towards goal that was only kept out by the fingertips of Brown.

Almost straight away, the visitors went down the other end and nearly went in front themselves.

Gibbons was found by Luke Joyce in the County box and should have hit his shot first time, but he cut back inside and fired a rather tame effort at Townsend.

Real scoring opportunities were hard to come by during the remainder of the half, with a very sticky pitch not helping either team shift the ball.

Townsend saved again from Luke Hannant, before Tyreeq Bakinson went close with a volley for County.

On a bitterly cold night, Manny Oyeleke showed some nice touches for Vale and his jinking run forced Townsend into another save.

The final act of a disappointing opening 45 minutes saw Hannant booked for a late challenge on Scot Bennett.

Hannant was replaced at half-time and the man who came on for him, Danny Elliott, almost broke the deadlock within seconds of the restart.

Taking the ball from Harris just inside the County area, the substitute curled a shot that flew just over the bar.

Harris might have got one over his former club soon after, turning to find space for a shot which he directed straight at Townsend.

With no breakthrough looking likely, County brought on Middlesbrough goal hero Matty Dolan for Robbie Willmott.

County needed some inspiration from somewhere as they huffed and puffed without troubling Brown.

The Vale keeper did tip over a looping header from County skipper Mark O’Brien, but it was a routine save.

By this time, Keanu Marsh-Brown had been introduced off the bench, and both he and Jamille Matt, unusually quiet all night, wasted opportunities to trouble Brown.

With five minutes to go, County were given a big helping hand when the visitors were reduced to 10 men.

At first glance, it looked like Gibbons went in hard on Dan Butler but did win the ball.

Unfortunately for the Vale player, referee Neil Hair deemed it too strong and the wing-back endured the long walk back to the changing rooms.

The late County onslaught came to nothing on a night of frustration for the home side and their supporters.

County: Townsend, Poole, Butler, Demetriou, O'Brien (capt), Bennett, Willmott (Dolan 57), Bakinson (Sheehan 81), Labadie (Marsh-Brown 70), Amond, Matt. Subs not used: Day, Pipe, Forbes, Neufville.

Referee: Neil Hair

Attendance: 2,534

Argus star man: Nick Townsend