A THUMPING late strike from Scott Twine put Newport County AFC into the third round of the Carabao Cup, finally rewarding a dominant display against Cambridge United at Rodney Parade.

The Exiles will host Watford, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, next week after their pressure finally paid off after 80 minutes.

A glut of chances had been missed and the lottery of penalties looked likely until the ball came towards Twine on the edge of the box and, after a slightly heavy first touch, the on-loan Swindon forward slammed it home.

It was no less that County deserved and it would have been a comfortable evening if they had worn their finishing boots.

South Wales Argus: IMPRESSIVE: Liam ShephardIMPRESSIVE: Liam Shephard

There was so much good about County’s play with midfielder Josh Sheehan pulling the strings from deep and Liam Shephard a constant danger down the right.

It’s early days but Forest Green letting the wing-back go looks to be a questionable decision on this evidence, while Ryan Haynes’ delivery caused plenty of problems down the left flank.

After a strong start by the U’s it was County dominance and they knocked at the door only to be let down by their finishing.

It has been a familiar theme of the early fixtures in 2020/21 and manager Michael Flynn, who is blessed with plenty of forward options, will hope things click in the coming weeks and months as they settle down into their shape and style.

Flynn bemoaned a lack of a killer instinct in their League Two opener at Scunthorpe, while he also felt chances had been blown against the Swans and Cheltenham.

His response was to bring back Padraig Amond, the club’s top goalscorer for the last three seasons.

Given that Ryan Taylor struck at Glanford Park, that was no doubt a touch of rotation in a long season.

The manager made three other changes with Tom King getting the chance to put the pressure on Nick Townsend in goal and Robbie Willmott partnering captain Josh Sheehan in midfield.

Matty Dolan’s knock in Scunthorpe led to Brandon Cooper coming into the XI; at the weekend the on-loan Swansea defender was on the right of the three in the second half but here he was in between Kyle Howkins and Mickey Demetriou.

Cambridge headed into the game on the back of three wins and they made a bright start, with forward Harvey Knibbs to the fore.

His good work down the left led to a chance for Joe Ironside, whose shot inside the box was well blocked by Demetriou, and he went from provider to shooter to have King scrambling after a long-range shot fizzed just past the left post.

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Another chance came his way after 15 minutes when the ball fell kindly in the area but his work didn’t match the first two efforts and he pulled a shot well, well wide.

County were slick in Scunthorpe but hadn’t got going with Cambridge working hard in the opening exchanges to ensure Sheehan didn’t have space.

The hosts’ best moment came in the 19th minute when Amond timed a run nicely down the right and crossed for Scott Twine. He chested and opted to shoot rather than laying off for Willmott only to see his effort blocked for a corner that came to nothing.

However, County had responded well and enjoyed a good spell of pressure to come close to an opener.

First Ryan Haynes, who had fired over with two ambitious shots with his favoured left, forced U’s goalkeeper Callum Burton into a full-stretch save with a right-footer after good work down the flank by fellow wing-back Liam Shephard.

On 24 minutes a corner was swung in and Howkins, guilty of a poor miss at the death in Scunthorpe, headed against the bar and the ball was then scrambled clear.

County kept the pressure up and the rest of the half was one-way traffic with plenty of balls fizzed into the Cambridge box from open play and corners, alas without joy.

Flynn would have been thrilled by much of the approach play – especially from Shephard and Sheehan – but they still lacked the killer instinct that he had demanded.

That was rather summed up by the final moment of the half, which was a tame free-kick from just outside the box by Twine after he had done well to win it with fast feet. Plenty of good but not quite enough.

The theme continued after the break and once again it was Shephard that was the provider approaching the hour but Abrahams slid in and volleyed over with his left from the six-yard box.

Cambridge nearly made the two-goal hero from the Swans game pay with a rare attack that saw a whipped cross go all the way through to Tom Knowles but thankfully, from a County point of view, he failed to connect.

The advertising hoardings were in danger of getting a shoeing from Flynn, Temuri Ketsbaia style, in his new spot in front of the Bisley Stand as ANOTHER golden chance went begging in the 70th minute.

Haynes whipped in a cross but Twine shinned it from six yards out in the middle of the goal.

Thankfully he made no mistake after 80 minutes and that woke Cambridge up with Adam May coming close after a defensive mix-up by County.

The Exiles heeded that warning and came close to settling the tie when sub Saikou Janneh went on a rapid run and hit the side-netting with a powerful shot.

County deserved more than a one-goal win, but it doesn’t matter as they head to round three.

Newport: King, Haynes, Howkins, Cooper, Willmott, Amond (Janneh 67), Sheehan (captain), Abrahams (Taylor 71), Twine, Demetriou, Shephard.

Substitutes not used: Townsend, Baker, Labadie, Collins, Woodiwiss.

Goal: Twine Cambridge: Burton, Knoyle, Iredale, Digby, Taylor (captain), Cundy, Davies, May, Ironside, Knowles, Knibbs. Substitutes: Mitov, Dallas, Mullin, Dunk, Worman, Neal.

Referee: Lee Swabey