FORMER Newport County AFC goalkeeper Karl Darlow, fresh from a man-of-the-match performance for Newcastle United against Spurs, has spoken fondly of his time with the Exiles.

Tonight will see him return to Newport for the first time since the final match of a short but successful loan spell with County, which Darlow admits helped him to get to where he is now.

When he joined, Newport were near the bottom of the National League, facing the prospect of returning to a part-time status.

However, three wins and three draws from eight games with Darlow between the sticks saw the side escape relegation.

Newport went on to reach the FA Trophy final that season, eventually losing to York City at Wembley.

Now, sitting third in League Two, and having last week beat Championship side Watford to reach the fourth round of the Carabao Cup for the first time in their history the Exiles are preparing to face off against the Magpies - a clash which holds a special significance for Darlow.


"Going there on loan was a massive start to my career and it's just a shame there'll be no fans there on Wednesday night because it would have been nice to go back and see the ground full, and enjoy the occasion," he told

"With us being a Premier League club, it's a big occasion for them and it'll be a nice moment for me, going back there.

"They were near the bottom of the Conference so it was an eye-opener for me. It was men's football, which I was desperate for at the time.

"We scrapped and scrapped and we managed to stay up. It was a really good period for me to find out what it's all about, really, and what men's football means to people, their livelihoods."

Darlow also spoke of how former a County boss, the late Justin Edinburgh, had been a big influence on him.

"I owe him a lot for taking me on, having faith in me and playing me at that time of the season, when it was important for them to get results," he said.

"I really do have a lot to thank him for - and he did an unbelievable job at Newport - so I was very sad when he passed away last year."

County have gained a deserved reputation for their cup performances, beating the likes of Leeds United, Leicester and Middlesbrough in the FA Cup in recent seasons, as well as forcing a replay against Tottenham and reaching the semi-finals of the EFL Trophy last term.