NEWPORT County AFC suffered penalty anguish in the FA Cup against Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday evening.

The Exiles took the Premier League side all the way after Solly March’s 90th minute strike was cancelled out by an Adam Webster own goal from Liam Shephard’s whipped cross.

Veteran forward Kevin Ellison was denied at the death before Seagulls stopper Jason Steele was the hero with spot-kick saves from Josh Sheehan, Mickey Demetriou, Liam Shephard and Scot Bennett.

Here are the talking points from the dramatic FA Cup tie ahead of County’s return to the promotion hunt…


Brandon who?! The loss of loanee Cooper is a huge blow to County’s promotion push but the performance of David Longe-King gives huge encouragement.

There was no drop-off from the recalled Swansea prospect with Longe-King superb against a lively Brighton three that ensured concentration levels had to be high.

This was an incredible first start in amber by a player who was with St Albans City in National League South last season – great covering, solid positioning, dealt with the high balls, no daft risks with the ball at his feet.

He slotted in next to Matty Dolan and Mickey Demetriou and then coped without the influence of Dolan, who was sacrificed in the bid for the last-gasp leveller.

Longe-King suffered a pre-season injury and made a pair of extremely brief League Two appearances against Morecambe and Salford.

As long as he avoids misfortune this week, the 25-year-old is a shoo-in for a first EFL start on Saturday.

South Wales Argus: STUNNING SAVE: Tom King claws away Lewis Dunk's headerSTUNNING SAVE: Tom King claws away Lewis Dunk's header


While Longe-King is a certainty for the XI, manager Michael Flynn has a headache for the first name on his teamsheet.

Nick Townsend has been superb this season and his display at Salford to help earn a precious point could well turn out to be key come the end of the campaign.

Townsend has been excellent but Tom King’s display against Brighton was sensational. He made several tricky saves look routine and pulled off two incredible stops from Andi Zeqiri and Lewis Dunk.

The Wales squad goalkeeper was given a chance and grasped it so training should be fierce this week before Flynn and coach Jim Hollman make their call for Saturday.

Townsend may be better with the ball at his feet but that is becoming a less of a factor as Rodney Parade and other pitches deteriorate.

Whatever the decision, it will be harsh on one individual and County are blessed to have two such good stoppers.

Carlo Ancelotti has adopted an unusual approach to his goalkeeper this season by occasional dropping Robin Olsen in for Jordan Pickford every now and then at Everton, might spoilt-for-choice Flynn mirror that?


While Longe-King ensured that there was no drop-off at the back, Scott Twine’s absence was felt in the attacking third.

This seems a little churlish given County’s excellent, well-drilled performance, but one can’t help but wonder what might have been had the 21-year-old been in action.

Twine scored a wonder goal on his return to Swindon on Saturday afternoon and the Exiles could have done with him testing Jason Steele; one second half opening for Jamie Devitt was perfect for the former loan star.

County have to find a way of remaining a threat just outside the box in the absence of Twine, with the arrival of Jack Evans perhaps allowing Josh Sheehan to push forward.


The fixture list was cruel in December with three long trips to Grimsby, Leyton Orient and Salford but it has been kind this week.

Flynn has given his squad today to lick their wounds but won’t, and cannot, allow any wallowing with League Two being so tight.

“They have until Tuesday morning, if they are not over it by then they can go home!” he said.

The County squad have a bit of a breather before they rally for a pivotal period in their push for League One.

It’s going to be manic with Salford on Saturday, followed by Cheltenham away in midweek, Oldham away on Saturday, Carlisle in midweek, Harrogate away on Saturday.

There’s an argument for the Brighton result being perfect, even if it denied another potential pay day. County enhanced their reputation but can now concentrate on becoming a third-tier team.