HISTORY repeated for Newport County AFC in the League Two play-off final after penalty controversy at Wembley.

The Exiles’ wonderful season ended in misery after they were beaten 1-0 in extra time by Morecambe for a place in League One.

Sadly, after 49 games in League Two it was referee Bobby Madley that came up with the most telling moment and once again Michael Flynn’s side are left to lament being on the wrong side of decisions in the box.

Two years ago it was a foul on striker Jamille Matt that was missed towards the end of 90 minutes in the extra-time loss to Tranmere.

This time it was an earlier incident when Scot Bennett was clattered by Morecambe goalkeeper Kyle Letheren, who got both of his gloves to the midfielder’s head after he had nodded a long throw wide.

It was in the same box that the Shrimps got their winner after Ryan Haynes was adjudged to have brought down John O’Sullivan, he grabbed him outside the box and the theatrical fall happened inside.

South Wales Argus:

For such a tight game to be decided by that call was gut-wrenching, leaving County to ponder what might have been.

Carlos Mendes Gomes struck the winner after 107 minutes when the Exiles could have got their noses in front after 104 only for captain Joss Labdie to fire over inside the six-yard box.

Now County must dust themselves down to go again, although there will be a number of classy performers that won’t return for 2021/22.

Wales midfielder Josh Sheehan is surely on his way to a higher level while a glut of others will be in demand.

The Exiles might be a club on the up – this was a terrific campaign in which they combined a record points haul since their return to the Football League with lucrative cup runs that were ended on penalties by Premier League opposition – but sadly they didn’t go up this time.

Flynn made one change to the side that started in the topsy turvy clash against Forest Green with captain Joss Labadie returning at the expense of Anthony Hartigan.

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The clash at the New Lawn showed the value of a strong bench and the unlucky AFC Wimbledon loanee joined goalscorers in Gloucestershire Nicky Maynard and Kevin Ellison.

County’s loss at Forest Green, and what a wonderful loss, brought a six-game unbeaten streak to an end while Morecambe also headed to London in fine form.

Derek Adams’ side won five of their last six to push Bolton all the way for automatic promotion and then did a professional job against Tranmere in the semis.

County started with Matty Dolan at the heart of the defence rather than Scot Bennett, who had finished the season in that role but switched to his preferred midfield job.

It was a cagey opening with the Exiles’ first attempt on goal coming when Bennett was first to a Mickey Demetriou long throw but his header went wide, and he was clattered by ‘keeper Letheren in the process.

That could and should have been given as a penalty but they rarely are and the Welsh stopper got away with it.

Morecambe looked dangerous on the break while County’s openings largely came from the arms of Mickey Demetriou with energetic Lewis Collins winning a number of long throw opportunities.

There was a lack of clear openings but Morecambe enjoyed one after 41 minutes when the ball fell to Carlos Mendes Gomes on the edge of the area and he worked in Liam Gibson, whose shot went past Tom King but was cleared by Liam Shephard in the six-yard box.

County finally found some space through the middle in injury time but Bennett’s drive was deflected just past the post with Letheren beaten.

The stopper was called into action soon after the restart when he stood firm to deny Collins after his left-footed deflected shot in the area.

South Wales Argus:

Sadly, that didn’t spark the game into life and it remained a game in which a mistake was going to be key as the hour-mark passed.

Flynn turned to his bench for the first time with Dolan and Aaron Lewis replaced by midfielder Anthony Hartigan and targetman Ryan Taylor.

It was an aggressive move with Lewis Collins pressed into action down the right flank after leading the line for an hour.

King was called into action to keep out a swerving Ryan Cooney effort from distance – a save you’d expect him to make – while County were getting joy out of Collins’ match-up with Gibson.

The Exiles were probing away and Liam Shephard was denied by a fine one-handed save by Letheren after his curling effort was heading for the bottom left corner.

With five minutes to go of the 90 it was time for Kevin Ellison, the 42-year-old coming on for 20-year-old Collins, who had run, run and run in the heat.

County kept pushing and Ryan Haynes was denied by Letheren after a free-kick from distance that bounced just in front of the ‘keeper.

The Exiles had profited from having Taylor as a focal point but couldn’t find the moment of quality to get the job done in 90 minutes.

The first half of extra time was scrappy with County unable to pick up where they left off but then after 104 minutes their best chance came only for Labadie to fire over from six yards out from Maynard’s whipped cross.

That was followed by the opener in the 98th minute, leaving County to chance as they had at Forest Green.

This time there was no stirring comeback, condemning the Exiles to another year in League Two.

County: King, Shephard, Bennett, Demetriou, Lewis (Taylor 61), Haynes (Farquharson 110), Sheehan, Dolan (Hartigan 61), Labadie (captain), Amond (Maynard 78), Collins. Substitutes: Farqharson, Townsend, Ledley.
Yellow card: Labadie

Morecambe: Letheren, Knight-Percival, Lavelle, Diagouraga, Stockton, Wilding, Mendes Gomes, McAlinden, Cooney, Gibson, Songo'o. Substitutes: Mellor, Davies, Halstead, Kenyon, Lyons, O'Sullivan, Pringle.
Goal: Carlos Mendes Gomes

Yellow cards: Gomes, O'Sullivan

Referee: Bobby Madley.
Attendance: 9,083