PROUD Newport County AFC manager Graham Coughlan said lesser sides would have ‘chucked the towel in’ after his players gave Manchester United an FA Cup scare at Rodney Parade.

The Red Devils progressed to the fifth round of the famous competition after 4-2 win in Newport, but they had to dig deep after being stunned by an Exiles side sitting 16th in League Two.

United raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to early strikes by Bruno Fernandes and Kobbie Mainoo but County pulled one back through Bryn Morris’ long-range strike after 35 minutes.

The Exiles sent the packed Parade wild shortly after the restart when top scorer Will Evans converted Adam Lewis’ cross from the left.

Suddenly the game was in the balance but the Red Devils progressed thanks to Antony’s finish after 67 minutes, when Luke Shaw’s shot hit the post, and Rasmus Hojlund scored in added time.

Coughlan was pleased that his players rallied to follow their predecessors by making life hard for Premier League big guns.

“A lesser team might have chucked the towel in but I spoke about character at half-time. The lads reacted really well in the second half,” said the manager.

“When you score two goals against Manchester United, that creates memories. That will live with our boys forever. I've challenged our lads to push on.”

"This week has been brilliant. It's our first defeat in eight,” he continued. “The takeover [by Huw Jenkins] has given us a little injection.

“These lads will live with the memories but let's go and make more memories and close that gap in League Two. We pushed them as hard as we could and I'm so proud.”

Coughlan conceded that United were good value for their win after bossing the first 35 minutes and then responding to the leveller.

“The best team won, they were clinical when they got their chances. At 2-2 the ball comes off the post and it fell to Antony,” said Coughlan.

“I did think at 2-2 we could possibly force a replay if we could weather the storm. Class saw them through.”

“You want memories to be successful. I'm a bad loser,” he continued. “There's a real good bond in that dressing room and they represented the club immensely.

“It wasn't to be but I'm so proud of the lads. We needed those little moments and it didn't fall for us.”