FOR once, the giantkillers were tamed as West Ham United proved too good for Newport County AFC.

Michael Flynn’s men gave it everything at a rocking Rodney Parade, but goals either side of half-time from Jack Wilshere and Pablo Fornals were enough to prevent County enhancing their reputation as cup kings.

The Exiles have beaten Leeds United, Leicester City and Middlesbrough, as well as holding Tottenham Hotspur to a draw and pushing Manchester City all the way, in the FA Cup in recent seasons.

But West Ham avoided a repeat of their shock defeat at Somerton Park in 1979 to comfortably progress to the Carabao Cup third round, albeit after one or two scares.

Flynn made just one change to the starting XI from Saturday’s last-gasp victory over Crewe Alexandra with Nick Townsend, the hero of the first-round win at Gillingham, replacing Tom King in goal.

In contrast, Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini retained only giant centre-back Issa Diop from their weekend win at Watford.

But there was still plenty of talent in the visitors’ team with England internationals Wilshere and Aaron Cresswell joined by Colombian Carlos Sanchez, Scotland’s Robert Snodgrass and Argentinian skipper Pablo Zabaleta.

And, in case of emergency, they included Declan Rice, Felipe Anderson and record signing Sebastien Haller amongst the substitutes.

That was just as well, as Brazilian international Anderson was called into action after only eight minutes to replace Michail Antonio when the striker pulled up with a hamstring injury as he raced through on goal.

South Wales Argus:

Anderson soon picked out Creswell with a defence-splitting ball as the visitors carved out their first chance of the evening.

Cresswell squared for Fornals to fire against the post from just inside the 18-yard box.

They seemed to be targeting the Exiles full-backs with Snodgrass soon cutting in from the right flank and providing Townsend with an early test.

County rarely threatened at the other end in the early stages, but they managed to build up a bit of pressure midway through the first half.

The impressive Tristan Abrahams took the fight to the Premier League side and he created a glorious opportunity for his strike partner Padraig Amond in the 24th minute.

Abrahams robbed a ponderous Diop and crossed for Amond, but the Irishman’s shot was straight at Spanish goalkeeper Roberto who saved with his legs.

Mark O’Brien then saw a header from a corner easily held by Roberto before Corey Whitely’s dangerous cross from the right was hooked behind by a panicked Diop.

Matty Dolan’s free-kick was comfortably held by the keeper, but Roberto only just managed to keep out another Dolan effort from long distance shortly afterwards – just getting his boot to the ball before it crept inside the post.

That flurry of activity in front of the North Terrace got the home fans on their feet, but the Premier League side soon showed their quality at the other end.

Only a brilliant tackle by Kyle Howkins stopped Albian Ajeti stroking home the opener from eight yards out.

But the big centre-back was then at fault as the Hammers did finally break the deadlock two minutes before the interval.

Howkins mis-controlled the ball 30 yards out from goal and, before he knew it, he’d been dispossessed by Wilshere who raced through on goal and confidently slotted it past Townsend from inside the area.

That was Wilshere’s first goal for the Hammers and his first since January 2018.

It was almost 2-0 in stoppage-time when Fornals cantered through for a one-on-one with Townsend, but the keeper stood up well and kept the tie alive.

County were almost level nine minutes after the restart when Robbie Willmott’s whipped cross from the right was within inches of being turned in by the on-rushing Abrahams at the far post.

At the other end Ajeti had three chances to seal the win but he repeatedly headed off target from corners to keep County’s hopes intact.

Flynn sent on Scot Bennett and Taylor Maloney for Dolan and Whitely to inject some more energy into midfield.

South Wales Argus:

But moments later it was 2-0 as Wilshere and Anderson combined for Fornals to finally get his goal from close range in the 65th minute.

Howkins nearly made amends for his earlier error when his looping header dropped onto the bar with Roberto flailing.

The 6ft 5ins defender then saw another header pushed behind and Haynes went close with a free-kick before Josh Sheehan blasted against the bar late on, but County couldn’t force the goal that they deserved for their battling display.

County: Townsend; McNamara, O’Brien, Howkins, Haynes; Willmott (Collins, 81), Sheehan, Dolan (Bennett, 64) Whitely (Maloney, 64); Amond, Abrahams

Subs not used: King, Leadbitter, Ekpiteta, Inniss, Collins

West Ham: Roberto; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Snodgrass, Sanchez, Wilshere (Coventry, 82) Fornals; Ajeti, Antonio (Anderson, 8)

Subs not used: Fabianski, Ogbonna, Haller, Rice, Johnson

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 6,382 (1,039 West Ham)

Argus star man: Abrahams