Weekend Round-Up: Newport fly the League Two flag
- 29th January 2018
The latest weekend round-up from @_FootbalLab features a surprise FA Cup result, a resurgent Championship club, and a League One thrashing. Check out the five key moments below.
Newport fly the League Two flag
Anyone who dismisses the level of quality in League Two should watch the weekend’s FA Cup performance from Newport County, in their 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
They outplayed Mauricio Pochettino’s men in the first half and created two glorious chances. Joss Labadie, who defended tenaciously and attacked with power and intent throughout, set up a sitter inside three minutes for Frank Nouble, who fired over from close-range.
On 38 minutes though the Exiles scored their second chance. Robbie Wilmott, who was as bright as he has been in League Two in recent weeks, produced a wonderful looping cross that was perfectly weighted to find Padraig Among, who nodded home at the back-post, prompting euphoria around Rodney Parade.
They had to defend deeper in the second half and were denied immediate entry to the Fifth Round due to Harry Kane’s late leveller, but they faced some top level players: Victor Wanyama has starred against Barcelona in the Champions League, Jan Vertonghen has been Dutch Footballer of the Year and Kane is one of the best goalscorers English football has ever seen.
Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele and Kieran Trippier have made impressive contributions to the club’s title challenges of the previous two seasons, while Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli were introduced from the bench. Centre-back Juan Foyth and left wing-back Kyle Walker-Peters, both 20, were among the starting line-up but at no point did Mauricio Pochettino underestimate the hosts, which makes their result all the more impressive.
The question awaiting Michael Flynn’s Amber Army is whether they can replicate that intensity in their play-off challenge. If they can, then two trips to Wembley in one season is doable.
Elsnik, who is now back fit after a spell at parent club Derby to treat his injury, is establishing himself as one of the most complete players in League Two. Not only will he do the hard graft that is expected from a central midfielder, he also has a knack of making well-timed runs into forward areas that are often rewarded.
The teenage Slovenian reduced the areas with a lovely placed finish after a lay-off from Marc Richards, before anticipating a failed Crewe clearance to sweep home and level the scores. Richards, who himself had been a handful all afternoon, tucked home Taylor’s near-post cross to win it in the 89th minute.
Not only did this strike evoke euphoria where there had been uproar barely an hour ago, it was also the 35-year-old’s 132nd fourth-tier goal. Having helped free-scoring Northampton to the title as recently as 15/16, the one-time Blackburn academy graduate’s killer-instinct will be key to Swindon’s promotion chances. Who knows? Flickers might know what he’s doing after all.