IT was another famous day in the FA Cup for all involved at Newport County on Saturday as we held Middlesbrough to a 1-1 draw at the Riverside Stadium with a late goal taking the game to a replay next week in Newport.
It wasn’t a case of a smash and grab draw for us either as we could and probably should have won the game, but we are still in the draw for the fifth round which is very exciting for all of us.
You couldn’t have scripted this game. Matty Dolan grew up in Middlesbrough, supported them and spent 13 years at Boro in the academy, youth team and first team from the age of seven.
He came on as a substitute in the 87th minute and in the final minute of injury time he scored the goal to take the game to a replay and cap a memorable afternoon.
The scenes as the goal went in and after the game were fantastic and they were exactly what the FA Cup is all about. There has been a lot of talk about how the Cup has lost its magic but for me it is still alive and there is plenty more magic to come hopefully.
We worked brilliantly on our game-plan throughout the week and it worked a treat. Even when we went 1-0 down, we didn’t change the plan because it was working and all we needed to do was take that one chance. Thankfully, we did that.
The set plays we worked on were brilliant and we should have scored from at least one of them. It shows the importance of having a good game plan and not panicing, even if you concede a goal. Credit must go to our manager and his staff for our preparations.
We have a massive incentive to beat Middlesbrough at home and make the fifth round but I hope the draw will be kind and give us that added incentive.
The replay will be brilliant for the club and it should be worth a lot of money too which is really important. We are the last remaining League Two team in the Cup and this year the FA have introduced a bonus of £250,000 in prize money to the team from each division who goes the furthest so that is also brilliant.
The likelihood is that the replay will also be on television which adds to the delight to the chairman and the club’s directors. I know the manager will be looking to spend some of that money in the final couple of days in this January’s transfer window so I’m sure there will be some interesting discussions in the coming days.
The replay does add to our growing fixtures list and it will be tough for us in the next six weeks as we play every Saturday and every Tuesday. I am looking forward to the challenge between now and the end of the season.
The league is the most important competition for us but the FA Cup gives massive exposure and financial support for the club so it is important to get the right balance over the coming weeks.
We have two massive league games this week starting with tonight’s (Tuesday) fixture at home to Port Vale. There should be a very good crowd at Rodney Parade to support us and it is very important we continue to ride the crest of a wave and don’t let them down.
We then move on to an away game on Saturday and it is a special fixture for me as I make my return to Grimsby Town, a club that gave me so many fantastic memories and a ground where I just loved to score goals.
It is going to be fantastic to see some brilliant people at the club who were so good to me during my season there but I hope I can be a thorn in their side for just one day.