Newport County’s remarkable FA Cup odyssey may have ended on Saturday but a 4-1 defeat didn’t stop Irish striker Pádraig Amond from leaving the pitch with a pep in his step.
With minutes remaining, the League Two outfit looked on course for an honourable 2-0 defeat to Premier League champions Manchester City when Amond halved the deficit, sparking hopes of an extraordinary cup upset.
However, City bared their teeth in response, scoring twice before the final whistle.
Though disappointed to lose, Amond’s spirits were quickly lifted when City boss Pep Guardiola sought him out to offer his congratulations.
“I’m disappointed that we’ve lost the game and we’re out of the cup, but in years to come that’s going to be something I’m very proud of,” Amond said.
“I’ve scored against the best team in Europe. Pep came over after the game and congratulated me that I’d scored, and when you hear that from someone like him it means a lot.
“It’s been a great run, you have kids wanting to play for Newport County and maybe before that they wanted to play for Cardiff, Bristol, Swansea.
“The club can be very proud to inspire a new generation.”
In the Championship, James McClean cashed in on an almighty defensive howler to put Stoke on course for victory at rock-bottom Ipswich.
However, his joy turned to frustration in stoppage time when an outswinging corner from Alan Judge was headed to the net to rescue a 1-1 draw for the Tractor Boys.
McClean’s fate also befell Richie Towell after the former Dundalk man put Rotherham on course for 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday only for the Owls to rescue a point right at the death.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Martin O’Neill’s Nottingham Forest drew 0-0 at Preston.
In League One, the fifth hat-trick of Simon Cox’s career rescued a Southend side who had been 3-0 down.
Mark Byrne scored the winner as Gillingham beat Scunthorpe 1-0 while Paddy Madden was on the mark for Fleetwood who lost 2-1 at home to Luton.