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Newport striker Padraig Amond fuelled by 2019 play-off disappointment

Newport County v Leicester City – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – Rodney Parade
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Padraig Amond is desperate to erase the memory of Newport’s Wembley heartache after spending much of his honeymoon vowing to bounce back.

The 33-year-old striker was part of the County side which lost the 2019 League Two play-off final to Tranmere when Connor Jennings struck in the final minute of extra-time to end the Welsh side’s dreams.

Two years on, he and several more of the team who played that day will attempt to take a significant step towards a return to Wembley when they face Forest Green at Rodney Parade in the first leg of their semi-final.

And Amond admits those painful memories will be driving him on.

He said: “I got married not long after that and went away on my honeymoon, and quite a bit of the honeymoon, I kept showing my missus this picture of me after the game when I was dejected and saying, ‘I want to use this as motivation to get back to where we should be’.

“It’s a horrible way to lose the game. It’s bad enough losing in normal time, but to lose to the last kick of the game and know that there was no chance to come back is horrible. That’s something that we have, for the last couple of years, been desperate to change and rectify.

“The club is probably better equipped now than it was a couple of years ago, so I think we’re ready for it.”

The game will be the first in Wales to be played in front of fans since Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed, and Amond hopes his nine-month-old son Eoghan will be among the 900 spectators as he and his team-mates attempt to bring some of the joy they saw FA Cup winners Leicester revel in at the weekend.

Amond, whose goals helped County reach the FA Cup fifth round during the 2018-19 campaign, said: “Seeing the celebrations afterwards and how much they enjoyed celebrating with their fans, that’s stuff that everyone has missed for the last year and a half. People are desperate to be back involved like that.”

Interim Forest Green boss Jimmy Ball only arrived at the club last summer to take charge of the club’s under-18s, but he knows what is at stake over the two games.

He told a press conference: “It’s everyone’s dream. Wembley is the place you want to go and play football at.

“If you ask people from Brazil or anywhere, where they dream of playing football, they’d say Wembley. We’re very close, but you can’t take anything for granted.

“I came to this football club for the project, and that excited me – what the club stands for, the way they work, the way they want to play football – and that hasn’t changed. I’m just involved in a different project now rather than the one with the youth team.”