Jason Steele goes from zero to hero as Brighton need penalties to beat Newport
Steele was at fault for the minnows’ equaliser – but then saved four spot-kicks in the shoot-out.
Brighton survived a penalty shoot-out at Newport to book a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup, winning 4-3 on spot-kicks after the tie had been drawn 1-1 after 120 minutes.
Goalkeeper Jason Steele, who was at fault for Newport’s equaliser in the final seconds of normal time, made four penalty saves to send the Seagulls through.
Brighton thought they had won the tie when Solly March struck from the edge of the penalty area with just 10 seconds of the 90 minutes remaining.
But Newport saved themselves with the final act in the sixth minute of stoppage time, Steele letting Liam Shephard’s cross slip through his grasp and the unfortunate Adam Webster diverted the ball into his own net to set up extra time.
Webster, though, scored the decisive spot-kick after Pascal Gross, Lewis Dunk and Davy Propper had been on target for Brighton, with Joss Labadie, Ryan Taylor and Jamie Proctor replying for Newport.
Defeat was harsh on Newport’s outstanding goalkeeper Tom King, who made two stops in the shoot-out himself after earlier denying Andi Zeqiri and Dunk with breathtaking saves.
The game took place after Newport had joined forces with rugby side Dragons – who also play at Rodney Parade and hosted Ospreys on Saturday night – to pay for a dome cover to combat the cold weather.
Newport had lost a couple of recent League Two games due to frozen surfaces and the pitch was playable despite being bare and bobbly in patches.
Brighton boss Graham Potter, back in south Wales after a one-season stop in 2018-19, made five changes from the side which shared six goals with Wolves in their last Premier League outing.
But Ben White, who made 51 appearances for Newport on loan three seasons ago, was retained as Brighton sought to claim a first win since November 21.
Padraig Amond should have put Newport ahead inside four minutes after racing on to Dunk’s weak back pass, but the cup specialist who had scored in memorable wins over Leicester and Middlesbrough sent his effort wide of the far post.
King held straightforward Yves Bissouma and Alexis Mac Allister attempts and pushed aside Dunk’s powerful header.
Brighton went even closer after 34 minutes when Zeqiri’s close-range effort at the far post was arrowing in before King thrust out an arm to direct the ball over the crossbar.
Newport had been mostly tamed after their initial burst, but an error from the over-casual Steele almost led to them being gifted an opening goal.
Amond lobbed the ball goalwards but Dunk had stayed alert to retreat on to the goal-line and hook to safety.
Newport were buoyed by that opportunity and forced pressure situations either side of the interval with some dangerous set-piece deliveries worrying the visitors.
It was now more of an even contest than it had been for large periods of the first half, but the Brighton threat was still there and Zeqiri headed over from eight yards.
Brighton also appealed for a penalty when Dunk fell, but referee Lee Mason waved play on and substitute Propper fired the loose ball wide.
King reacted well to tip over March’s mishit cross, but Brighton were relieved to see Steele block Josh Sheehan’s fierce shot before an extraordinary finale in normal time.