Dec 13 2010 By Jon Batham
FA TROPHY 1st ROUND Newport County 0 Wealdstone 0
JONATHAN North made a stunning return to his homeland as Wealdstone earned a money-spinning replay with Newport on Saturday.
The Welsh youth international goalkeeper produced a string of exceptional stops to keep the Conference high-fliers at bay, meaning it’s all back to Grovesnor Vale tonight (Monday) kick-off 7:45pm.
North’s fellow Welshman Sean Cronin, whose goalkeeping heroics in the last round at Brackley earned the tie with County, was also at the heart of an outstanding rear-guard at the ground just 30 minutes from where he grew up.
Stones were soon on the back foot and North needed to be quick to race out to thwart Craig Reed as he bore down on goal.
Reed’s next raid left North stranded but the lofted shot went the wrong side of the post, but Stones responded with a fierce drive from Kieron Forbes palmed behind for a corner by Newport keeper Thompson.
However, the visitors would have been behind on 25 minutes but for the brilliance of 19-year-old North who somehow clawed away Ben Wright’s shot which appeared destined for the top corner.
From the set piece County thought they had broken the deadlock as Chris Todd bundled the ball over the line, but he was adjudged to have handled and the effort was ruled out.
Wright then volleyed into the side netting when unmarked allowing Stones to go in level at the break at 0-0.
Jamie Collins and substitute Sam Foley both went close for County at the start of the second half, but the Stones’ rearguard superbly marshalled by Alan Massey stood firm.
And the centre-back might have made headlines with a flick header just wide of the far post.
It was North to the rescue one more on 76 minutes as he somehow blocked Todd’s header from a Danny Rose corner away to safety.
Alex Dyer might have snatched it with a shot just wide late on when put through by substitute Kurtney Brooks.
But it was a case of deja vous in the final minute as another Rose corner found the head of Todd and once again former Watford Academy star North denied him from point-blank range to keep Stones in the hat for Monday’s draw.