FA Cup: Newport and Plymouth meet in high-stakes replay

There is a huge prize at stake in tonight’s FA Cup second-round replay between Newport County and Plymouth Argyle, with a trip to Anfield awaiting the winners, with it being dubbed by some as the ‘half a million pound match’.

The winners of tonight’s match, which is being broadcast live on BT Sport, will set up a third-round clash with Premier League giants Liverpool in a match to be also televised live on BT Sport on Sunday 8th January. With £144,000 in television money, and a share of the Anfield gate receipts, up for grabs for the winners.

It may seem an insignificant sum of money to the big-hitters in the Premier League, but that sort of cash is massive to the likes of County and Argyle. It also offers the chance for their fans to enjoy a trip to one of England’s finest grounds, an opportunity that doesn’t come around too often for either club.

The cup tie, and its potentially lucrative prize, is a welcome distraction for hosts Newport, who are struggling at the bottom of League Two. Plymouth, meanwhile, are top of the same division as they look to bounce back from last season’s play-off final disappointment.

The two sides met at Home Park in the initial tie at the start of December, with County escaping with a 0-0 draw despite playing the majority of the match with 10 men, after Sean Rigg was sent off in the first half.

Rigg will complete his three-match suspension tonight and will therefore be unavailable for the hosts, but one man who may feature is on-loan striker Rhys Healey, who has been in the news in the build-up to the game.

The 21-year-old Welshman is rumoured to be the subject of interest from tonight’s opponents Argyle, and County manager Graham Westley revealed this in the aftermath of the initial tie two-and-a-half weeks ago.

Westley himself may be under scrutiny during the match, as he clashed with opposition manager Derek Adams during the latter’s post-match interview. Adams stormed out of his interview after Westley himself refused to leave the room.

Aside the personnel involved, the Rodney Parade pitch has also created headlines, with the erection of a dome to protect the pitch, which plays host to Newport RFC and Newport Gwent Dragons rugby sides, as well as County’s home matches.

The implications of this match not going ahead would be grave for both sides. With the busy Christmas schedule coming up, there would be no time to reschedule the match before third-round weekend, when the winners are due to face Liverpool.

Such an event would mean that the Anfiled date would be put back, and the £144,000 television money for the game would be lost, so everyone involved will have their fingers crossed for tonight’s game to go ahead.

Possible line-ups:

Newport County: Day, Barnum-Bobb, Jones, Myrie-Williams, Tozer, Owen-Evans, Sheehan, Labadie, O’Hanlon, Jackson.

Plymouth Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo’o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Smith, Donaldson, Carey, Jervis, Slew.

Kick-off: 7.45 pm

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