Tuesday, 14 February 1978, saw Bangor City end Fourth Division (present day League 2) Newport County’s ten months long 22 game unbeaten home run to progress to the Welsh Cup Semi Finals. City themselves were on a confidence boosting run of only one defeat from their last 16 outings.
The result was sweet revenge for City player-manager Dave Elliott, sacked by County almost exactly two years previously after only ten months in charge at Somerton Park. Prior to the tie, promotion hopefuls Newport were sitting in fourth spot in the Division 4 table behind leaders Watford with Southend United (another of Elliott’s former clubs) and Barnsley in second and third place.
Newport had disposed of Swansea City in the previous round, a goalless draw at the Vetch Field resulting in a replay, which Newport won 1-0 in front of 6,098 spectators at Somerton Park. Bangor’s route to the fifth round tie was more straightforward as they recorded successive 9-0 wins over Conwy United in Round 3 and Blaenau Ffestiniog in Round 4.
City, looking assured despite a tentative start, took the lead through Cardiff-born Pat Olney. Wearing the no. 7 shirt, Olney latched onto a well-placed pass from Tony Broadhead, shook off a challenge and coolly slid home under the diving Gary Plumley in the Newport goal to give the Citizens a shock 1-0 lead two minutes before the half-time interval.
Bangor always looked dangerous but Newport had their chances early on with 13-goal leading scorer Howard Goddard, fresh from notching a hat-trick against Rochdale on the Saturday, firing into the side netting after intercepting a misplaced back-pass by John McClelland.
City’s leading goalscorer Broadhead was at the centre of the action throughout but missed an opportunity to claim his 26th goal of the season when he delayed his shot after skilfully wrong footing Jones and Byrne in the County defence.
City’s 20-year old keeper Mike Craven also made two great saves to deny goalbound efforts from Brian Preece and Shane Walker. Bangor’s resolute backline repelled several balls hoisted into the area with Jim Smith and Dewi Atherton both outstanding. Olney, booked in the thirteenth minute for dissent, had also gone close with a powerful cross-shot shortly before he put City ahead.
After the break, City grabbed the all-important second goal as Bill Telford netted his 23rd goal of the season with an unstoppable close-range finish after Broadhead had once again prised open the Newport defence on the hour.
Newport’s veteran striker Brian Clark (famous for scoring Cardiff City’s goal in a 1-0 win against Real Madrid in a 1971 European Cup Winners’ Cup Quarter Final) hit the Bangor crossbar with a close-range header from a Preece corner after 73 minutes.
Telford missed a golden opportunity to extend the lead for The Citizens as he lobbed wide of an empty goal before centre back Ron Walker reduced the arrears with a header seven minutes from time.
With time running out for the hosts, Broadhead once again exposed the County defence with a deep pass to Telford who found Olney and the roving winger clinched the win with a hotly disputed third goal for Bangor amid claims of offside from the Newport bench.
Team line-ups (as listed in the Match Programme):
NEWPORT COUNTY: 1 Gary Plumley, 2 Tony Byrne, 3 Mark Aizlewood, 4 Colin Sinclair, 5 Ron Walker, 6 Roddy Jones, 7 Shane Walker, 8 Howard Goddard, 9 Brian Clark, 10 John Relish, 11 Mark Williams.
BANGOR CITY: 1 Mike Craven, 2 Dewi Atherton, 3 Phil Lunn, 4 Dave Elliott, 5 John McClelland, 6 Jim Smith, 7 Pat Olney, 8 Tony Broadhead, 9 Bill Telford, 10 Stuart Mason, 11 Steve Hipwell, Sub: John Hughes.
The match proved a turning point in Newport’s season as their promotion challenge fell away. Colin Addison’ side registered just three more wins in the league that season, all before mid-March, and only collected a paltry four points from their closing 12 fixtures.
Watford, under the late Graham Taylor, would clinch the Division 4 title that season by an 11-points margin, with Southend United, Swansea City and Brentford securing the other promotion spots. Taylor’s Watford would go on to claim successive promotions over the next two seasons before capping a meteoric rise to reach the top flight in 1982.
At the other end of the table, Southport failed to gain re-election despite finishing above Rochdale, and bowed out of the Football League after a 57-year tenure. The Sandgrounders would subsequently be admitted to the Northern Premier League for the 1978/79 season.
Following the win at Newport, The Citizens returned to Northern Premier League action against Worksop Town at Farrar Road on the Saturday. With the fixtures arriving thick and fast, City would also welcome Nuneaton Borough for an FA Trophy Second Round Replay on Monday, 20 February 1978.
Follow City's 1977/78 season exploits exclusively in our special "From The Archive" series in The Citizen - the club's official Matchday Programme.
Updated 13:16 - 20 Feb 2018 by Kevin Owen