Newport are back in the Football League after 25 years following a tense 2-0 victory over Wrexham in the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final at Wembley.

County, who reformed in 1989 after the original club folded because of financial difficulties, join Mansfield in returning to the fourth tier.

Wrexham dominated the opening period but failed to take several chances.

Christian Jolley made the Dragons pay four minutes from time, before Aaron O'Connor added a second in injury time.

Newport's amazing journey

This was only Newport's second season as a full-time outfit and only their third season in the Conference.

They had slowly but surely climbed the English pyramid since reforming in 1989 after the original club folded amid financial ruin a year after relegation from the Football League.

Wrexham will consider themselves unlucky to lose this all-Welsh encounter, their third successive failure in the play-offs, but only have themselves to blame after missing several opportunities in front of a crowd of 16,346.

Having negotiated the semi-finals with few alarms, both managers stuck with the old adage of not changing a winning side.

It was a more straightforward choice for Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell, whose squad had been disrupted by a string of late-season injuries, most notably for leading goalscorer Danny Wright.

Justin Edinburgh, though, resisted the temptation to start with Newport's top scorer O'Connor.

This was billed as a battle between the league's best midfield against the most potent strike force, and that is exactly what transpired.

Wrexham's compact middle three of Dean Keates, Jay Harris and Joe Clarke dictated patient build-up play, as Newport struggled for possession and support.

Three is the magic number

Newport County's triumph at Wembley is the sixth time that the team finishing third in the Conference has prevailed in the play-off final

The Dragons targeted the space behind Newport's wing-backs, and it brought the first real opening when 36-year-old Brett Ormerod, a Championship play-off final scorer with Blackpool, cut inside from the right but dragged his effort wide of the near post.

He then fired over from Johnny Hunt's cross before again threatening Newport's goal with a 25-yard fizzer.

Down at the other end, Jolley, who came into the game with five goals in six games, was a spectator as Wrexham's first-half dominance gathered momentum.

But the striker showed his class moments before the break when his left-footed curler narrowly missed the top corner.

Wrexham goalkeeper Maxwell was then perfectly placed to gather Lee Minshull's flick as Newport finally gave their outnumbered fans some encouragement.

Those opportunities woke the Newport players from their slumber, too, as they returned after the interval with more vigour and belief, helping to raise the tempo of a game that had begun to amble along.

Wrexham responded to the challenge and Ormerod should have broken the deadlock, blasting wildly over from six yards after Morrell's initial effort had been saved.

Hunt's drive was then palmed away at full stretch by the alert Newport keeper Lenny Pidgeley.

Edinburgh turned to O'Connor in search of a spark, replacing the ineffectual Danny Crow, while the tiring Morrell replaced himself with pacy winger Adrian Cieslewicz.

Edinburgh loves Wembley

Newport manager Justin Edinburgh certainly loves Wembley, having won the FA Cup and League Cup with Tottenham Hotspur as a player.

Marin Riley hardly put a foot wrong or lost a challenge and the centre-back produced the block of the match to deny Jolley.

But the striker was not to be denied as he struck four minutes from time. David Artell could only head a long ball towards his own goal and Jolley latched on to it in a flash before coolly lifting the ball over the on-rushing Chris Maxwell.

Newport then stood up to Wrexham's late aerial bombardment into the box in stoppage time.

But a counter-attack left the defence exposed once more and O'Connor, on the second attempt, fired into the roof of the net to put the result beyond doubt in front of the ecstatic County fans.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (5)

Wrexham

  • 24 Maxwell
  • 02 Wright
  • 03 Ashton
  • 06 Riley
  • 32 Artell
  • 08 Harris (Adebola - 88' )
  • 12 Keates (Little - 80' )
  • 14 Clarke
  • 16 Hunt
  • 10 Ormerod Booked
  • 11 Morrell (Cieslewicz - 68' )

Substitutes

  • 13 Coughlin
  • 23 Westwood
  • 07 Cieslewicz
  • 17 Little
  • 31 Adebola

Newport County

  • 40 Pidgeley
  • 05 James
  • 06 Yakubu
  • 21 Anthony
  • 02 Pipe
  • 08 Minshull
  • 13 Sandell
  • 17 Flynn (Donnelly - 74' )
  • 23 Jolley
  • 30 Gilbey Booked
  • 09 Crow (O'Connor - 62' Booked )

Substitutes

  • 01 Julian
  • 03 Hughes
  • 24 Willmott
  • 26 Donnelly
  • 07 O'Connor
Ref: Ball
Att: 16,346

Match Stats

Shots

14 14

On target

5 9

Corners

7 1

Fouls

10 15

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +5:22 Full time

Full Time The referee ends the match.

90:00 +4:37 Booking

Booking Aaron O'Connor booked.

90:00 +3:30

Assist by Christian Jolley.

90:00 +3:30 Goal scored

Goal! - Aaron O'Connor - Wrexham 0 - 2 Newport Aaron O'Connor finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the box to the top right corner of the goal. Wrexham 0-2 Newport County.

90:00 +3:23

Aaron O'Connor takes a shot. Save made by Chris Maxwell.

90:00 +2:51

Brett Ormerod takes a shot. Save made by Lenny Pidgeley.

90:00 +2:09

Corner taken by Joe Clarke, save by Lenny Pidgeley. Adrian Cieslewicz takes a shot. Lee Minshull gets a block in.

90:00 +1:55

Christian Jolley is caught offside. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Wright.

90:00 +0:48

Corner taken by Johnny Hunt, Scott Donnelly makes a clearance.

89:08

Corner taken by Johnny Hunt from the right by-line, save by Lenny Pidgeley.

88:41

Foul by Lee Minshull on Joe Clarke, free kick awarded. Neil Ashton takes the direct free kick.

87:56 Substitution

Substitution Jay Harris leaves the field to be replaced by Dele Adebola.

85:42

Assist on the goal came from Byron Anthony.

85:42 Goal scored

Goal! - Christian Jolley - Wrexham 0 - 1 Newport Christian Jolley scores a goal from inside the six-yard box high into the middle of the goal. Wrexham 0-1 Newport County.

82:29

Headed effort from inside the area by Christian Jolley misses to the right of the goal.

80:36

Jay Harris challenges Alex Gilbey unfairly and gives away a free kick. Tony James takes the direct free kick.

79:56

Jay Harris produces a right-footed shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.

79:05

Chris Maxwell takes the free kick.

79:05 Substitution

Substitution Glen Little on for Dean Keates.

79:05 Booking

Booking The referee cautions Alex Gilbey for unsporting behaviour.

78:29

Alex Gilbey gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adrian Cieslewicz.

75:49

Unfair challenge on Martin Riley by Lee Minshull results in a free kick. Chris Maxwell takes the direct free kick.

73:25

Chris Maxwell restarts play with the free kick.

73:25 Substitution

Substitution Michael Flynn leaves the field to be replaced by Scott Donnelly.

73:25

The assistant referee signals for offside against Christian Jolley.

71:22

Foul by Christian Jolley on Stephen Wright, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed by Johnny Hunt, save made by Lenny Pidgeley.

67:47 Substitution

Substitution Andrew Morrell goes off and Adrian Cieslewicz comes on.

66:09

Alex Gilbey takes a shot. Jay Harris gets a block in.

63:40

Andy Sandell takes the free kick.

63:40 Booking

Booking Brett Ormerod is cautioned.

63:20

Foul by Brett Ormerod on Byron Anthony, free kick awarded.

62:46

Johnny Hunt takes a shot. Save made by Lenny Pidgeley.

61:40 Substitution

Substitution Aaron O'Connor on for Danny Crow.

61:40

Effort on goal by Christian Jolley from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.

58:54

Andrew Morrell takes a shot. Save made by Lenny Pidgeley. Brett Ormerod takes a shot from inside the six-yard box clearing the crossbar.

56:35

Joe Clarke has an effort at goal from long range that misses to the right of the goal.

54:36

Headed effort from inside the area by Brett Ormerod misses to the right of the target. Inswinging corner taken by Johnny Hunt, Lenny Pidgeley makes a save. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Johnny Hunt, clearance made by Lee Minshull.

53:57

Byron Anthony concedes a free kick for a foul on Andrew Morrell. Stephen Wright takes the free kick.

53:25

Danny Crow takes a shot. Blocked by Martin Riley.

50:09

Andrew Morrell gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Byron Anthony. Tony James takes the direct free kick.

49:05

Johnny Hunt concedes a free kick for a foul on Alex Gilbey. Andy Sandell takes the free kick. Danny Crow takes a shot. Save made by Chris Maxwell.

47:58

Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Flynn on Jay Harris. Direct free kick taken by Neil Ashton.

46:39

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Johnny Hunt played to the near post, clearance made by David Pipe.

46:05

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stephen Wright by Andy Sandell. Chris Maxwell takes the direct free kick.

45:35

Foul by Andrew Morrell on Lenny Pidgeley, free kick awarded. Lenny Pidgeley takes the direct free kick.

45:01

The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.

45:00 +0:58 Half time

Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.

43:52

Foul by Stephen Wright on Danny Crow, free kick awarded. Andy Sandell takes the free kick. Lee Minshull takes a shot. Save made by Chris Maxwell.

43:11

Shot by Christian Jolley from deep inside the penalty area misses wide to the left of the target.

41:38

Martin Riley gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Danny Crow. Free kick taken by David Pipe.

40:16

Michael Flynn takes a shot. Save by Chris Maxwell.

38:46

Johnny Hunt fouled by Alex Gilbey, the ref awards a free kick. Neil Ashton restarts play with the free kick.

36:53

Unfair challenge on Andy Sandell by Jay Harris results in a free kick. Michael Flynn delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, Chris Maxwell makes a comfortable save.

36:11

Brett Ormerod has a shot on goal from long range that goes wide left.

33:14

Brett Ormerod has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the goal.

31:21

Brett Ormerod fouled by Andy Sandell, the ref awards a free kick. Johnny Hunt crosses the ball in from the free kick, Lenny Pidgeley fouled by Stephen Wright, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Lenny Pidgeley.

29:24

Effort on goal by Joe Clarke from long distance goes over the crossbar.

24:57

Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Jay Harris from the right by-line.

24:09

Dean Keates takes a shot. Byron Anthony gets a block in. Tony James concedes a free kick for a foul on Brett Ormerod. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Johnny Hunt from right channel.

21:33

Brett Ormerod produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.

19:47

Free kick awarded for a foul by Christian Jolley on Martin Riley. Direct free kick taken by Martin Riley.

19:12

Shot from a long way out by Andy Sandell goes wide of the left-hand post.

18:33

Shot by Andy Sandell from a long way out goes over the target.

15:47

Brett Ormerod has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the goal.

13:05

Corner taken right-footed by Michael Flynn, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Martin Riley by Ismail Yakubu. Free kick taken by Chris Maxwell.

11:36

Foul by Byron Anthony on Brett Ormerod, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Neil Ashton.

8:31

Foul by Christian Jolley on Martin Riley, free kick awarded. Dean Keates takes the free kick.

5:32

Lee Minshull concedes a free kick for a foul on Stephen Wright. Chris Maxwell takes the free kick.

5:15

The assistant referee signals for offside against Andrew Morrell. Lenny Pidgeley takes the free kick.

4:10

Unfair challenge on Lee Minshull by Dean Keates results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Lee Minshull.

3:14

Michael Flynn takes a shot. Save made by Chris Maxwell.

0:00

The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.

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