‘They keep surprising me’: Newtown boss Chris Hughes proud of historic Europa Conference League win

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Newtown players celebrate after their spectacular European win over HB Torshavn (PA)

Robins were 1-0 down from the first leg in the Faroe Islands – but were fine in the match which was played at TNS’s Park Hall ground, as the Newtown ground failed to comply with UEFA regulations.

Despite lacking the comforts of home, Newtown dominated a side full of Faroese internationals and took the lead in the 35th minute when former AFC Telford United midfielder Henry Cowans, flew home.

It leveled the tie – and with the final kick of half time they were ahead as former Shrewsbury Town youngster Fumpa Mwandwe latched onto a long ball to hammer home.

Within minutes of the restart, Paetur Petersen had pulled one back and equalized – but apart from periods of pressure they rarely tested Newtown stopper Dave Jones.

Former Aston Villa youngster Jake Walker and Cowans tested the visiting keeper and Nick Rushton went close in the dying minutes of the game – but no one could find a winner.

Extra time didn’t allow for that decisive goal, so it went to a penalty shootout – Newtown’s Matty Jones missing the opening kick.

Torshavn’s Ossur Dalbud slammed the post – before Nick Rushton and Ari Jonsson hit both ends.

Zeli Ismail, one of Wolves youngsters tipped for a huge future in the game, made it 2-1 at Robins with a cool panenka penalty – before Jones prevented a tame kick from Daniel Johansen.

Cowans put Newtown up front before Aki Samuelson pulled one back – leaving Mwandwe to smash the game-winning kick and earn the Robins a further €200,000, on top of the €150,000 earned to qualify for the competition.

Hughes, who oversaw Robins’ dramatic victory over Malta side Valletta in 2015, insists his players fully deserved the win, which should have happened in normal times.

He said: “We should have won in 90 and then 120. We created eight good chances, we were leading 2-0, they scored on an error, but they are 20 games into their season with international players and we hurt them and did some work on them.

“We’re so proud, these players keep surprising me, we did it seven years ago, and the spirit they show is great, they’ve kept their cool and that’s for everyone, everyone at the club.”

And it was a fairytale night for Mwandwe, with the youngster, who has been linked with EFL clubs, leaving the club after the game for the Canadian Premier League’s Halifax Wanderers.

“He writes his own scripts,” Hughes added.

“He was excellent. We took him in when he was released by Shrewsbury, he was great for us and we were great for him.

“It’s a fairytale ending for him. He now has a fantastic move to Canada and we wish him all the best, but if that doesn’t work out for him he’s always welcome here.”


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