Newport’s Palmer-Houlden plans United’s next surprise

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Written By BBC News

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Newport County's Seb Palmer-Houlden celebrates after scoring a goal
Seb Palmer-Houlden had spells at Chippenham Town and Yeovil Town before joining Newport County on loan from Bristol City.
Event: Rodney Parade, Newport Date: Sunday, January 28 Kick off: 16:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru 2, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport website and app, plus live text
Reflexes: Match of the day, BBC One from 22:30 GMT and later on request

Seb Palmer-Houlden has already been part of a cup shock involving Manchester United, and now the teenage striker is dreaming of inspiring another with Newport County.

Palmer-Houlden, then a 13-year-old ball boy, was at Ashton Gate in 2017 when Championship club Bristol City caused a huge upset by beating Jose Mourinho’s United in the League Cup quarter-finals.

Now 19 and having joined Newport on loan from City, the lanky striker will hope to lead the League Two side’s attack when they host United in their FA Cup fourth-round tie on Sunday.

“It’s probably the most important game I’ve ever played in,” Palmer-Houlden says.

“It’s incredible. I watched Bristol City play Man United when I was a ball boy.

“It was an incredible feeling and it shows that anything can happen.

“[Paul] Pogba, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic: All those players were playing, and the good Korey Smith and Joe Bryan were the scorers. [for Bristol City].

“Cup nights are really special and we have shown that we are strong, resilient and that we can win.”

Palmer-Houlden may only have been at Newport for half a season, but he is right to highlight the club’s FA Cup pedigree.

The Exiles beat Leicester City, then in the Premier League and title winners just three years earlier, in 2019, before beating Championship side Middlesbrough in the next round.

That run was eventually halted by Manchester City, who had to work hard for victory, while Tottenham needed a replay to overtake Newport in 2018 after drawing 1-1 in south Wales.

On Sunday, it will be Manchester United’s turn to swap the luxurious comforts of home for the decidedly more basic surroundings of Rodney Parade.

“We definitely want them to bring in the stars,” Palmer-Houlden says.

“We always want to play with the best players, but whoever plays, we will have a good game.

“We have to enjoy it because these moments don’t happen too often.”

Palmer-Houlden can be sure of getting the chance to take on the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, one of United’s remaining players following their 2017 defeat at Bristol City, having impressed of late for Newport.

He has scored six goals in 23 appearances in all competitions, most notably heading the winning goal as County beat Welsh rivals Wrexham on Saturday.

“It’s probably the best header I’ve ever scored, even though it was a quick move, I’ve hit it at a 6ft 6in goalkeeper. [Arthur Okonkwo],” says Palmer-Houlden.

“It’s the best goal of my career. They [Wrexham fans] We were abusing our fans a lot, so it was the natural instinct to go to their fans and ‘shush them’ and then go to our fans. It was brilliant, I can’t describe the feeling.

“It was a brilliant atmosphere and from the start you could see we were heading straight for them, pushing as high as we could and facing tough challenges.

“Now we can think about Man United and what that brings. We can fully concentrate on it and enjoy next week. Bring on Man United!”

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