NEWPORT County AFC are just 90 minutes from a return to Wembley after edging past Leicester City under-21s to reach the Leasing.com Trophy semi-finals.

Scot Bennett’s first-half strike was enough to seal victory over the young Foxes, 13 months on from the Exiles’ famous FA Cup win over the seniors This victory won’t be remembered as fondly as last year’s but it earned County a handy £70,000 in prize money and TV fees.

And it means they will take on Salford City in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Rodney Parade on Wednesday, February 19, with a place in the final at stake.

Manager Michael Flynn had promised to name a strong side with Wembley within sight and he was true to his word, although there were six changes from Saturday’s narrow defeat at Plymouth Argyle in League Two.

Nick Townsend started in goal, while Dan Leadbitter, Kyle Howkins and George Nurse were drafted into the back four, Matty Dolan slotted into the midfield and Tristan Abrahams partnered Jamille Matt up front.

Full-backs Ashley Baker and Ryan Haynes missed out due to injury, while Tom King, Joss Labadie, Jordan Green and Padraig Amond took their place on the bench alongside youngsters Joe Woodiwiss and Lewis Collins.

Dolan took the armband as he lined up to the left of a midfield, with Robbie Willmott on the right, Bennett in front of the defence and Josh Sheehan supporting the front two.

But it was Bennett who found himself in an advanced position to set his side on the road to victory with the opening goal in the 13th minute.

The young Leicester defence failed to deal with a long throw from Mickey Demetriou and after Matt nodded the ball down, Bennett lashed it home from around 15 yards for his first goal of the season.

He nearly had his second 15 minutes later when he headed over at the far post and Dolan also went close when his free-kick from 30 yards was tipped over by visiting goalkeeper Tobias Viktor Johansson.

The Swedish stopper also denied Sheehan just before the interval after more good work from Matt.

Leicester, who fielded one player – Matty James – who also played in last year’s FA Cup tie, looked vulnerable in defence but they did pose a threat at the other end.

George Hirst saw one effort deflected behind and Vontae Daley-Campbell fired just off target after getting away from Sheehan on the edge of the area.

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And they were very nearly level four minutes after the restart with a quick break after Abrahams’ tame shot straight at Johansson.

Ali Reghba’s shot was scuffed but it dropped nicely for Luke Thomas and he was only denied by a superb fingertip save from Townsend.

Nurse dragged a shot wide for the Exiles, but the visitors were growing in confidence as the game went on.

And they again went agonisingly close to levelling on the hour when Bennett did brilliantly to block Reghba’s shot after another swift counter-attack.

Josh Felix-Eppiah saw another effort blocked and Reghba fired across the face of goal after turning Howkins in the box.

Flynn had seen enough and he sent on Labadie and Green in place of Dolan and Abrahams for the final 15 minutes, with Amond replacing Matt five minutes later.

The fact that County’s big guns were deployed from the bench was a sign of how close the young Leicester side had pushed them, but they hung to claim the all-important win and move one step closer to the showpiece final.

County: Townsend; Leadbitter, Howkins, Demetriou; Nurse; Willmott, Bennett, Sheehan, Dolan (Labadie, 75); Abrahams (Green, 76), Matt (Amond, 80)

Subs not used: King, Woodiwiss, Collins

Referee: Ben Toner

Attendance: 1,357 (49 Leicester)

Booked: Willmott

Argus star man: Bennett