Brandon Cooper: Wales Under-21 defender thriving despite Newcastle penalty miss

Newcastle United defender Federico Fernandez and Brandon Cooper played together in central defence for Swansea City's development side
Newcastle United defender Federico Fernandez (left) and Brandon Cooper (right) played together in central defence for Swansea City's development side

Mike Flynn's response to Brandon Cooper's penalty miss against Newcastle United was to threaten him with a fine for losing a ball.

Newport County's latest knockout adventure came to an end last week when they were beaten by the Magpies in round four of the Carabao Cup.

For a long time it seemed Newport were set to topple another giant, but Cooper's wayward spot-kick meant it was Steve Bruce's team who scraped through to the last eight.

The tie was settled by a shootout, which had reached the sudden-death stage when Cooper, who is on loan at Newport from Swansea City, drilled his penalty high over the bar.

While no blame was placed on the 20-year-old defender's shoulders, Newport manager Flynn saw fit to phone him later that night.

"He was checking in on me to see how I was doing, just being there for me," Cooper says.

"He joked that I might get a fine for losing a football, but luckily that wasn't the case."

Cooper's failure from the spot was particularly cruel given that he had produced a towering display against a Newcastle team which was packed with senior stars.

League Two Newport pushed their opponents all the way, and were on course to progress until Jonjo Shelvey's 87th-minute goal set up the shootout.

Brandon Cooper hopes to follow Joe Rodon by establishing himself with Swansea City and Wales
Brandon Cooper (left) hopes to follow Joe Rodon (right) by establishing himself with Swansea City and Wales

"To take a Premier League side to penalties was a massive achievement for us," Cooper says.

"Jonjo, Andy Carroll, (Ryan) Fraser was very sharp, (Callum) Wilson - to play against those players was a bit surreal, but it was a good challenge.

"Obviously it was a bit hard to take at the end, but I have just got to look at the positives and take out of it that I did well against Premier League players."

The first man to console Cooper after the shootout was Newcastle's former Swansea centre-back Federico Fernandez.

"It was really nice from Fede to be there for me at that moment," Cooper says.

"I knew him from Swansea and he's a great guy."

The Newcastle loss has not detracted from a fine start to the season for Newport, who are top of League Two and have "got to be" targeting promotion in Cooper's eyes.

His own long-term target is to follow fellow academy graduates Joe Rodon and Ben Cabango by claiming a first-team place at Swansea - and playing for Wales.

For now Cooper is part of the under-21 squad preparing for a Uefa Under-21 Championship qualifier against Belgium on Friday night.

As for penalties, Cooper is raring for another opportunity.

"The worst thing I could do is shy away from taking another one," he says. "I am confident in myself."