With Andy Sandell the latest casualty added to County’s ever-growing list of the walking-wounded, right-sided Ryan Jackson stepped manfully into his left-back berth on Newport’s first visit to these parts since 1987. The Iron were out of the blocks in a trice and ruthlessly exploited County’s unfamiliarity within a minute of the first whistle; the excellent Terry Hawkridge crossing for the equally impressive Sam Winnall to head clinically past Lenny Pidgeley. For the half-hour that swiftly followed, County were at sixes and sevens as Scunthorpe could, and probably should have added to their tally.
Harry Worley saw yellow for a desperate tackle on Winnall, while Hawkridge in particular was an absolute menace. Hughes made a terrific block to deny him a second goal on 14 minutes, before skipper David Pipe somehow thwarted Winnall four minutes later, when the striker had looked certain to score. Winall again went close on 26 minutes, firing just wide of the upright, before County began to regain their composure and wistfully ease themselves into the match.
Lee Minshull might have drawn parity when he nodded an Adam Chapman cross wide of Sam Slocombe’s goal, before the tireless Robbie Willmott blazed over on 41 minutes following more good work from Chapman. An Exiles change at the break saw Conor Washington replace Christian Jolley in attack, the latter clearly nursing a painful groin injury that’ll see him go under knife shortly; and County restarted the game on the front foot. Just three minutes in, Minshull went closest yet for Newport when he forced a fine save from home custodian Slocombe.
Danny Crow entered the fray for Chris Zebroski on 60 minutes; and within another sixty seconds County were level, much to the delight of their travelling faithful behind that goal. Worley headed Willmott’s deep corner back into the packed area, where an unlikely scorer in Andrew Hughes reacted quickest, whacking the ball past Slocombe to level the contest. The Welshmen sensed an unlikely victory now and Minshull again warmed the fingertips of the Iron keeper, before Hughes nodded another opportunity straight at the relieved Slocombe on 79 minutes. This entertaining clash now seemed destined to finish all square, easily the fairest outcome as County continue to adapt nicely to their new surroundings.
“I think it was a fair result after a poor start from us” explained boss Justin Edinburgh afterwards; “It’s very unlike us to start like that. We wanted to keep them quiet for 20, 25 minutes and then work our way into the game; sadly that gameplan went out of the window after the first few minutes. We lost our discipline a bit early on, we couldn’t find our legs; that is unlike us. But what is like us is the endeavour, the work rate, and the effort we showed in the second-half. We might even have been able to nick it the end, but on reflection a draw was a fair result. We’ve given another good account of ourselves and continued the momentum.”