County earn battling point
Newport County AFC battle to a deserved point against an Exeter City side desperate to keep away from the relegation trap door on a sun soaked Sunday afternoon at Rodney Parade.
Justin Edinburgh made 4 changes to the team that lost 4-1 at Morecambe in midweek with Yakubu replacing the suspended Naylor, Pipe coming in for Jackson with Burge recovering from an ear infection stepping into midfield for Chapman and Crow partnering Zebroski up front with Howe on the substitutes bench.
Many fans had a double take on seeing the sprinklers on the pitch and it was County who settled the quicker of the two teams trying to play their pressing game. Zebroski was looking dangerous for the home team firing wide from a tight angle on 9 minutes after good work from Willmott. The visitors were certainly not looking to settle for a point and on loan Bristol Rovers striker Elliot Richards was looking to punish County again having scored for his parent club against the Exiles already this season.
Burge and Minshull were linking up well in midfield as the home side battled with the uneven half of the pitch for the opening 45 minutes and the crowd sensed the County were getting on top after a flurry of corners on the half hour caused the away side back into their own half.
Exeter were always dangerous on the break and on 40 minutes Sercombe's run broke through the County rear-guard before McLoughlin, making his home debut, came to County's rescue. The referee blew for half time with the teams equal pegging as neither team could take control.
Half Time: 0-0
Neither side made any changes at half time and both sides forced early corner before the visitors took the lead in fortuitous circumstances on 49 minutes. A long ball over the top saw Tom Nichols break free down the right. The Exeter wide man cut inside and swung in a left footed cross that Worley deflected into his own net past the shocked McLoughlin.
Within a minute County rallied and a deep cross from Willmott saw Zebroski challenge Krysiak and Minshull poked home an equaliser from 6 yards to the delight of the home fans. Both sets of fans were now in fine voice and the County choir were willing the men in Amber to push on for a winner.
Worryingly Yakubu came off after 54 minutes to be replaced by Holloway for his home debut in an unusual position of the back free for the striker. Two minutes later a corner from the left by Willmott was met firmly by Worley but Krysiak turned the effort over the bar.
McLoughlin then did well on the hour mark to save a long range effort from Oakley as the game began to open up. Jolley then came on for Crow after 73 minutes and Nichols was replaced by John O'Flynn for The Grecians.
County pushed forward looking for the all important second goal and Flynn replaced Burge in the 78th minute but the visitors nearly snatched victory themselves as Richards' effort was deflected round the post by Holloway.
Zeboski created one more chance on 85 minutes forcing a good save from Krysiak as the front man jinked his way in from the right but neither team could fashion a second goal as the referee blew for full time.
Full Time: 1-1
County: McLoughlin, Pipe (Capt.), Hughes, Porter, Yakubu (Holloway 54) Crow (Jolley 73), Zebroski, Willmott, Burge (Flynn 78), Worley
Subs: Chapman, Jeffers, Flynn, Jackson, Jolley, Holloway, Howe
Goal: Minshull 50
Exeter City: Krysiak, Butterfield, Woodman, Bennett, Coles (Capt.), Sercombe, Oakley, Richards, Moore-Taylor, Nichols (O'Flynn 75), Gill
Subs: Baldwin, Davies, O'Flynn, Parkin, Grimes, Pym, Wheeler
Ref: Carl Boyeson