MATCH REPORT: Hartlepool 2-2 County
Newport County AFC faced Hartlepool United on Saturday afternoon at Victoria Park, with the points shared after an eventful game. County took the lead through Chris Zebroski approaching half time and Aaron O'Connor doubled County's lead fifteen minutes after the restart.
But two yellows in two minutes for Andy Sandell meant County would face the last twenty minutes with ten men. Hartlepool made the extra man advantage count as two goals in the last ten minutes for the hosts meant the points were shared.
The game started at high tempo and it was Hartlepool's Jonathan Franks who had the first chance of the game, his shot pushed away for a corner by Joe Day. Just minutes later Day was called into action again after a deflected free kick was safely claimed by the County keeper.
Aaron O'Connor had the first chance of the game for County as his shot was somehow kept out by Flinders, the rebound found its way to Lee Minshull whose effort was held by the keeper. Andy Sandell was next to have an attempt for County, his half volley was just over the bar. Hartlepool's Jonathan Franks managed to cut inside just before the half hour mark his effort finding it's way over the bar.
Marlon Harewood's first time shot on 36 minutes ended up flying past the upright and behind for a goal kick. County took the lead just minutes later, Chris Zebroski was quickest to react to a short back pass for Hartlepool, Zebroski rounded the keeper and slotted the ball into the empty net to send the travelling Amber Army wild.
With the second half underway County's Mike Flynn had the first attempt of the half as his half volley was safely gathered by Flinders. The Hartlepool keeper was called into action again five minutes later as Chris Zebroski forced a save. Just before the hour mark County doubled their lead, Aaron O'Connor picked the ball up and found himself through one on one, O'Connor finishing well to give County a 2-0 lead.
Hartlepool tried to reply instantly but Joe Day was equal to a close range shot. Then came the turning point in the game, a coming together of both sides in the County penalty area following a Hartlepool corner, the referee booking Andy Sandell and Hartlepool's Scott Harrison, with Sandell picking up a yellow card just moments earlier meaning County were down to ten.
With County down to ten Hartlepool rallied to get back into the game, with fifteen minutes left Curtis Obeng saved a certain goal as he cleared off the line and away to safety.
As the clock reached 80 minutes Hartlepool cut the deficit, following a number of blocks the ball found its way to Brad Walker whose shot found it's way into the top right hand corner. With the pressure building on the County goal keeper Joe Day saved well from Bard Walker with four minutes remaining. But just moments later the hosts were level, Michael Duckworth worked his way into the box and slotted home to complete the comeback for Hartlepool.
Joe Day was called into action again as the referee signalled four minutes of added time, the County keeper saving from close range and away to safety. With the home side and fans pushing on for a winner, County held firm to ensure they didn't leave empty handed and to take a point back down South.