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Two battling performances from both sides ensured Newport County AFC and Notts County played out an entertaining 0-0 draw at Rodney Parade.

The resilience shown by both the defences and midfields of the two sides limited the amount of chances within the game, with both sides actually having their best attempts in the opening five minutes of the contest.

Padraig Amond fired high of the crossbar in the first 30 seconds after encouraging work from Dan Butler and Robbie Willmott down the left-side, while Jon Stead passed up a good chance when found unmarked just five yards out.  

Joe Day was forced into a smart save with 20 minutes remaining to deny Lewis Alessandra from 20 yards, Liam Noble uncharacteristically blazing over the crossbar with the resulting rebound.  

The point sees the Exiles remain in 12th position in the League 2 table and gain on a point on the play-offs to just the six points, while the away side missed the chance to further close the gap on the top-three.  

Mike Flynn elected to make three changes to the starting side that suffered defeat at Mansfield Town in midweek.

That saw a change in each area for the Exiles, as Scot Bennett missed out with the hamstring injury that could see him miss up to eight weeks of action.

Mark O’Brien returned to the defence as County switched back to the 3-5-2 formation that had worked so effectively earlier in the season, while Frank Nouble and Matty Dolan made way to the bench.

Ben Tozer and Shawn McCoulsky made up the remaining alterations from a County perspective, as the Exiles looked for a quick start in order to secure a first win in seven matches from all competitions.

Notts County manager Kevin Nolan also made three changes to his starting side that won at home to Carlisle United on Tuesday night.

Those changes were partly enforced by a flu virus that has been sweeping through the club of late, as Shola Ameobi missed out completely from the Magpies matchday squad.

Talisman Jorge Grant returned to the side in place of the veteran striker, with defender Dan Jones also absent through the same illness.   

Nicky Hunt came in as part of a 4-4-2 system for the Magpies at Rodney Parade, while Carl Dickinson replaced Matt Tootle in the final change.

And the Exiles were almost in-front within the opening 60 seconds.

Robbie Wilmott broke the offside trap to get on the end of Dan Butler’s long ball, before squaring to Padraig Amond in the centre, who fired just over the crossbar whilst on the turn from ten yards.

It didn’t take the Magpies too long to respond to that opening opportunity, however, and they could have opened the scoring themselves after just five minutes.

Some clever work down the left-hand side afforded Carl Dickinson a short window of time to send a cross towards the front-post, but Jon Stead could only send it narrowly wide when attempting to slide in.

Stead found a way past Joe Day shortly after with an instinctive flick from a long ball into the area, but couldn’t breach Mark O’Brien who had tracked the chance well to clear the danger.

A strong save from Day to deny Elliott Hewitt was the only other chance created up until the half-hour mark at Rodney Parade, the contest turning into much more of a physical battle in the midfield areas, with both sides having decent spells in possession.

Route one football almost worked to perfection for the Exiles on 38 minutes, although Amond could only fire over the crossbar after chasing down the long-kick from Day.

Jorge Grant curled a free-kick narrowly wide of the near post right at the start of the two additional minutes added time, although no further opportunities could be created as both sides had to settle for heading back to the dressing rooms level.

It was certainly a finely balanced affair at half-time, both sides cancelling each other out for the majority of the opening 45 minutes with chances at a premium, although there were rare sightings at goal for the two teams early-on.

O’Brien looked more than accustomed on his return to the County defence, marshalling the defence well and ensuring that not too much was getting near Day throughout the half.   

Stead was certainly the stand out player from a Notts County perspective, controlling a lot of the play in the final third whilst waiting for support, although did pass up the best chance of the half when it arrived.   

And the second-half certainly began in a similar fashion to that of the first-half, both teams taking a while to settle back into proceedings at Rodney Parade with another midfield battle ensuing between the two teams.

Exiles captain Joss Labadie did have the ball in the net on 55 minutes following a good corner delivery from Robbie Willmott, although the whistle had already gone for an earlier infringement on the Notts County goalkeeper Adam Collin.

The lack of chances being created in South Wales saw Flynn make a double substitution with 25 minutes remaining to try and turn the game in the Exiles favour, both of the changes coming up-front.

Frank Nouble and Marlon Jackson came on for McCoulsky and Amond, with the substitutions almost producing a goal within 30 seconds of coming on.

Nouble headed on a Ben Tozer long-throw into the path of an awaiting Mickey Demetriou just outside the six-yard area, although the looping header could only rattle the crossbar and drift out for a goal-kick.

Had it not been for another vital stop from Day on 70 minutes then the Exiles may have fallen behind.

Grant again did well to carve out an opening with a bursting run down the left-hand side, pulling the ball to the edge-of-the-area for Alessandra to fire towards the far corner.

Day did well to leap across and get a hand to the attempt, with Liam Noble somewhat miscuing the rebound and blazing it high and wide of the goal.

It was still a tight affair heading into the final ten minutes, both midfields exerting a whole host of energy throughout the entirety of the contest, although neither could as yet create that match-winning moment.

Jackson almost created that golden chance with a smart cutback into the area, only for Hewitt to recover well and block Labadie’s header.

Four minutes of additional time was indicated at the end of the second-half at Rodney Parade, and Notts County twice came close from corners in the dying seconds.

But the Exiles held on for a deserved point in South Wales to halt a run of four successive defeats from all competitions, remaining in the top half of the League 2 table with a resilient display.


County: Day, Pipe, Demetriou, O’Brien, White, Butler, Tozer, Labadie (C), Willmott, McCoulsky (Nouble 64’), Amond (Jackson 64’)

Subs not used: Bittner, Dolan, Reid, Sheehan, Hayes


Notts County: Collin, Dickinson, Hall, Duffy, Hunt, Grant, Husin (Virtue 73’), Hewitt, Noble (Forte 82’), Alessandra, Stead

Subs not used: Fitzsimons, Tootle, Brisley, Walker, Milsom  


Referee: Robert Lewis

Attendance: 3,326 (284 away)

Next up for County: Port Vale (24th February 2018) AWAY