Newport County AFC started their preparations for the 2018/19 campaign with a testing 2-2 draw against Championship side Bristol City.
Padraig Amond and Josh Sheehan both opened their accounts for the pre-season schedule when finding the net inside 10 minutes, before the scoring was complete inside the first-half following smart finishes from Andreas Weimann and Marley Watkins.
Mike Flynn elected to name a strong side as the Exiles started their preparations for the 2018/19 campaign with their first pre-season fixture.
Keanu Marsh-Brown, Andrew Crofts, Tyler Forbes and Fraser Franks all wore the amber of County for the first time, as the Exiles lined up in a 4-2-1-3 formation in Bristol.
Dan Butler and Mickey Demetriou were also part of the defence, Josh Sheehan and Matty Dolan helped make up the midfield system, while Padraig Amond and Robbie Willmott were in attacking positions. Joe Day was between the sticks.
In a quick-start by the Exiles in Bristol, Padraig Amond opened his account for the pre-season schedule when finishing off a free-flowing move after just seven minutes.
Joe Day’s headed clearance found Dan Butler out-wide, who in turn fed the ball to Josh Sheehan in the middle. His looping pass behind the two centre-halves was inch perfect for Amond, with the Irishman embodying calmness personified when bringing the ball down and rifling it into the roof of the net.
Three minutes later, County were two goals to the good after another quick breakaway.
Amond was again involved, this time linking perfectly with Keanu Marsh-Brown on the left-hand side to feed the ball to the onrushing Sheehan just outside the area.
The 23-year old did the rest, using his first touch to take it past Aden Baldwin and create some space, firing a shot into the bottom left corner past the helpless trialist goalkeeper in the Bristol City goal.
Bristol City grew into the game following County extending what was, at the time, a deserved lead and they almost halved the deficit on 18 minutes.
Jamie Paterson profited from some clever play by the City midfield on the edge-of-the-area, the striker eventually creating some space for a shot but seeing the attempt cannon back off the crossbar.
Five minutes later, County could have trebled their lead had it not been for some outstanding reactions by the home trialist goalkeeper.
Butler caused havoc on the left with a marauding run before forcing the shot-stopper to make a smart save from 15 yards, before getting up and making another close-range stop to deny the onrushing Amond.
The home side would eventually halve the deficit following a dominant spell in possession and it came after 37 minutes of football.
It was slightly harsh on Joe Day after a positive start to proceedings, County’s goalkeeper having no chance after Andreas Weimann’s snapshot from 10 yards was deflected the other way off Dan Butler.
And City ensured that both sides were level come the half-time whistle by finding the equaliser just three minutes before the break.
Paterson’s bullet header from an in-swinging corner was too hot to handle for Day in the County goal, Marley Watkins reacting quickest to tap home from close range.
Flynn decided to completely rejuvenate the side at half-time to allow more players to get their first minutes of pre-season.
Jamille Matt and Charlie Cooper both came on for their first appearances for the club, while Jay Foulston, Mark O’Brien, Scot Bennett, David Pipe and Momodou Touray were also joined by four trialists.
Not too much in the way of chances to start second-half proceedings, however, but when the first opportunity of note came, it almost transpired into County re-taking the lead.
Matt almost marked his first appearance in County colours with a goal, but his strong header was saved by the Bristol trialist goalkeeper, before Scot Bennett was also denied by a top save before 70 minutes had elapsed in the game.
Bennett again came close towards the end as County pushed to find a winner in Bristol, but the scores remained level in what was an excellent workout for the squad as they began their pre-season matches.
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County first-half XI (4-2-1-3): Day, Butler, Demetriou, Franks, Forbes, Crofts, Dolan, Sheehan, Marsh-Brown, Amond, Willmott
County second-half XI (3-5-2): Trialist 1, Trialist 2, Foulston, O’Brien, Bennett, Trialist 3, Pipe, Cooper, Trialist 4, Touray, Matt
Bristol City first 60 minutes XI (4-4-2): Trialist 1, Jack Hunt (George Dowling 50’), Aden Baldwin, Tin Plavotic (Taylor Moore 45’), George Nurse, Marley Watkins, Corey Smith, Liam Walsh, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Jamie Paterson, Andreas Weimann
Bristol City final 30 minutes XI (4-4-2): Trialist 1, George Dowling, Harvey Smith, Taylor Moore, Cameron Pring, Rory Holden, James Morton, Tyreeq Bakinson, Jake Andrews, Antoine Semenyo, Saikou Janneh