Newport County AFC remain in third position of the League Two table after fighting back to take a 1-1 draw at unbeaten Forest Green Rovers.
Scot Bennett’s early own-goal put Rovers in command, but County again fought back resiliently to take something from the contest and Padraig Amond finished neatly in the area after 38 minutes.
County could have been the first team to defeat Rovers in the league this season but Mickey Demetriou blasted a second-half penalty over the crossbar.
The home side also had some chances late on so a draw was probably the fair result, County now three points clear of the chasing pack and still inside the automatic promotion spots, whilst the Exiles trail Lincoln City by four points atop of the table.
Mike Flynn elected to make just the one change to the starting line-up that fought back to take a point in stoppage time against Macclesfield Town on Tuesday night at Rodney Parade.
Charlie Cooper’s loan agreement from the home side didn’t include a clause to allow him to feature against his parent club so he missed out, being replaced by Robbie Willmott, who came back in after suspension for his inaugural League Two start of the campaign.
That change saw a slight formation alteration for the Exiles, as Flynn decided to match up with the home side and play a 4-1-2-3 system from the first whistle.
Forest Green manager Mark Cooper made two changes to his 4-1-2-3 formation compared to the side that came from behind to preserve their unbeaten start to the campaign at Cambridge United in midweek.
Carl Winchester came back in after starring from the bench last time out, while captain Gavin Gunning also returned to replace Lloyd James and Nathan McGinley respectively.
County were certainly implementing a high pressing game to start proceedings at The New Lawn and under pressure, home goalkeeper Robert Sanchez could only hit a clearing kick at the onrushing Jamille Matt within the opening five minutes.
More pressure from Matt saw him intercept a pass from Gavin Gunning on the right-side, rushing towards the line and forcing a corner-kick. Robbie Willmott’s delivery found Padraig Amond in the area, but Farrend Rawson blocked it on the way through.
Rovers were also forcing County to move the play through the phases quickly in a high-tempo contest, and they were the first side to find a sight at goal.
Good interchange down the left-side saw Dayle Grubb bring it back inside and find Carl Winchester, the midfielder turning his man Fraser Franks before hitting the base of the post with a curling 25-yard drive.
That started a good spell of possession for the home side and they made the breakthrough in Nailsworth after 18 minutes of action.
County were caught napping at a quick throw-in on halfway, Liam Shephard quickly getting the ball back into play for Reece Brown who instantly smashed the ball over to the far side for Grubb to chase. The midfielder reached it and got past Tyler Forbes, drilling a cross along that floor that bounced off Scot Bennett and into his own net.
The Exiles responded to falling behind at The New Lawn when keeping the ball for a sustained amount of time, but Sanchez was performing well and managed to keep out a header from Matt and another effort from Tyreeq Bakinson.
An equaliser was coming as County continued to come forward in numbers and it almost came on 37 minutes when Amond did well to keep the ball in play, cutting it back for Semenyo who almost skilfully found the net with a backheel, but Sanchez just about managed to keep it out.
The play kept on coming from the Exiles and they finally made their pressure tell when getting their response exactly a minute after the Semenyo chance.
Robbie Willmott and Forbes were working the right channel well and causing Joseph Mills a whole host of problems, this time Willmott managed to get past the full-back, pulling the ball back into the area for an awaiting Amond who found the net with the desired precision from 12 yards.
It was an interesting scenario in Nailsworth, the side who conceded always seemed to then be on the front foot and Brown almost instantly hit back when dragging a shot narrowly wide from 30 yards.
The home side came even closer to regaining the lead during the one additional minute of added time, Reuben Reid – probably on his sixth attempt of the afternoon by this point – rifling one off the crossbar from just outside the area.
It was certainly an entertaining first-half and that transpired into the second-half as well and both sides had a chance in the 49th minute to take the lead.
First, good build up by Amond and Semenyo saw the latter sting the gloves of Sanchez with a powerful attempt, before at the other end Grubb was first denied by Butler then Day had to get down quickly to keep out the follow up from Shephard.
The game seemed to quieten down from there, but it suddenly perked back up when County were awarded a corner-kick on 64 minutes.
Willmott’s delivery caused pinball in the area, Bennett then Demetriou being denied by vital blocks from Gunning, but when Matt hit it at the third attempt, Reid had no choice but to use his hand to divert the attempt on the goal line.
That gave County a penalty for the third successive game but this time Demetriou couldn’t take advantage as he blasted high over the crossbar into the roof of the stand behind.
Rovers seemed to sniff out some uncertainty after that miss from 12 yards and insisted on playing some neat passes around the County area when keeping possession, and half of the Rovers supporters thought Grubb had scored from a snapshot, but it actually hit the side netting.
Interestingly, no added time was indicated at the end of the contest, but another four minutes were played at The New Lawn according to the scoreboard.
No further chances could be created, however, meaning Rovers kept their unbeaten start to the season intact and County kept their place in the automatic promotion places.
Newport County AFC: (4-1-2-3): Day, Forbes, Demetriou (C), Franks, Butler, Bennett, Bakinson, Willmott (Pring 81’), Amond, Matt (Harris 89’), Semenyo
Subs not used: Townsend, Pipe, Dolan, Marsh-Brown, Sheehan
Forest Green Rovers (4-1-2-3): Sanchez, Shephard, Rawson, Gunning (C), Mills, Digby, Winchester, Brown (Worthington 82’), Campbell (Morris 62’), Reid, Grubb
Subs not used: Montgomery, James, Williams, Archibald, McGinley
Referee: Tim Robinson
Attendance: 3,081 (964 AWAY)
Next up for County: Stevenage (13th October 2018)