Newport County AFC continued their preparations for the 2020/21 Sky Bet League Two campaign with a 1-1 draw against League One side Bristol Rovers.
Both goals arrived in the first half as Tristan Abrahams' curling effort cancelled out Josh Hare's free-kick in a physical test for the Exiles.
Michael Flynn's men started the brighter of the team of the two sides and enjoyed much of the possession in the opening period, heaping pressure on the away side’s goal as they looked to take an early lead.
David Longe-King - who joined the Exiles alongside Ryan Taylor on Thursday - rose high and met Josh Sheehan’s cross before diverting his header wide of Jordi van Stappershoef’s post.
Sheehan, who was making things work in the middle of the park, was at the centre of another Exiles move minutes later as his powerful effort from range forced van Stappershoef into palming the ball away to safety.
County again went close to breaking the dead-lock when Trialist 1 ventured forward and brought another save out of the Bristol Rovers goalkeeper. While Trialist 3 showed a good turn of pace to beat his marker before striking a low-effort which hit the upright.
Jonah Ayungs’s effort forced Nick Towsend into action for the first time mid-way through the first as he got down well to deny the Rovers striker, and Towsend recovered quickly to make another save in quick succession to keep the scoreline goalless.
County had enjoyed the better of the chances inside the opening 30 minutes, but it was the visitors who took the lead through Hare. After the away side won a free-kick on the edge of the Exiles’ area, the Rovers defender stepped up and curled his effort over the wall and into the top corner.
Matty Dolan nearly replicated Hare’s free-kick after the restart as he took aim towards the top corner, only for van Stappershoef to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Mickey Demetriou’s pin-point delivery was nodded marginally wide by Trialist 3 as County pressed for the equaliser, which arrived five minutes before the half-time interval. Sheehan - the standout player for the Exiles in the opening 45 minutes - slid in Abrahams, who cut inside on his left foot and curled the ball beyond van Stappershoef into the bottom corner.
Tom King came to County’s rescue in the final stages after Cameron Hargreaves - who broke through County’s defensive line - saw his effort from close range denied by County’s No.1 in what was a remarkable save to keep out the midfielder.
But the Exiles quickly turned defence into attack and went agonisingly close to taking the lead for the first time. Longe-King connected well with a delivery into the penalty area and looked destined to score his first Exiles goal, only to be denied by Michael Kelly, who nodded the ball off the line.
Newport County AFC XI: Nick Towsend (Tom King 45'), David Longe-King, Mickey Demetriou (Trialist 4 60'), Matty Dolan (Joe Woodiwiss 45'), Trialist 1, Ryan Haynes (Lewis Collins 45'), Josh Sheehan (Trialist 5 60'), Scot Bennett (Joss Labadie 45'), Trialist 2, Tristan Abrahams (Padraig Amond 45'), Trialist 3 (Kyle Howkins 69').