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Match Reports

REPORT | Exiles leave it late to earn point against Salford City

15 December 2020

Josh Sheehan struck a stoppage-time penalty to rescue Newport County AFC a 1-1 draw against Salford City in a dramatic fixture at the Peninsula Stadium.

Tom Clarke's bullet header on the stroke of half-time gave the Ammies the lead at the interval before they had the opportunity to double their advantage after the break when Robbie Willmott was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area.

But Nick Townsend, who enjoyed an impressive outing in between the sticks, kept out Ian Henderson's effort from 12 yards with one of several strong saves to keep County within a shout of taking something from the game.

The Exiles were then awarded a penalty of their own in the dying stages when the referee Ross Joyce spotted a foul in the area, and Sheehan stepped up to fire home a 94th-minute equaliser to keep County at the top of the Sky Bet League Two table.

Ryan Haynes, who missed Saturday's trip to Leyton Orient, and Tristan Abrahams were brought into the starting line-up as Michael Flynn made two changes from County's 2-1 defeat at the Breyer Group Stadium.

A lively opening in the north west saw both sides enjoy opportunites in front of goal, with the first of the evening falling to the home side. Ashley Hunter brought a strong save out of Nick Townsend after connecting with Ian Henderson's delivery, before the Exiles goalkeeper recovered quickly to deny him for a second time.

County carved out their first chance down the opposite end with a well-worked corner, which saw Sheehan, Padraig Amond and Mickey Demetriou all combine. The ball was flicked into the centre of the box to Demetriou, whose shot hit the post after taking a deflection off Oscar Threlkeld.

Salford enjoyed a purple patch on the half-hour mark and the visitors had Townsend to thank for keeping the scoreline level. He produced a low save to keep Henderson at bay either side of two efforts from Brandon Thomas-Asante, who saw both shots palmed to safety by Townsend. 

County were fortunate not to be behind given the chances that the Ammies had created in quick succession, but they nearly took the lead when Scott Twine and Abrahams combined. After a delicate touch from the latter sent Twine free into the penalty area, the Swindon Town loanee returned the favour by playing the ball back across goal, but Abrahams' effort was cleared off the line by Ibou Touray.

Townsend was the standout performer for the visitors but there was little he could do to prevent his side from going behind at the interval when Clarke powered Hunter's corner home on the stroke of half-time.

The Exiles goalkeeper began in the same vein after the break and was called upon once again 10 minutes into the second half when Willmott was adjudged to have handled Hunter's corner in the penalty area. Referee Joyce pointed to the penalty spot and Henderson stepped up from 12 yards, but Townsend got down low to his right to deny him from doubling Salford's advantage.

And then he produced two quick-fire saves to keep out Thomas-Asante before recovering to deny Clarke from netting his second of the evening.

Scot Bennett almost found the equaliser for the visitors with 11 minutes left on the clock after Demetriou's cross was nodded into the path of the midfielder, who saw his effort cannon back off the post.

County may have felt that it wasn't going to be their night after hitting the woodowork for a second time, but they were presented with the opportunity to grab a late leveller in stoppage time when the referee spotted a foul in the penalty area. Sheehan stepped up to take the penalty and, despite guessing the right way, Vaclav Hladky was unable to prevent the ball from finding the top corner as the Exiles earned a share of the spoils.

Newport County AFC: Nick Townsend, Ryan Haynes (David Longe-King 85'), Mickey Demetriou, Matty Dolan (Robbie Willmott 20'), Brandon Cooper, Liam Shephard, Josh Sheehan (C), Scot Bennett, Scott Twine (Jamie Devitt 63') Padraig Amond (Lewis Collins 63'), Tristan Abrahams (Kevin Ellison 63').

Subs not used: Tom King, Aaron Lewis.

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