Newport County AFC scored twice late on to steal victory away from 10-man Scunthorpe United at a cold and windy Sands Venue Stadium for their first SkyBet League Two win in 11 games.
Abo Eisa’s stunning first-half effort gave The Iron a deserved lead at the break but the Exiles turned things around with two goals in four minutes in the second half from attacking duo Jamille Matt and Padraig Amond, either side of a Lee Novak red card.
Michael Flynn made three changes from the midweek Leasing.Com Trophy victory over MK Dons with Tom King, Joss Labadie and Mickey Demetriou returning to the side in place of Nick Townsend, Matty Dolan and Dom Jefferies.
The manager opted for a back three with Ryan Haynes and George Nurse operating as wing backs and it was the latter who helped create County’s first chance. He played Tristan Abrahams into space on the left but the attacker’s low cross was just behind Amond with the goal at his mercy.
The wind went against County on 12 minutes when Harrison McGahey’s cross twisted in the air and fell straight to Novak but the striker couldn’t find the target.
The Iron were finding plenty of space in the middle of the pitch but Ryan Inniss proved to be a constant obstacle that they couldn’t find a way past. After blocking a shot from Eisa in the box, the defender beat Novak to the ball to clear the danger after the striker had escaped the clutches of Mark O’Brien. The Crystal Palace loanee came to County’s rescue again on the half-hour mark with a strong, but fair, challenge to stop Kgosi Ntlhe.
King showed his worth in the County goal with a superb save from close-range when it looked certain that Eisa would open the scoring. The Scunthorpe attacker was a problem all afternoon for the Exiles backline and eventually broke the deadlock on 38 minutes with a stunning curling effort from the edge of the area.
The visitors could have opened the scoring themselves and only a Matthew Lund goal-line clearance kept Inniss off the scoresheet before Nurse set his sights from range, but the ball was always rising.
Whatever Flynn said at the break had the desired effect as County emerged carrying a greater goal threat. They asked all of the questions after the restart and almost produced an equaliser with Amond perfectly controlling Josh Sheehan’s floated ball but Scunthorpe cleared off the line again, this time thanks to McGahey.
The Exiles were dominating play and Flynn wanted to make that count, so he introduced Matt for O’Brien. It proved to be an inspired change as the marksman prodded home from close range to level proceedings on 72 minutes.
That proved to be a turning point as County continued to pour forward with renewed optimism. The hosts were struggling to contain the Exiles and that caused frustration in the Scunthorpe ranks, which boiled over when Novak was sent off after a confrontation with Inniss.
Amond showed his clinical edge in front of goal from the resulting free kick as he pounced on a loose ball to fire home from close range to hand County their first league win since a 2-1 triumph in the reverse fixture back in October.
Scunthorpe United (4-2-3-1): Rory Watson; Jordan Clarke, Andy Butler (C), Harrison McGahey, Kgosi Ntlhe; James Perch, Matthew Lund; John McAtee, Junior Brown (Ryan Colclough 77), Abo Eisa; Lee Novak.
Subs not used: Tom Collins, Alex Gilliead, Levi Sutton, George Miller, Jacob Bedeau, Jamie Proctor.
Newport County AFC (3-5-2): Tom King; Ryan Inniss, Mark O’Brien (Jamille Matt 58), Mickey Demetriou; Ryan Haynes, Joss Labadie (C), Scot Bennett, Josh Sheehan, George Nurse; Padraig Amond, Tristan Abrahams.
Subs not used: Nick Townsend, Kyle Howkins, Joe Woodiwiss, Matty Dolan, Dale Gorman, Lewis Collins.
Referee: Scott Oldham
Next up for County: Swindon Town (January 18) HOME