Report Scunthorpe United Exiles

Ryan Taylor tapped home his first Newport County AFC goal as the Exiles began their 2020/21 Sky Bet League Two campaign with a 1-1 draw against Scunthorpe United.

The former Plymouth Argyle striker, who joined the Exiles on a one-year deal last month, put the visitors ahead in the first half before Ryan Loft's thunder strike in the second period earned the Iron a share of the spoils at the Sands Venue Stadium.

Michael Flynn made nine changes from County's EFL Trophy defeat against Cheltenham Town on Tuesday night, with two survivors - Ryan Haynes and his namesake Taylor - named in the starting line-up against the Iron.

Nick Townsend, who kept Swansea City at bay last weekend, was given the nod to start between the sticks in a County side who lined up in a 3-4-1-2 formation.

County had created plenty of chances in mid-week against Cheltenham and continued in the same vein against the Iron, with the first opportunity of the afternoon arriving through a well-worked set-piece from the visitors. After Matty Dolan's short corner was played to Liam Shephard, the defender's cross found the head of Kyle Howkins, who leapt high and nodded marginally wide of the post.

Townsend, meanwhile, had to be alert to deny Ryan Loft from putting the home side in the lead after he broke through before forcing a strong save from County's shot-stopper.

Scunthorpe's goalkeeper Rory Watson produced a fine save of his own minutes later when County surged up the opposite end, with Dolan firing a strong effort at goal from 30 yards.

In a period which saw both sides enjoy chances, the Exiles again had Townsend to thank after he made a reflex save from close range to deny Abo Eisa's volley.

County then thought they should have had a penalty when Abrahams was brought down in the penalty area under the challenge from Watson. The Exiles striker apperard to have reached the ball before the home goalkeeper but the referee Benjamin Speedie waved away County's protests.

But it didn't take long for Abrahams to play a part in another move from the visitors which resulted in the opening goal. Scott Twine and Josh Sheehan looked lively for the visitors, and it was the latter's low ball across goal which was skilfully diverted goalwards by Abrahams before Taylor produced the finishing touch to tap the ball home.

And there was still time for Taylor to enjoy another opportunity to grab his second before the break when he guided Haynes' cross narrowly wide of the near post.

Townsend, unlike last Saturday's clash against Swansea City where he was rarely tested, endured a busy afternoon between the sticks and kept out Eisa's shot in the early stages of the second half.

Loft had brought several saves out of the County goalkeeper in the opening 45 minutes and it was the Scunthorpe striker who drew the home side level just before the hour-mark. Myles Hippolyte's header found the path of the Iron's number 9, who rifled his effort beyond Towsend, leaving the Exiles goalkeeper helpless.

County looked to respond and a well-worked move, which started with a goal-kick from Townsend, presented the visitors with another opportunity with 17 minutes left on the clock. The Exiles swiftly moved the ball from their own penalty area to the opposite end of the pitch before Haynes tested Watson with a low drive.

Flynn's men searched for a winner as Howkins guided his effort over the crossbar in the final stages but the home defence held firm to ensure the spoils were shared.

County return to action on Tuesday evening when they take on Cambridge United in the second round of the Carabao Cup at Rodney Parade.

Newport County AFC: Nick Townsend, Ryan Haynes, Matty Dolan (Brandon Cooper 45'), Kyle Howkins, Mickey Demetriou, Liam Shephard, Joss Labadie (C), Josh Sheehan, Scott Twine (Robbie Willmott 90'), Ryan Taylor (Saikou Janneh 65'), Tristan Abrahams.

Substitutes: Tom King, Ashley Baker, Padraig Amond, Lewis Collins.