Harrogate Town report

Newport County AFC battled to a hard-earned draw against early pacesetters Harrogate Town with a 2-2 draw at the EnviroVent Stadium.

The Exiles shipped a goal after 38 seconds in their last away league outing against Salford City but got off to a flyer when Scot Bennett put them in front early on.

Jack Muldoon got the home side back on level terms when he latched on to a goal-kick and fired home with a goal which County would’ve been disappointed to concede. 

An eventful ending to the first half then saw Robbie Willmott’s header restore the Exiles’ lead before Luke Armstrong levelled things up before the half-time interval as the spoils were shared in North Yorkshire.

Michael Flynn made one change from the Exiles’ 2-2 draw with Leyton Orient last weekend, with Priestley Farquharson replacing Timmy Abraham in the starting line up.

County made a dream start inside the opening three minutes after a succession of throw-ins from Cameron Norman eventually resulted in a corner to the visitors. George Thomson could only flick Robbie Willmott’s delivery into the centre of the box towards Bennett, who guided the ball beyond Mark Oxley with a calm finish on his weaker foot.

Norman’s long throw helped County earn a share of the spoils late on against Orient six days earlier and they caused some early problems for the home side in North Yorkshire. Ollie Cooper was one of the beneficiaries as he got on the end of another throw which was launched into the box, but the midfielder’s overhead kick sailed just past the post and behind for goal-kick.

Joe Day had to be on hand down the opposite end when Thomson’s cross found Warren Burrell, who saw his header gathered by the Exiles goalkeeper. Alex Pattison then went close less than 60 seconds later as he cut inside on his right foot and curled an effort just over the crossbar.

The visitors had Day to thank for keeping their lead intact on the half-hour mark after Jack Diamond’s low cross was diverted goal bound by Muldoon, only for the goalkeeper to react quickly and expertly prevent the ball from finding the bottom corner.

But Harrogate hit back three minutes later through a routine goal-kick from Oxley which flew through the air and found its way to Muldoon, who rifled the ball beyond Day with a first-time effort.

County responded four minutes after the restart when Willmott found space in the Harrogate penalty area and nodded Norman’s cross into the far left corner beyond the reach of Oxley.

It looked as though the Exiles would head into the half-time interval with the lead but they were pegged back for the second time two minutes before the break. Muldoon, again causing problems for the away side after his opener, saw his effort kept out by a strong hand by Day before Armstrong made no mistake in firing home the rebound.

Finn Azaz was introduced at the break in place of Matty Dolan and combined well with Willmott and Alex Fisher to create the Exiles’ first opportunity after the break, but the Aston Villa loanee’s effort failed to force a save out of Oxley.

Diamond’s low cross almost led to the home side taking the lead for the first time after forcing a save out of Day before Muldoon struck the side netting from a tight angle.

Fisher then found a pocket of space from 35 yards and unleashed a powerful effort towards goal which was kept out by a strong hand from Oxley.

Harrogate had the opportunity to test Day with five minutes left of normal time when Mickey Demetriou was shown a yellow card for a challenge on Simon Power just outside the box. Lewis Page stepped up to take the free-kick and saw his delivery diverted over the crossbar by substitute Danilo Orsi as both sides chalked up a point.

Newport County AFC: Joe Day, Ryan Haynes, Mickey Demetriou, Matty Dolan (C) (Finn Azaz 45’), Priestley Farquharson, Cameron Norman (Aaron Lewis 77'), Ed Upson, Scot Bennett, Ollie Cooper, Robbie Willmott, Alex Fisher (Timmy Abraham 84').

Subs not used: Nick Townsend, James Clarke, Jake Cain, Dom Telford.