Newport County drew 2-2 with Stevenage in an end-to-end battle on Tuesday night at Rodney Parade, with Omar Bogle scoring twice in an eventful League Two encounter.
A busy first half saw the visitors take an early lead through Luke Norris before Bogle netted just before the break to bring the scores level.
Just like in the first half Stevenage scored early to wrestle back the lead this time through Jordan Roberts’ powerful left-footed volley.
County restored parity late on with a calmly taken penalty and once again it was the left foot of Bogle to put us back on level terms.
It was a nightmare start for County, as Norris found space in behind the Exiles’ backline to finish neatly past Nick Townsend.
The home side responded well though and January signing Calum Kavanagh saw an effort from close range blocked after some good build-up play and a cross from Cameron Norman.
It was almost two on five minutes after James Clarke cleared a Roberts cross into the path of Max Clark, whose header from the edge of the area sailed just wide of the right-hand corner.
We had a strong claim for a penalty waved away just minutes later when Bogle fed the bombarding run of Aaron Lewis. The midfield man appeared to be dragged down to the ground, but Ollie Yates thought otherwise.
Newport found themselves in a rare spot of bother on 24 minutes when Kane Smith found fellow full-back Clark at the far post. His knock down into a dangerous position in the box was well cleared though.
Bogle tried his luck from distance on 28 minutes, but as he aimed for the near post he dragged his shot harmlessly wide.
36 minutes in Alex Gilbey found space on the edge of the box for Stevenage, but after taking aim saw a powerful drive blocked well by the legs of Priestley Farquharson.
Clark then tried an ambitious strike from abut 30 yards as the visitors grew into the game following their early lead.
Then just three minutes before the interval, Bogle stepped up to score. Norman had sent it into the mixer, with Farquharson flicking it on, all Bogle had to do was bring it down before volleying home expertly.
Bogle’s confidence was brimming and in first-half stoppage time he had a run at the Stevenage defence, before his fierce shot was well held by Jokull Andresson.
There was still time for the Exiles to go close again before half-time, this time through Adam Lewis. Norman went on another one of his driving runs, sending in a cross at the end of it and his fellow wing-back was unlucky to see his header sail wide.
Jamie Reid nearly made an instant impact from the substitutes bench for Steve Evans, running in behind to get himself into the area, before stinging the palms of Townsend in the County goal.
Moments later Roberts found the net with a sweetly struck volley following a long throw-in to restore the lead for the away side.
Roberts turned provider on 61 minutes when he fed Danny Rose inside the penalty area. The striker took a touch to steady himself only to see his effort blocked and easily gathered by Townsend.
A dangerous long throw from Aaron Lewis found Norman in space in the box midway through the second half and he will be disappointed he couldn’t hit the target after getting to it before the defender.
After a barnstorming run from skipper Mickey Demetriou, the centre-back dug out a delicious, whipped cross for Bogle, who sadly could only send his header high and into the clutches of Adam Pryzybek.
The crowd were rallying behind their team as the clock ticked down, and after Bogle flicked on for Offrande Zanzala, the substitute sent a powerful shot at goal that had the fans off their seats, although Pryzybek gathered well.
Stevenage were penned in but threatened on the counter just before the 80 minute mark, Gilbey’s driving run from inside his own half led to the midfielder firing a vicious shot at goal which Townsend did well to beat away.
The Exiles were awarded a penalty on 82 minutes after a strong sliding challenge from Carl Piergianni on Zanzala.
Bogle stepped up, confidently, and swept home for 2-2 to send the home fans crazy.
Piergianni nearly made amends with a late header which landed comfortably wide of the left-hand post.
Newport County AFC XI: Townsend (GK), Norman, Clarke (Wildig, 78’), Farquharson, Demetriou (c), Adam Lewis, Bennett (Baker, 78’), Aaron Lewis (Evans, 70’), Charsley (McNeill, 78’), Kavanagh (Zanzala, 70’), Bogle.
Subs not used: Day (GK), Baker,, Moriah-Welsh.
Stevenage FC XI: Andresson (GK) (Pryzybek, 46’), Smith, Piergianni (c), Sweeney, Clark, Gilbey, Bostwick, Tomkinson (Forster-Caskey, 46’), March (Rose, 46’), Roberts (Taylor, 90'), Norris (Jamie Reid, 46’).
Subs not used: Horgan, Josh Reid.
Referee: Ollie Yates
Assistant referee: Grant Taylor
Assistant referee: Richard Morris
Fourth official: Ravel Cheosiaua