Full-time: Newport County 1, Robins 1Cheltenham Town recorded a useful point after this draw at Newport County’s Rodney Road ground.
For the third time since Russell Milton took over, Wes Burns handed his side a deserved lead but like the games against Accrington Stanley and Mansfield Town, he had to settle for a share of the spoils, this time in South Wales.
The impressive Bristol City winger was a source of constant menace all evening and his fourth goal for the Robins had handed them the initiative but despite plenty of promising play, they found themselves pegged back shortly before the interval when Miles Storey headed the home side level.
The result means that, for 24 hours at least, Cheltenham move level on points with relegation rivals Carlisle United and York City on points.
Milton reshaped his defence following last weekend’s draw with Mansfield Town, deploying Durrell Berry at right back and his latest aquisition, Will Packwood, at centre half in place of Matt Taylor to become the 40th player to appear for the club this term.
He also made a change in attack, restoring Shaun Harrad as lone ranger at the expense of Mathieu Manset in a 4-5-1 formation.
The striker was flanked by Burns (on the right) and Danny Haynes, who skipped past Darren Jones in the sixth minute before prodding one a foot wide of the right post from 12 yards.
But it was the Bristol City loanee who made the breakthrough with 13 minutes on the clock, racing onto his fellow wideman’s flick on and knocking the ball past Joe Day, the Newport goalkeeper, before rolling it into the empty net.
What followed were fantastic scenes as the players celebrated the goal with the jubilant travelling supporters to embody the ‘all in it together’ mantra.
Next Haynes forced a save from the edge of the box after latching onto another defensive error.
Cheltenham turned on the style with a sweeping move down the right approaching the half-hour mark, and it almost resulted in a goal to remember but Matt Sparrow couldn’t find the finish the move involving half of the team deserved.
Harrad brought about a routine save a moment later, meeting Craig Braham-Barrett’s delivery with a firm enough header but it flew straight at Day.
At the other end, Cheltenham had limited the Welsh side to a Mark Byrne free-kick, which Trevor Carson held, but they were back on terms seven minutes before the break through O’Connor after a good bit of work by Ryan Jackson down the right.
The full back accelerated past Braham-Barrett and crossed from the byline, and Storey guided a header beyond Carson.
Things could, and perhaps should have been a lot worse a couple of minutes later when Aaron O’Conor was handed a great chance to head his side into a half-time lead, but the striker planted his header straight at Carson.
Cheltenham responded with a series of chances of their own before the break after a final move down the left.
Sparrow swapped passes with Burns before calling Day into a smart low save, who then blocked Matt Richards’ well struck follow-up from the edge of the box.
The Exiles’ defence couldn’t clear their lines, and Richards was presented with a final opportunity to shoot but this time his effort was deflected narrowly wide for a corner, which came to nothing.
Newport enjoyed their best spell of the game in the opening exchanges of the second half and gave the Cheltenham defence plenty to do without really testing Carson.
Kevin Feeley went closest for the home side seven minutes after the turn-around, clearing the bar with a header from eight yards.
Manset joined the fray in he 57th minute, replacing Harrad in attack and Jordan Wynter came on for Sparrow in the closing stages as Milton pushed for a second goal.
Yan Klukowski’s swerving effort from fully 30 yards almost caught out Carson with 20 minutes to play, but the Northern Irishman got enough on it to steer it off target.
At the other end Burns drew a sharp stop with a ferocious effort from a tight angle down the right.
O’Connor’s 20 yarder with 10 minutes to play picked up a big defection off Troy Brown’s knee, but fortunately for the Robins it travelled wide.
The Robins now have four days to prepare for the trip to Portsmouth’s Fratton Park on Tuesday evening.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-5-1): Carson; Berry, Packwood, Brown (c), Braham-Barrett; Burns, Sparrow (Sparrow 77), Mills, M Richards, Haynes; Harrad (Manset 57). Subs not used: Gould (Gk), Vaughan, Taylor, Hanks, E Richards.
NEWPORT COUNTY: Day; Jackson, Jones (c), Feely, Tutonda (Sandell 49); Byrne, Chapman (Flynn 83), Byrne, Klukowski; O’Connor, Storey (Howe 76). Subs not used: Stephens (Gk), Porter, Jeffers, Poole.
REFEREE: W Barratt
ATTENDANCE: 2,951 (343 from Cheltenham)