Newport County 2-2 Cheltenham Town
Cheltenham Town drew 2-2 with Newport County in an exciting game on a sunny afternoon in South Wales.
Asa Hall put The Robins ahead early on with a brilliant curling effort only for Jon Parkin to equalise minutes later for The Exiles.
Danny Wright then put Cheltenham back in front with a penalty just before the break, but Parkin again levelled to make it level at half time.
Both sides fought well in a competitive second half but neither of them could find a winner as the game finished all square.
It was a quick, full-blooded start to the game as both sides tried to get on the front foot and assert themselves as soon as the first whistle was blown.
Newport were the first team to test either goalkeeper on 9 minutes as Russell Griffiths was forced into action when he had to acrobatically prevent Mark Randall’s effort from going into the top right corner.
Two minutes later, though, it was Cheltenham who took the lead when Hall picked up the ball inside the Newport half and ran towards goal, unleashing a curling shot from the edge of the box into the bottom right corner of the net.
However, Gary Johnson’s side were ahead for all of seven minutes as Griffiths punched a corner high into the air, and the ball found it’s way to Jon Parkin who’s shot squeezed over the line to make the scores level.
Just after the half hour mark the scoreline changed again as Harry Pell went on a long, mazy run and was brought down inside the area, giving birthday boy Wright the chance to get his first Football League goal – and that’s exactly what he did.
In similar fashion to when The Robins went ahead the first time, though, Newport equalised almost instantaneously as the ball was crossed into Parkin to tap home his, and County’s, second of the game.
The home side could have gone ahead just before the break when Reece Grego-Cox went through on goal, but his low shot was saved by the feet of Griffiths to keep the scores level at half time.
Within a minute of the restart Griffiths again had to be at his best to keep out a powerful half-volley from range by Parkin, as the Everton loanee somehow got across to claw the ball out of the top left corner.
The game carried on straight from where it left off in the first half, and Newport were inches away from going ahead on 57 minutes when Jack Compton’s free kick cannoned back off the crossbar.
Seconds later Cheltenham went straight up the other end and County goalkeeper Joe Day fantastically kept out both Pell and Jonny Smith when it looked like The Robins were destined to re-take the lead.
For the first time in the match things settled down for a brief period, with Aaron Downes then making his long-awaited comeback to a rapturous applause from the travelling 422 Robins fans in the 72nd minute.
Despite pressure from both sides late on, neither side could find a winner and the game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Newport County: J Day, D Butler, J Turley, S Bennett (C), P Bignot, M Randall (B Tozer, 85), J Labadie, J Compton (M Jackson, 62), R Grego-Cox, S Rigg, J Parkin (R Healey, 80).
Unused Subs: J Bittner, J Myrie-Williams, J Green, K Cameron.
Cheltenham Town: R Griffiths, D Parslow (C), D O’Shaughnessy, R Dickie, J Barthram (A Downes, 72), J Cranston, A Hall, J Rowe (J Dayton, 66), H Pell, B Waters (J Smith, 48), D Wright.
Unused Subs: C Kitscha, E Suliman, J Munns, K Arthur.