Stevenage picked up a point with a late equaliser at Newport County to secure a 2-2 draw at Rodney Parade this afternoon.
A first professional goal for Dipo Akinyemi
gave the visitors a half-time lead after a promising opening 45 minutes which saw plenty of Stevenage chances created. However once Newport equalised in the second half they controlled the remainder of the game, going ahead through Scott Boden only for Mark Hughes
to rescue a draw with an injury time header.
Team news saw Mark Hughes
and Brett Williams
restored to the starting XI with Jamie McCombe missing out through injury. Second year scholar Jack Storer was named on the bench along with new loan signings Chris Kettings and Connor Ogilvie.
Sporting their new blue away kit for the first time, Stevenage started brightly and were handed a number of early free-kicks from which Dean Parrett
swung in some dangerous deliveries.
After an otherwise even opening 15 minutes the first real chance fell to Boro, but probably to the wrong man in blue. Good approach play around the Newport penalty area saw the ball fall to Okimo on the edge of the box but his half-volley flew high and wide.
Twumasi was looking a threat on Newport’s left and just past the 20 minute mark the winger cut inside and fired a low effort at goal, straight at Day.
Soon though the chances were mounting up for the visitors. One good tackle by Schumacher set up an opportunity for Akinyemi but the youngster was crowded out and when the ball fell to Parrett, his left-footed shot bobbled wide.
On 33 minutes Boro came close to breaking the deadlock when a ball into the box from Franks found its way to Pett in space, but Joe Day was there to make the save. Moments later the ‘keeper was called into action again, saving at the feet of Akinyemi after a lovely flick from Williams threatened to set the youngster free.
However six minutes before the break Boro finally got the breakthrough. Lee sent a long ball over the top of the Newport defence and there was Akinyemi to latch onto the ball, outpace the defence and coolly slot past Day for his first professional goal.
The goalscorer nearly turned provider four minutes later when more good work in the channels saw the youngster hold off his marker and whip in a dangerous cross for Williams, only for a Newport head to get the last touch.
Two minutes of injury time were signalled but Boro still found time to create two more great opportunities to double their advantage. First Williams nodded an Okimo pass into Parrett’s path, only for the midfielder to send his effort over. Then moments later Akinyemi created space on the far side of the box and tried to fire home with his left foot, but saw the ball fly over.
For all their chances, Boro found themselves with just the single goal advantage at the break.
Stevenage continued to look comfortable in the opening 10 minutes of the second half but when Danny Holmes escaped down the right flank and whipped in a dangerous cross that was somehow cleared, it sparked the home crowd into life and gave the hosts a real confidence boost.
Within two minutes they were level. This time Barrow evaded a challenge down the left and sat up a cross into the box which debutant Aaron Collins headed home for 1-1.
Buoyed with that equaliser the Exiles flooded forward with Boden unable to capitalise on a swift County attack and Dean Wells
throwing himself in to block Elito from the edge of the box. The same midfielder then sent a dipping effort just over Day’s bar from 30 yards as the visitors hung on.
Akinyemi fired wide across Joe Day’s goal from inside the area before Newport turned the game on its head, with Boden firing home from close range on another counter attack.
Conlon and Gorman replaced Lee and Schumacher for the closing minutes and when Williams blasted wide from a tight angle it looked like Boro’s chances of salvaging a point had gone.
However one minute into five minutes of added time, a long throw from the right from Wells was flicked on and Mark Hughes
stooped to head home a late equaliser.
Even then Newport missed a golden opportunity to wrap up all three points when yet another swift counter saw Elito blaze over from yards out, although credit must goes to the retreating Gorman who, hugely outnumbered, held up the counter attack and put in a great tackle to avert the initial danger.
A draw sees Stevenage pick up their first point of the new season and now it’s onto unbeaten Leyton Orient on Tuesday night where Teddy Sheringham’s men will be looking for their first three points.
Stevenage: Day, Franks, Hughes, Wells, Okimo, Lee (Gorman 82), Schumacher (Conlon 82), Parrett, Pett, Akinyemi (Hitchcock 75), Williams
Subs: Kettings, Storer, Casey, Ogilvie
Attendance: 2,521 (102 away fans)