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Newport County 2-2 Leyton Orient
Leyton Orient had to be satisfied with only a point at COVID-hit Newport, last Saturday.
Despite twice holding the lead, courtesy of goal-machine, Harry Smith’s brace, sloppy defending allowed Matty Dolan – from the penalty spot – and sub, Dom Telford to claim the hosts’ share of the spoils.
Even before the Exiles had levelled, in first-half stoppage time, against the run of play, this contest should have been out of sight.
Failure to take all their early chances, proved costly, with Smith, Archibald and Clay denied by the imposing Joe Day.
After Smith’s fine headed 34th-minute opener, Newport – with seven players missing – grew increasingly stronger and having seen Alex Fisher wastefully head wide, on 41 minutes, Dolan blasted home from the spot, sending Lawrence Vigouroux the wrong way.
Whatever boss, Kenny Jackett, told his east Londoners at the interval clearly had the initial, desired effect as Smith restored the lead within eight minutes.
A raking Archibald run saw County fail to clear their lines and the enterprising James found Darren Pratley, who put the ball on a plate for Smith to nod past Day, grappling in thin air.
Again, the O’s enjoyed a territorial advantage, but the failure of Clay and Archibald to hit the target, when well-placed, meant the Exiles were still in this contest.
Once again, having barely managed a decent, on-target second-half attempt, it took super-sub, Telford’s faintest of touches to restore parity, from Cameron Norman’s raking 80th-minute throw-in.
Sitting back – thus inviting County pressure – Vigouroux had to be on his mettle to deny Telford a second, only a minute later.
Late Orient pressure, with Dan Kemp thrown in, failed to materialize anything substantial, leaving Jackett’s assistant, the affable Joe Gallen, admitting: “It’s always a difficult place to come to. I thought we did play very well, and if we could have got to three-one we could have put the game away.”
“I thought we had the first half. Their keeper made some superb saves. But, the overriding feeling is one of disappointment, not having picked up all three points, today.”
The former QPR striker ended: “We’ve had ten new players coming through the door, and the future is looking bright, with a busy month ahead.”
Opposing boss, Michael Flynn, added: “We can’t use Covid as an excuse. We gave away two poor goals today. But, I can’t fault the effort our players showed today. It was a really good League Two game today, against a very good Leyton Orient side.”
Orient hitman, Smith added: “It’s disappointing – especially after scoring two goals. You’d like to think you’d come away with the three points.”
County star man, Day, concluded: “We showed a lot of character to twice come back from goals behind.”
Leyton Orient return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday, September 11 when Oldham Athletic visit the Breyer Group Stadium (3pm)
Newport County: Joe Day, Mickey Demetriou, Ed Upson, Cameron Norman, Haynes, Scott Bennett, Robbie Willmott, Matt Dolan (Ashley Farquarson 62′, Oli Cooper, Timmy Abrahams (Dom Telford 62′), Alex Fisher Subs not used: Nick Townsend, James Clarke, Jake Cain, Aaron Lewis
Leyton Orient: Lawrence Vigouroux, Connor Wood, Omar Beckles, Alex Mitchell, Shad Ogie, Tom James, Craig Clay, Darren Pratley, Theo Archibald, Aaron Drinan (Dan Kemp 90′), Harry Smith Subs not used: Tyrese Omotoye, Callum Reilly, Antony Papadopoulos, Jayden Sweeney, Daniel Nkrumah
Referee: Scott Doughty
Assistants: Jonathan Hunt and Craig Taylor
Fourth Official: Scott Tallis