Crawley Town were held by Newport County after a brilliant performance wasn’t quite enough to secure the points on a cold Tuesday night.
After a very entertaining first half, Kwesi Appiah opened the scoring after stooping low and heading home Jack Powell’s perfect cross with just ten second-half minutes gone.
Crawley continued to dominate but couldn’t hold on as Newport’s Dom Telford swept home from close range to equalise for the visitors against the run of play.
John Yems made one change to the side that was victorious against Barrow AFC on Saturday, replacing Sam Ashford with Reece Grego-Cox on the bench after deciding not to change his starting eleven.
With the talismanic Kevin Ellison leading the line, it was clear to see Newport were hoping to make the most of their aerial prowess as cross after cross entered the Crawley box in the first ten minutes. The Reds remained resolute for now and started to work their way into the game.
After gaining some momentum, Crawley gave the FA another reason to suspect Yems of putting the 1970s Brazilian national team in red shirts as they pieced together one of their best moves since Tom Nichols’ goal away at Tranmere last season. Powell, Appiah, and Ashley Nadesan linked up beautifully in a tight space on the edge of the Newport penalty area before a last-ditch tackle saved County from conceding.
The game began to even out as we crossed the half-hour mark. Appiah went close for Crawley when he blasted the ball into the side netting from a tight angle, but the best chance of the half fell to Finn Azaz who rolled the ball across the face of Glenn Morris’ goal in the 25th minute when he arguably should’ve scored.
A competitive half saw County denied a penalty after Aaron Lewis went down inside the box under Tyler Frost’s challenge, but the referee, Sam Allison, wasn’t interested.
Crawley came out after halftime and looked fierce, dominating the game in every way and they earned their reward in the 56th minute. James Tilley won a free kick in a great crossing position and Powell stood over it. On Allison’s whistle, he whipped in an inch-perfect ball onto the head of the Appiah who dove forward to divert home for the Reds.
The hosts were indisputably on top in the second half and halftime substitute Will Ferry was wreaking havoc. He carved out three chances in his 27-minute cameo, first setting up George Francomb a close-range effort that was smothered by Joe Day in the Newport net. Then he had two efforts himself, forcing Day into another great save and firing just over the bar within the space of three minutes before injury forced him off the pitch.
As the game approached its latter stages, Newport began to regain some control in the game as they pushed for that all-important goal. Despite all of Crawley’s pressure and control in the half, they couldn’t keep the visitors out as Telford netted with County’s first shot on target of the half. Good work down the right-wing from Oliver Cooper got him to the by-line, allowing for a simple cut back to Telford who swept home.
Crawley almost snatched it at the death when Appiah plucked the ball out of the air and sent a delicate chip over Day and towards his open goal. Agonisingly for the Reds, his effort clipped off the top of the crossbar and back into the grateful arms of Newport 'keeper.
The Reds were forced to make do with a point in the end and now turn their attention to Saturday when Mansfield Town are the visitors to The Peoples’ Pension Stadium.
REDS XI: Morris, Davies, Francomb, Craig, Powell, Nadesan, Frost (Ferry 46’ (Nichols 73’)), Tilley (Grego-Cox 68’), Francillette, Appiah, Hessenthaler
UNUSED SUBS: Noukeu, Battle, Kowzlczyk, Bansal-McNulty
Attendance: 1,483 (130 away)