Rampant Rovers thwarted by Newport
ROARED on by a noisy new band of drummers and trombone players, Forest Green came close to calling the tune over Newport County in a New Lawn thriller.
The Exiles led 1-0 at the break after Nat Jarvis had thrown under-pressure boss Anthony Hudson a lifeline with a 38th minute opener following an uncharacteristic error from Forest Green centre-back Jamie Turley.
David Hockaday’s hairdryer treatment at the break saw Rovers turn up the heat. Former County striker Charlie Griffin cancelled out Jarvis' strike with a well-placed header on 66 minutes and Hudson's men hung on for a point despite relentless Rovers pressure.
Earlier, Rovers named Trinidad and Tobago international and former Southampton winger Jake Thomson, signed on a month's loan from Kettering, on the bench.
Hockaday recalled two former Newport men in Griffin and Wayne Turk, with Al Bangura and James Rowe both dropping to the bench.
Although Newport started brightly, Griffin had the ball in the visitors' net inside six minutes, prodding home from close range, but it was ruled out due to the ball going out of play during the build-up.
An offside flag denied the big striker again soon afterwards, but the ball appeared to be deflected past a Newport defender following Chris Stokes free-kick.
Despite holding the territorial advantage the Exiles first attempt came on 24 minutes. Former Cheltenham Town striker Sam Foley watched his cheeky chip drop wide of the back-pedalling James Bittner.
However, Rovers pressed the self-destruct button.
A long ball over the top should have been cleared by Turley, but the normally consistent rock produced a clumsy touch for Jarvis to steal possession and comfortably stroke the ball into the bottom corner.
Rovers were certainly playing sweet music after the break as they continually peppered Newport’s defence.
Danny Rose’s goal-line clearance following Keiron Forbes’ corner denied Griffin. James Norwood shot into Glyn Thompson after a rare slip from County’s defensive rock Gary Warren.
However, the Exiles came close to making it two on 52 minutes, but Foley flashed wide following Jarvis’ knock-down.
Thomson was introduced for Curtis McDonald in the 56th minute and immediately looked positive. His first touch saw him step on the gas and beyond County left-back Lee Baker.
Thomson was at it again; his ball into the box saw the rampaging Stokes fizz in a strike, which Thompson did well to block.
It was all Rovers. Stokes and the impressive Jared Hodgkiss were breaking forward at will. Two Stokes crosses saw Griffin’s header blocked and then Norwood sent a header just wide.
The goal duly arrived on 66 minutes when Norwood stood up a super left-footed cross from the right and Griffin produced a thumping header beyond Thompson.
The atmosphere at the New Lawn was electric as Rovers hunted a second. Forbes almost caught out Thompson with a lob and four minutes later Griffin latched onto a backpass by David Pipe and nicked the ball beyond the stranded keeper, but the angle was too tight and the chance went begging.
Rovers almost nicked it at the end. Thomson flashed past his marker and Griffin met his cross, but Robson blocked on the line.