First away point for the Exiles
Dagenham 1 County 1
IT will be weeks if not months before we can assess Newport's first league draw of the campaign.
At this point in time we have no real idea about how strong the Exiles are, though the earliest signs are extremely positive, nor do we have any real measuring stick for the Daggers, now under new management.
The Exiles have picked up a first away point, thanks to a fine goal by Chris Zebroski and a dramatic late clearance from Andrew Hughes, but this was a contest that posed more questions than answers.
We saw two sides to Newport and undoubtedly we'll see both again this term.
From 10 minutes into the contest until Dagenham's equaliser, they were in almost total control.
Lee Minshull and Adam Chapman dominated in midfield, Robbie Willmott looked a menace and the defenders pushed up high, confidently and purposefully, allowing Andy Sandell and David Pipe to overlap continuously.
However, in the final quarter of the contest we saw the Exiles jittery and falling deeper and deeper, the wing-backs becoming full-backs and ball retention becoming virtually non-existent.
To County's credit, they came away with a point. Having failed to capitalise on their supremacy, they were so under the cosh in the final throws that a cruel winner for the hosts seemed almost inevitable at certain points.
Despite only collecting a point from six, the Exiles haven't played better at home this term than on the road, they've just stood firmer when the pressure is on them with the comfort of a home following.
Make no mistake, they could've won on Saturday, just as they could at Northampton.
This was the very first contest between the two sides and it took a while to come to life, Lenny Pidgeley's smooth transition back into the first XI helped by a couple of speculative early efforts from Rhys Murphy and Josh Scott than he dealt with comfortably.
It was the hosts who were the more urgent side but the Exiles took control, Zebroski teed up Jolley who had the goal at his mercy, but he couldn't beat Chris Lewington.
Rain had been persistent in the London area - ask those who had day four Ashes tickets - and the heavens opened in Barking too, but the Exiles grew stronger and stronger with the rain.
Zebroski blazed over from Jolley's cutback but soon made amends, benefiting from a chance out of nothing.
Jolley's determined sprint back and inch perfect sliding tackle turned over possession and Adam Chapman seized control, firing a perfect pass to Zebroski who finished magnificently, cutting inside, beating a defender and then rolling the ball into the net.
But as good as it was, it wasn't enough. Jolley and Zebroski's misses were added to early in the second period, with Andy Sandell and Tom Naylor both coming close to finding the crucial second.
With former England U21 winger Zavon Hines introduced for his debut Dagenham found an outlet and with it momentum, their full-backs pushing on and pinning back Sandell and Pipe.
From one such foray they equalised, Gavin Hoyte - ex Arsenal - finding a perfect cross that only needed any kind of finishing touch, skipper Abu Ogogo obliging with a ricochet off his thigh.
Hines tested Pidgeley as the hosts streamed forward, but until injury time it was the Exiles who had the more clear-cut openings. All fell to the Lee Minshull. Three times he missed with headed efforts and the third one especially was more than presentable.
They also had a big claim for a penalty after Scott Doe clearly handled in the area, but bizarrely not a single Newport player protested.
And how costly it might have been that they went unrewarded, substitute Afolabi Obafemi's first touch nearly a moment of glory as he beat Pidgeley; only for Andrew Hughes to clear brilliantly off the line.
County held on and the final whistle was a relief, but on chances created, they'll rue that fact.
Dagenham: Lewington, Ilesanmi, Doe, Saah, Elito (Bingham 46,), Ogogo, Murphy (Obafemi, 88), Scott (Hines 46), Howell, Hoyte, Woodall
Subs: Seabright, Wilkinson, Dennis, Connors
Newport: Pidgeley, Pipe, Sandell, Worley, Naylor, Hughes, Chapman, Minshull, Willmott (Flynn 75), Jolley (Washington 63), Zebroski (Crow, 81)
Subs: James, Jackson, Stephens
Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)
Attendance: 1564 (277 away)
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