MICHAEL Flynn returned to the scene of his first match in charge of Newport County AFC but there was no late winner this time at Crewe Alexandra.

If last week’s 3-3 thriller at Stevenage felt like a win for County, this 1-1 draw against 10 men at Gresty Road left the Exiles with plenty of regrets.

Joss Labadie, scorer of the 88th-minute winner as the Great Escape began here in March, was one of four men recalled by Flynn.

Mark O’Brien, Sean Rigg and Frank Nouble also returned to the starting XI as Scot Bennett was ruled out with an ankle injury and David Pipe, Tom Owen-Evans and Lamar Reynolds began on the bench.

Teenager Ben White retained his place in defence, starting in a back three with O’Brien and Mickey Demetriou either side of him.

Robbie Willmott returned to right wing-back as Rigg looked to support Nouble and Shawn McCoulsky up front.

And, following a bright start at a sunny Gresty Road, County were ahead in the 13th minute as Nouble tapped in after Labadie and White had both seen goal-bound efforts blocked.

If that wasn’t enough to put the Exiles in charge, the red card shown to Crewe defender Perry Ng for a second booking four minutes later gave Flynn’s men another huge boost.

But the 10 men were level within a minute as George Cooper ran at the County defence and crossed for Chris Dagnall to slot in from close range.

And, despite White and Willmott going close, it was the hosts who looked more likely to add to the score before the break.

White should have scored with a volley from six yards out but he failed to connect properly and Crewe goalkeeper Ben Garratt saved.

But Cooper was causing all sorts of problems down the right.

He cut inside and curled a shot over Joe Day’s bar before creating what should have been Crewe’s second goal in the first minute of stoppage time.

Cooper swept the ball across goal and Chris Porter only had to side-foot home but his shot was scuffed and the ball was diverted onto the post by White before the youngster cleared the danger.

The sending off certainly seemed to fire up the hosts in the first half but County made much better use of their numerical advantage in the opening stages of the second period.

The increasingly influential Rigg played in Nouble with a perfect ball inside the full-back but the striker took too long to get his shot away and his effort was blocked.

Rigg then tested Garratt with a drive from the edge of the box and the keeper smothered the rebound before McCoulsky could pounce.

That was the free-scoring forward’s final contribution as he was replaced by Reynolds just before the hour, with Flynn looking to use the latter’s pace to stretch the home defence.

There was still danger at the other end, however, as Cooper continued to threaten, forcing Day into a fine save before finding the side netting with his second attempt.

Cooper’s teammate Ryan Wintle also wasted a good chance as he fired over the bar following a knock-down from Porter.

But County looked the most likely to find a winner in the closing stages with Matty Dolan’s free-kick pushed away from goal by Garratt and O’Brien placing a free header wide from a corner.

Reynolds also went agonisingly close with a fierce shot from the edge of the area but it was brilliantly blocked and diverted just past the post.

And he went even closer with six minutes left on the clock as his header was cleared off the line by a combination of Garratt and defender Eddie Nolan.

There were more chance for the hosts as substitute Callum Ainley blasted a shot into the midriff of O’Brien and Porter headed wide from a late corner.

But neither side could find a winner on a frustrating day for all concerned.

County: Day; Demetriou, White, O’Brien; Butler (Jahraldo-Martin, 90) Labadie, Dolan, Rigg (Owen-Evans, 75), Willmott; Nouble, McCoulsky (Reynolds, 57)

Subs not used: Bittner, Pipe, Foulston, Cole

Booked: Demetriou, Dolan

Referee: Eddie Ilderton

Attendance: 3,400 (354 County)

Argus star man: Rigg