MANAGER James Rowberry hailed the resilience of his Newport County AFC side after their draw against ‘League One’ Forest Green Rovers.

The Exiles shared the spoils with the League Two leaders after a dramatic clash at Rodney Parade.

County hit the front after just two minutes through Finn Azaz and Rovers goalkeeper Luke McGee denied him a second with a block before saving with his feet from Dom Telford.

Forest Green grew into the game and after finishing the first half strongly got their leveller after 53 minutes when Jack Aitchison beat Nick Townsend at his near post.

The goalkeeper made up for his error with several fine stops and County held on for a draw despite James Clarke’s 83rd minute dismissal for two yellow cards, both for pulling the shirt of former Exiles Jamille Matt.

Rowberry’s men were beaten 2-0 at the New Lawn at the start of February but the boss was pleased by the performance on Welsh soil.

“They are 10 points clear and I said it after the first game against them, they are a League One outfit right now with an excellent manager,” said Rowberry.

“He is a very good coach who sets them up well but I thought we dealt with them well at times.

“As a performance, I was pleased with that character and resilience because they are an excellent team.”

County failed to get the second goal while putting Rovers under pressure with their energetic pressing and then had to dig deep for a point that lifted them to sixth.

“I thought that we created some really good chances and in transition we were excellent, we just missed that little bit in the final third,” said Rowberry.

“I am absolutely delighted with my players’ resilience and character, just with the way that they operate. That was one of my proudest moments, for them to keep going and going.

“Forest Green created some good chances as well and a draw was probably a fair reflection of the game.

“If I compare this performance to the one at Forest Green, that showed what we are about and what we are capable of.”

There could be no complaints about Clarke’s two yellow cards but County were angered by what they felt was inconsistency from the referee in a contest in which neither side gave an inch.

He also booked Aaron Lewis, Scot Bennett, Ollie Cooper and Rob Street but only cautioned one Rovers player – Matt for his scuffle with Bennett.

“I’ve got three lads in the changing room with their shirts all ripped. It’s both ways,” said Rowberry.

“The referee has got a really hard job and I wouldn’t like to do it, so I am not going to criticise him in anything he has done.

“I said at Christmas that I didn’t want to criticise referees because I wanted to buy my kids presents and I want to continue to treat them, so I’d best not say too much.”