Scunthorpe 1 County 1

PLAYED seven, won three, drawn two, lost two; Newport County AFC can be pretty happy with their first month back in the big time.

Take away the unfortunate defeat at Northampton Town and it could hardly have gone better for County at the start of their first Football League campaign for 25 years.

Justin Edinburgh’s men have a very creditable eight points out of 15 to sit eighth in League Two after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Scunthorpe United – a side that were two tiers above them last season.

Add in the excitement of the Capital One Cup adventure and life looks pretty good at Rodney Parade.

And with two winnable home games to come over the next two weeks against Mansfield Town and Morcambe, the Exiles can approach September in confident mood.

That didn’t seem likely after 61 seconds of the match at Glanford Park as the excellent Terry Hawkridge crossed for the unmarked Sam Winnall to head past Lenny Pidgeley from a yard out.

The County defence, missing left wing-back Andy Sandell due to a foot injury, were all over the place in the first 20 minutes and the Iron threatened to hammer home their advantage.

A moment of hesitation from Harry Worley and Lee Minshull summed up the chaotic start for the visitors as they left a ball to each other and then blamed one another for the mistake.

Worley was booked for bringing down Winnall to put a stop to a delightful passing move from Brian Laws’ side, who looked set to run away with the match almost before everyone had taken their seat.

Andrew Hughes and captain David Pipe made last-ditch blocks and Edinburgh was shouting himself hoarse on the touchline.

Not since the 5-0 mauling at home to Forest Green on New Year’s Day has the County defence looked in such disarray.

But somehow they survived the early onslaught and, slowly, they started to get a grip of the game and assert themselves more.

They still struggled to create any clear cut chances to threaten the Scunthorpe goal, however.

Ryan Jackson filled in reasonably well for Sandell in defence but he didn’t pose the same threat going forward down the left flank.

He relies too heavily on his right foot and was therefore always cutting inside from the flank and that predictability made him easy to deal with.

Adam Chapman and Robbie Willmott provided the main creative sparks with Minshull heading over from Willmott’s cross midway through the first half.

Chapman then put a delicate chip into the box and Willmott turned expertly but fired over the top.

Putting their dreadful start behind them, County began to dominate possession but lacked a cutting edge – a familiar refrain so far this season.

Christian Jolley was off the pace once again, perhaps understandably with Edinburgh revealing afterwards that he needs an operation on his groin injury, and Chris Zebroski was kept quiet by the home defence.

Willmott ended the half by smashing a volley into the car park but the Exiles were more clinical after the break.

Conor Washington replaced Jolley and he made an immediate difference with his eagerness to run after lost causes and his intelligent movement.

Minshull forced a superb save from Sam Slocombe just three minutes into the half.

Danny Crow came on for Zebroski on the hour and his side were level less than a minute later.

Willmott’s corner was headed down by Worley and into the path of the impressive Hughes, who lashed it home left footed from six yards out.

It was no less than County deserved for a spirited fight back and, though both sides had the chances to take all three points, a draw seemed the fairest outcome.

Hughes headed another opportunity too close to Slocombe and Scunthorpe thought they should have had at least one penalty but there was no separating these sides.

And, considering that Glanford Park was hosting Championship football as recently as 2011, that is some measure of County’s progress over the past two years.

Scunthorpe: Slocombe, Ribeiro, Dawson, Mirfin, Canavan, McAllister, Sparrow, Hawkridge (Esajas, 81), Nolan, Burton (Spencer, 75), Winnall

Subs not used: Severn, Waterfall, Welsh, Wootton, Clark

County: Pidgeley, Pipe, Jackson, Worley, Naylor, Hughes, Minshull, Chapman (Flynn, 68), Willmott, Jolley (Washington, 46), Zebroski (Crow, 60)

Subs not used: Stephens, James, Yakubu

Booked: Worley, Zebroski, Crow

Referee: Graham Horwood

Attendance: 3,157 (County 137)