NEWPORT COUNTY, down to ten men, saw victory slip away as they shipped two late goals at Hartlepool United, writes James Richardson.

Two goals to the good and in complete control, the dismissal of Andy Sandell proved pivotal, as bottom of the table Pools rescued the most unlikely of points.

And, in the end, the Exiles were lucky not to lose it as Joe Day made a vital save to deny Charlie Wyke a late winner.

Pools, under new manager Paul Murray, brought the game’s first chance on eight minutes. Jonathan Franks worked on an opening on the left side and his angled shot was firmly turned away by goalkeeper Day.

Then Bradley Walker fired a free-kick from 25 yards straight into the County defensive wall and Day gathered easily.

Play switched swiftly to the other end, Aaron O’Connor should have scored, but fired firmly straight into goalkeeper Scott Flinders, who mopped up the weak follow-up shot from the marauding Mike Flynn.

Then, striker Chris Zebroski cut inside from the left and curled a right-footed shot high over the bar.

Pools again pressed and countered quickly. Neil Austin’s firm tackle robbed Sandell and set Franks away, but he was held up by some resolute defending and fired over under pressure.

Still the Exiles were forced back, but they defended well. Their three-man central defensive rearguard was proving strong. They were too strong for Pools all over the pitch.

Harewood then found a yard of space in the area, but his attempted flying volley was hooked wide from 12 yards.

Then, on 38 minutes, the Exiles took the lead with a goal from nothing.

Pools attacker Franks decided to pass back towards his own goalkeeper from near the halfway line.

Zebroski realised the ball was falling well short of the penalty area, took possession, rounded Flinders and slotted in from an angle.

There was frustration galore from the home crowd, but joy for the 98 travelling supporters.

And, on 56 minutes, the Exiles doubled their lead.

A long ball from the back, sprayed by Darren Jones was touched by home defender Sam Collins and into the path of the alert O’Connor.

Once he got goal side of the defenders, there was only one outcome and he fired low and crisp under Flinders.

Pools’ substitute Sidney Schmeltz fired low past Day’s right-hand post, before the Exiles were reduced to ten men.

Sandell was harshly booked for a foul on Franks. And after a corner, he ended up rolling around on the floor with Scott Harrison. Both were yellow carded after an 18-man melee, with Sandell also shown red.

Opening goalscorer Zebroski dropped into left-wing back as the Exiles looked to hold onto what they had.

Curtis Obeng made a fine goal-line clearance to deny Marlon Harewood.

Then, with ten minutes to go, Walker’s crisp finish saw Day finally beaten from the edge of the area.

Then, as time was running out, right-back Michael Duckworth roamed into the area, the defence gave him too much time and he finished from eight yards.

Hartlepool: Flinders, Duckworth, Collins, Harrison, Austin, Featherstone, Walker, Woods (Schmeltz 63), Franks, Harewood, Wyke. Subs not used: Brobbel, Hawkins, Richards, Jones, Smith, Crooks.

Newport: Day, Jones, Yakubu, Hughes, Sandell, Minshull, Flynn, Porter (Klukowski 60), Obeng, O’Connor (Loveridge 79), Zebroski. Subs not used: Pidgeley, Feely, Tancock, Collins, Patten.