NEWPORT County AFC end the year in 11th place after Padraig Amond’s second-half opener was cancelled out by Mo Eisa in a 1-1 draw at Cheltenham Town.

The draw leaves Michael Flynn’s men four points below Accrington Stanley, who occupy the final play-off spot in seventh.

And it was a decent result for a depleted side in the final match of 2017.

With both Joss Labadie and Mark O’Brien missing through suspension and Ben Tozer struggling with a muscle injury, as well as illness in the camp, the starting XI had a bit of an unfamiliar look about it.

That was compounded by the visitors lining up in an ugly mash-up of their second and third kits.

Michael Flynn made three changes from the Boxing Day defeat at Wycombe Wanderers with Robbie Willmott, Tom Owen-Evans and Amond replacing Labadie, Tozer and Shawn McCoulsky.

Scot Bennett continued in a defensive midfield role so the Exiles boss switched to a flat back four with Willmott and Owen-Evans occupying the wide areas.

Tozer and McCoulsky dropped to the bench, where they were joined by Lamar Reynolds, goalkeeping coach James Bittner and academy graduates Jay Foulston and Momodou Touray.

That highlighted once again the need for reinforcements in the January transfer window.

Cheltenham were also missing a big player of their own with Harry Pell ruled out through injury but both sides went for it in an entertaining opening 10 minutes.

Joe Day was forced into a save from Brian Graham in the third minute before Mo Eisa headed onto the roof of the net from the rebound.

Willmott got forward well early on but blasted his first effort way over Scott Flinders’ bar.

At the other end Day denied Eisa with his feet but County almost had the lead in the eighth minute.

A long throw from Mickey Demetriou was punched out by Flinders only as far as Willmott, whose fierce volley was brilliantly blocked on the line by Taylor Moore.

A couple of Frank Nouble attempts aside, there were very few incidents of note in the next 25 minutes until Matty Dolan curled a free-kick on target but straight into the arms of Flinders.

Amond headed over the bar from another Dolan free-kick but it was the hosts who finished the half on top.

A well-timed block from David Pipe stopped another Eisa effort in its tracks before Day was again the saviour in stoppage time as he rushed out to smother the danger after Kevin Dawson had been released through the middle.

South Wales Argus:

Aston Villa loanee Jerell Sellars was at the heart of the action as the Robins again poured forward at the start of the second half.

He fired into the side netting before putting Eisa through on goal but the lively front man was again denied by Day.

But the deadlock was finally broken at the other end on 55 minutes.

Ben White lofted a ball forward and Amond directed a looping header over Flinders and into the bottom corner of the net.

It was a superb finish from the Irishman and one that sent the 916 away fans behind the goal wild with delight.

Cheltenham did not let that setback halt their charge, however, and they continued to cause County problems at the back.

Captain Jamie Grimes went close and Day saved from Welshman Joe Morrell before White almost sliced an attempted clearance into his own net.

Tozer replaced Dolan in an attempt to protect the back four but the equaliser was coming and it duly arrived on 77 minutes thanks to a smart curling finish into the bottom corner from that man Eisa.

It was the least the hosts deserved for a spirited second half showing and a County had to settle for a point.

They could have had all three if Flinders hadn’t brilliantly tipped a Nouble header round the post and then somehow got his fingertips to a powerful drive from the striker in the final minute.

County: Day; Pipe, White, Demetriou, Butler; Willmott, Bennett, Dolan (Tozer, 68), Owen-Evans; Amond, Nouble (McCoulsky, 90)

Subs not used: Bittner, Foulston, Reynolds, Touray

Referee: Antony Coggins

Booked: Nouble

Attendance: 3,637 (916 County)

Argus star man: Day