A HAT-TRICK from Paul Hayes wasn't enough to earn Newport County AFC three points as substitute Lee Collins' late leveller for Forest Green Rovers clinched a 3-3 draw at Rodney Parade last night. Here's what we learned...  

1. County have rediscovered their goal-scoring instincts

After a fruitless February, the Exiles ended their 517-minute goal drought in style with three in the first half from Hayes.

The 34-year-old marked his first start for the club with a first hat-trick of his career but County should have had five or six.

Mark O’Brien, Robbie Willmott, Mickey Demetriou and substitute Marlon Jackson will all feel they could have got the crucial goal to earn their side a vital victory.

2. Hayes and Amond look like perfect partners

Hayes replaced Frank Nouble, who was suffering from a stiff groin, and showed his predatory instincts with three poacher’s goals.

The first two saw him helping Dan Butler efforts over the line and the third was a simple tap-in after O’Brien was denied by a stunning save.

Padraig Amond didn’t have a clear chance but he linked extremely well with Hayes and the pair seemed to work up an easy understanding in no time at all, suggesting they could be a potent partnership for the remainder of the season.

South Wales Argus:

3. Defensive display gives cause for concern at the other end

Michael Flynn looks to have solved the problem up front but it’s back to square one in defence after a disappointing display from the back line.

Successive clean sheets against Notts County and Port Vale were quickly forgotten as relegation-threatened Rovers helped themselves to three goals at Rodney Parade.

The first two involved varying degrees of misfortune but the third came as a result of the Exiles dropping deeper and deeper in the closing stages and they missed several opportunities to clear the danger before Collins poked home.

4. Jackson jumps ahead of McCoulsky

When Hayes’ aching limbs finally gave out and Flynn was forced into a change up front it was Jackson who got the call ahead of Shawn McCoulsky, who remained on the bench throughout.

Super-sub McCoulsky missed a glorious chance after coming on at Port Vale last time out and appeared to be struggling for confidence.

Jackson also looked hesitant in front of goal when his one chance came last night and he desperately needs a goal to boost his self-belief and win over his critics.

5. Sheehan is fit and ready to fire

Flynn last week rubbished rumours that Josh Sheehan had broken down in training and suffered a serious setback in his recovery from injury and last night’s cameo was evidence of that.

Sheehan also insisted that he was fit and desperate to show what he can do and his late introduction will hopefully put an end to the question-marks over his condition.

He didn’t have enough time to make a big impact on the outcome of the game but there were a few flashes of quality from the former Swansea City youngster and there's hopefully much more to come.