PADRAIG Amond cancelled out CJ Hamilton's first-half opener as Newport County AFC and Mansfield Town battled to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their League Two play-off semi-final. Here are the talking points...

Big decisions went County’s way

There was a lot of anger from the home fans at Rodney Parade towards referee Charles Breakspear, but the key moments went in the Exiles’ favour.

Mark O’Brien could easily have been sent off for hauling down Tyler Walker as he raced through on goal in only the fifth minute.

And the late penalty was also debateable. To the naked eye from the Rodney Road Stand it looked like a soft one.

TV replays show that Ade Azeez did get a touch on the ball before Conrad Logan does and the goalkeeper’s momentum took him into the striker, but it’s one that could have gone either way.

South Wales Argus:

Amond the man for the big occasion

Manager Michael Flynn was preparing to substitute his top scorer before the penalty decision but he rightly put that decision on hold and was rewarded with the equalising goal.

It wasn’t a great penalty from Amond but he was alert when Logan made the save and was first to the rebound to claim his 23rd goal of the season.

It was only the second goal in 12 games for the Irishman but he proved once again that he is the man for the big occasion and should boost his confidence ahead of Sunday’s showdown.

Subs made a big impact again

Azeez came off the bench to set up Jamille Matt for the equaliser at Morecambe on Saturday, and it was his persistence that won the penalty to help his side level against Mansfield.

Joss Labadie also made big difference when he replaced Scot Bennett in midfield for the final 20 minutes.

The former skipper added more cutting edge from the middle of the pitch and he twice went close to scoring. Surely, if he’s fit enough, Labadie has to start in Mansfield.

All to play for at Field Mill

You’d have to say that it is advantage Mansfield ahead of the second leg, but only just.

The Stags will be confident that they can finish the job in a one-off decider at Field Mill, especially as County have only ever won twice there – going all the way back to 1937.

But the away goals rule is not in use in the play-offs and the Exiles will believe that they can extend their 11-game unbeaten run and edge past the favourites, who may feel the weight of expectancy in front of their own fans.