NEWPORT County AFC were forced to settle for a share of the spoils in their League Two opener at Scunthorpe United.

The Exiles were good value for a 1-0 half-time lead courtesy of a scrambled goal that was claimed by both Tristan Abrahams and Ryan Taylor, with the latter accredited with the strike that opens his account for the club.

However, they were pegged back in the second half when they tried to play out from the back and the ball fell to Ryan Loft, who slammed home a terrific strike for the Iron.


County had late chances – the best a free header from a corner for Kyle Howkins that he directed down and over the bar – but could not win their first League Two opener since beating Accrington in 2013.

Here are the talking points from the clash at Glanford Park…

South Wales Argus: UNDER PRESSURE: Josh Sheehan goes on the attack for NewportUNDER PRESSURE: Josh Sheehan goes on the attack for Newport


Manager Michael Flynn said before heading up to Lincolnshire that he had some welcome selection headaches and one of those would have been in goal.

Nick Townsend made 14 appearances last season with just five of those in League Two. Tom King was a hit in his first season at Rodney Parade, enjoying 35 outings and earning a Wales call-up.

Yet the roles have been reversed at the start of 2020/21 with Townsend getting the nod against Swansea and Scunthorpe while King had to be content with being between the sticks against Cheltenham in the EFL Trophy.

After a clean sheet against the Swans – and he made a key save from Wayne Routledge early in the second half – it was no surprise that the *-year-old started at Glanford Park.

Townsend did well again. after one early misplaced pass he was a calm presence, handled well and produced with two good saves with his right leg while the game was goalless.

He had no chance with the goal and will expect to continue as Flynn’s number one, albeit with 30 on his back.

South Wales Argus: OPENER: Tristan Abrahams celebrated but Ryan Taylor was credited with Newport's openerOPENER: Tristan Abrahams celebrated but Ryan Taylor was credited with Newport's opener


County started the season with a 2-0 win against the Swans but Flynn, while delighted with another cup upset, felt it should have been even more convincing.

The theme continued in the 1-0 loss to Cheltenham with golden chances blown and numerous shots flying high and wide.

The Exiles made pressure count with the opener against Scunthorpe when Abrahams’ backheel flick after good work down the left by Josh Sheehan went in off Ryan Taylor.

That came after Howkins had headed into the side netting from a corner and it was followed by plenty of good openings when County didn’t make the right choice or snatched at things.

Some of the play at 1-0 was lovely and the side had a nice balance, but things changed in the second half.

Nonetheless, County rallied late on and Howkins should have scored only to head down and over from close range and then somehow the ball was cleared from a scramble after another corner.

The Exiles are hunting a cutting edge and it will be interest to see how unused sub Padraig Amond is used in the opening weeks of the season.

The Irishman blew a simple chance himself against Cheltenham but has been County’s best finisher when winning their golden boot for the last three seasons.

South Wales Argus: FRUSTRATED: Michael Flynn felt County dropped off in the second halfFRUSTRATED: Michael Flynn felt County dropped off in the second half


Matty Dolan was superb at the heart of the defence against the Swans, making good decisions and commanding fellow centre backs Mickey Demetriou and Howkins.

He picked up where he left off at Glanford Park, although the Loft made life awkward at times.

Dolan’s departure through injury was felt by the Exiles at the start of the second half – they didn’t look as settled at the back and there was too much space between defence and midfield.

The Scunthorpe goal came from an ambitious Demetriou pass across the field being picked off and then Loft getting too much time, although the strike was incredible.

Dolan’s replacement Brandon Cooper looks a good prospect but the Exiles, who shifted Howkins to the middle of the three, took time to settle without the ball after Dolan’s exit.

The 27-year-old is unlikely to be fit for the Carabao Cup fixture against Cambridge on Tuesday and it will be interesting to see if Flynn sticks with a three or goes to a back four.

The eventual return of Scot Bennett, who hasn’t featured since the pre-season game at Hereford, will also be a boost, whether he’s in defence or protecting it.

South Wales Argus: BATTLE: Brandon Cooper tussles with Ryan LoftBATTLE: Brandon Cooper tussles with Ryan Loft


County’s summer recruitment work looks to be good with Flynn aiming to further add to his squad.

Loanee Scott Twine has slotted in nicely, Saikou Janneh added energy in Lincolnshire and Cooper looks a promising defender.

Taylor claimed the goal in Scunthorpe and impressed with some link-up play while veteran forward Kevin Ellison will add value when up to speed.

However, the pick of the bunch so far looks to be Liam Shephard, who has made an encouraging start to life as an Exile after following in the footsteps of his dad Gary and brother Corey.

Shephard is tidy down the right and has a bit of bite to go along with the nice touches and energy.

It will also be interesting to see how Ashley Baker responds to his arrival.