NEWPORT County AFC dropped points for the first time at Rodney Parade this season and could have no complaints after sharing the spoils with Walsall.

The League Two leaders were aiming to make it a perfect seven but were unable to snatch another late win against a Saddlers side who had lost four on the spin but certainly didn’t look like strugglers.

Walsall had done their homework on County and put the back three under serious pressure as they tried to play out.

It led to the energetic Midlanders pinning their hosts back and having the better of the first half, and they opened the scoring when Elijah Adebayo drove past Nick Townsend from inside the box after 21 minutes.

The lead didn’t last long courtesy of a clanger by visiting ‘keeper Liam Roberts, who fumbled a speculative Scott Twine long-ranger into his own net almost straight from the restart.

County, who were unable to exploit space on the counter, were lucky to be level at the break but the second half was an even, cagey contest before they ended on top.

Unlike against Mansfield, Colchester, Harrogate and Port Vale, there was no drama at the death.

Twine wasted the best opportunity when he showed that his head isn’t quite as threatening as his right boot, missing the target from close range when unmarked in the 80th minute.

A Matty Dolan free-kick then deflected just past the post, leaving County to settle for a mixture of frustration and relief after a tough tussle.

They go again versus Salford in Newport in the FA Cup on Saturday before the short trip to fellow high-fliers Forest Green Rovers next week, while their lead remains three points courtesy of Cheltenham and Cambridge's draw.

South Wales Argus:

Michael Flynn made two changes to the side that struck late against Port Vale, although last-gasp hero Kevin Ellison once again had to be content with a spot on the bench.

Captain Joss Labadie came into midfield for the more attacking Jamie Devitt, adding a physical presence in between Josh Sheehan and Scott Twine, while Padraig Amond got the nod ahead of leading scorer Tristan Abrahams.

Walsall headed to Newport on a four-game losing streak in all competitions while the Exiles had their perfect record on home soil.

County might be setting the pace but there was no danger of complacency, especially given the late winners that had earned an 18-point haul that could easily have been 10.

Walsall headed out early, before the officials and hosts, to do some shuttle runs and perhaps that heled them to make a strong start, albeit one that didn’t test Exiles goalkeeper Nick Townsend.

County have been firing in the shots all season but didn’t hit their straps with their solitary effort a Scott Twine free-kick that flew into the face of Dan Scarr in the wall.

The clock hit 20 with that as the only shot on goal, referee Charles Breakspear’s whistle blown frequently for niggly fouls.

Things then went bonkers for a few minutes.

South Wales Argus:

Walsall opened the scoring with a lovely driven finish by Adebayo after he was put through by Rory Holden, despite Mickey Demetriou’s attempt at a foul.

County responded immediately, but they shouldn’t have. A free-kick was won straight from the restart and it was taken short for Twine to try from a long, long way out.

He’s hit some cracking shots this season but this wasn’t one of them, but goalkeeper Liam Roberts fumbled it into his net.

The Saddlers had golden chances to restore their lead after pressuring Matty Dolan into a pair of mistakes only for Emmanuel Osadebe to scuff a shot wide inside the box and for a three-on-two counter attack to be wasted.

Defenders Brandon Cooper and Mickey Demetriou were booked after crude challenges and the Exiles were fortunate to be on level terms at the break.

Flynn left things as they were and County managed to push up the field after the resumption, both keepers again having a quiet start.

Twine scuffed a shot from around the penalty spot approaching the hour after good work by Liam Shephard and Amond down the right.

Playmaker Josh Sheehan was a growing force for County but it remained a tense tussle entering the final quarter with Adebayo firing well over from Osadebe’s smart chest down.

Twine scored from distance in the first half but missed from close range when, unmarked, he nodded wide from a superb cross by sub Robbie Willmott.

The forward was then brought down right on the edge of the box – a correct call by Mr Breakspear despite claims for a penalty – and Dolan’s hammered effort deflected just wide in the 88th minute.

Walsall ended on the front foot with a trio of corners but it was a point apiece – a fair result.

Newport: Townsend, Cooper, Dolan, Demetriou, Shephard (Willmott 77), Haynes (Devitt 77), Sheehan, Labadie (captain), Twine, Amond (Ellison 83), Proctor (Abrahams63).

Substitutes: King, Bennett, Janneh.

Yellow cards: Cooper, Demetriou

Goals: Twine

Walsall: Roberts, Norman, Holden, Scarr, Clarke (captain), Kinsella, Osadebe, Adebayo, Jules, Scrimshaw, Bates.

Substitutes: Rose, Guthrie, Sinclair, Lavery, McDonald, White, Nolan.

Yellow cards: Clarke

Goals: Adebayo

Referee: Charles Breakspear