KEEPER Tom King scored one but conceded another as Newport County AFC had to settle for a point at League Two promotion rivals Cheltenham Town.

King won back his starting spot from Nick Townsend thanks to his heroics against Brighton in the FA Cup yet he was on the scoresheet in the 12th minute at Whaddon Road, with an assist from the wind and greasy surface.

A thumped goal-kick kissed the pitch and looped over opposite number Josh Griffiths. It sparked wild celebrations from the men in amber but a more reserved salute from their stopper in purple, who was keen to stick to the rules of the Goalkeepers’ Union.

The hope was that the effort – which was freakish, so shouldn’t challenge Scott Twine for County’s goal of the season – would earn a first League Two win since the success at strugglers Grimsby on December 8.

Yet it was cancelled out on the stroke of half-time when Matty Blair, a scorer against County for York in the 2012 FA Trophy final, exploited sloppy defending.

The Exiles had to settle for a point against another side likely to be in contention for promotion and Michael Flynn’s side haven’t won since beating struggling Grimsby away on December 8.

South Wales Argus:

It is a result to add to January nerves – County’s push for League One hinges on a strong finish to the transfer window.

The exits of loanees Jamie Proctor and Jamie Devitt were confirmed on Tuesday afternoon, taking the number of departures to seven.

County were in a position of strength as 2020 came to a close but are now looking vulnerable if bodies cannot be added, especially after the loss of key men Brandon Cooper and Scott Twine.

Flynn will be backed in the transfer market but also needs luck to get his targets in after starting his recruitment drive with Swansea midfielder Jack Evans and raw forwards Jake Scrimshaw and Owen Windsor from Bournemouth and West Brom.

The manager would have been plotting his next moves whether it was win, lose or draw at Whaddon Road.

However, thoughts of recruitment had to wait until 9pm and Flynn made two changes to the side that battled for a draw against Salford.

Josh Sheehan started his suspension for the dangerous tackle that led to a red card against the Ammies with Robbie Willmott taking his place while Padraig Amond got the nod ahead of Ryan Taylor up front.

The Exiles would have been hoping that this weekend’s mouth-watering FA Cup tie with Manchester City was in the back of Cheltenham minds, with Michael Duff’s men desperate to avoid injury or a ban.

South Wales Argus:

There was no sign of that from the off with the Robins bright and immediately on the front foot, going close in the fourth minute when Will Boyle failed to hit the target from Matty Blair’s whipped cross.

County had to adapt to life without the comforting presence of Sheehan in front of the defence but their keeper with an unexpected eye for the other goal helped settle the nerves with his freak effort.

King followed that with what he paid for with a stunning fingertip save from Alfie May’s volley, earning congratulations from the forward, and a strong one-handed stop from Finn Azaz’s deflected effort.

County were being tested at their end and were threatening sporadically at the other, where Jake Scrimshaw’s work rate was mightily impressive.

Cheltenham’s pace on the break was causing problems but it looked like they would go into the break behind, only to strike at the very end of four minutes added on.

It was a poor one to concede that is likely to earn the defence a rebuke in analysis – Griffiths’ long clearance was flicked on and Blair, who scored York’s opener in the 2012 FA Trophy final against County, was past Ryan Haynes and in on goal, able to drive past King from the right.

Cheltenham started the half on the front foot and it took a last-ditch interception by Matty Dolan to deny a chance after Haynes was too loose with possession.

The game was in the balance and Flynn rolled the dice on 66 minutes with a triple change to freshen things up, forwards Tristan Abrahams, Owen Windsor and Ryan Taylor on for Willmott, Amond and Scrimshaw.

County switched to a 4-3-3 with Dolan sitting in front of the defence and the new men adding energy in the forward line.

The visitors enjoyed a spell in the ascendancy in the new shape but the game remained level in the closing stage, and neither side could force a winner.

Cheltenham: Griffiths, Hussey, Tozer (captain), Raglan, Thomas, May, Blair, Boyle, Azaz, Lloyd, Chapman.

Substitutes: Harris Long, Bowry, Clements, Williams, Addai, Chamberlain.

Goals: Blair County: King, Longe-King, Dolan, Demetriou, Shephard, Haynes, Bennett, Labadie (captain), Willmott (Abrahams 66), Scrimshaw (Windsor 66), Amond (Taylor 66).

Substitutes: Townsend, Baker, Evans, Collins.

Goals: King Referee: Peter Wright