IT was a case of little and large at Rodney Parade after pint-sized striker Dom Telford earned Newport County AFC a 2-2 draw against Leyton Orient.

It looked like the visitors were going to win an enthralling League Two clash thanks to a pair of headers by 6ft 5ins striker Harry Smith.

But the Exiles showed spirit to fight their way back to get something from their first EFL game of the season on home soil, and it could even have been more.

They finished on the front foot and an appeal for a second penalty was waved away after Ed Upson seemed to shoved in the back.

County fell behind when giant striker Harry Smith was given a free run to head home a corner after 33 minutes but levelled with the last kick of an entertaining half when captain Matty Dolan scored a penalty won by Timmy Abraham.

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Orient regained their advantage when Smith powered home another header after 52 minutes but the Exiles were able to push for a leveller thanks to the introduction of Priestley Farquharson, who came on to deal with the physical frontman.

It paid off when Telford reacted sharply to slot his second of the week after his stunner in the EFL Trophy win against Plymouth.

When the dust settles, they will feel it is a good point against a strong Orient team that are well-drilled under Kenny Jackett.

Manager Michael Flynn revealed on Friday that County were without seven players for the fixture, although it became apparent at 2pm that not all of them were proper contenders for first-team starts.

The Exiles made four changes to the side that started in Salford with captain Dolan and vice-captain Mickey Demetriou returning in defence with Farquharson and James Clarke dropping to the bench.

Swansea midfielder Ollie Cooper, fresh from his lively debut in the EFL Trophy win against Plymouth, started and Abraham, scorer of the clincher against the Pilgrims, joined him in support of targetman Alex Fisher.

Jermaine Hylton and Chris Missilou missed out on the matchday squad with Finn Azaz, Louis Hall, Jordan Greenidge, Lewis Collins and Kevin Ellison other absentees, although it will remain a private matter whether that was through a positive test, isolation or simply manager’s choice.

Bright prospect Aneurin Livermore was a substitute after pulling the strings impressively from midfield in midweek and was joined on the bench by Liverpool loanee Jake Cain and striker Dom Telford, fresh from a lively display and superb goal against the Pilgrims.

County started with three at the back with Cameron Norman moving to the right centre-back and versatile Robbie Willmott shifting to the right flank.

It didn’t take much for them to make a better start than they had at Salford, when the hosts punished a mistake after 38 seconds, but the Exiles looked sharper.

However, it took a brilliant double save by Joe Day to deny the visitors after 12 minutes, the ‘keeper making himself big to deny Aaron Drinan and then getting up swiftly to block his second effort.

Orient went close but then County followed after a cunning move at a corner with Ollie Cooper playing a one-two with Ryan Haynes, who picked out Dolan’s late run.

He struck it hard and low but Lawrence Vigouroux got down to keep the shot out.

On 21 minutes it was Day to the rescue again when he saved to his right from Craig Clay after a long throw was only cleared to the edge of the box.

Cooper couldn’t find the power in a shot to trouble Vigouroux after an arching run as both teams continued to have their moments in attack but it remained goalless after half an hour.

However, Orient hit the front when Dolan conceded a corner when scrambling in defence and it was whipped in from the right for towering Smith to head in from close range despite the presence of Demetriou.

The giant striker would have been the talk of the week in training and, while it’s undeniably harder on in the middle to stop him, the ease with which he headed in will be frustrating.

The chances kept coming in an entertaining half with Day flying to his right to keep out a left-footed Theo Archibald free-kick from the edge of the box while Alex Fisher failed to head cleanly when found by a cross from the right.

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It looked like County would be playing catch-up in the second half but they levelled with the final kick of the half.

Abraham got his toe to a ball in the box, was clattered by a defender looking to clear and referee Leigh Doughty was given an easy decision. Dolan slotted low to his left with Vigouroux guessing wrong.

The start of the second half featured a minute of applause for both clubs’ former boss Justin Edinburgh – it was earlier than the planned 49 minutes after some fans were triggered into clapping by subs being applauded on their way to warm-up, but it remained a lovely gesture – and it was soon his final team that had the advantage.

Former Swansea midfielder Darren Pratley did brilliantly after bursting into the box and his cross from the left was headed in by Smith – it was a goal from the moment the ball was dinked into the six-yard box.

Flynn responded on the hour by bringing on Telford for Abraham while Farquharson replaced Dolan, who is still getting up to speed after a calf injury, to add physicality to the defence.

That paid off after 73 minutes when the defender continued his good job on the targetman by doing just enough to stop him heading in another wicked cross from the left.

Livermore came on for his EFL debut for the last quarter of an hour but it was almost a two-goal deficit when Clay’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected just wide with Day wrong-footed.

Orient will feel they were good value for their lead but the Exiles were level with 11 minutes to play thanks to Telford, who reacted sharply to Demetriou’s flick-on from a long throw.

County had a shout for a penalty when Upson was barged in the back and pressed for a winner through lively Ollie Cooper, but a point was a fair result from a superb game.

County: Day, Norman, Haynes, Dolan (captain, Farquharson 60), Demetriou, Upson, Bennett (Livermore 74), Willmott, Cooper, Abraham (Telford 60), Fisher.
Substitutes: Townsend, Clarke, Lewis, Cain.
Goal: Dolan (penalty), Telford
Yellow: Bennett

Orient: Vigouroux, James, Wood, Clay, Smith, Archibald, Mitchell, Drinan, Pratley (captain), Beckles, Ogie.
Substitutes: Byrne, Reilly, Kemp, Omotoye, Papadopoulos, Sweeney, Nkrumah.
Goal: Smith (2)

Referee: Leigh Doughty