NEWPORT County AFC added to their strong start on the road in League Two by sharing the spoils with early pace-setters Harrogate Town.

All the goals in a 2-2 draw at Wetherby Road came in the first half with the Exiles digging deep to leave Yorkshire with something to show for their efforts.

It was level-pegging at the break after County were pegged back twice.

Scot Bennett opened the scoring with a smart strike after two minutes only for Jack Muldoon to level from a long ball after 33.

Robbie Willmott headed the Exiles back in front just before half-time but they couldn’t take the advantage into the second half, striker Luke Armstrong slamming in a rebound.

The second half was a more cagey affair with Harrogate having the better openings without causing Joe Day too much stress.

It ended up being a job well done by Michael Flynn’s side, totting up another point after a strong August away from Rodney Parade.

It was a proper examination against a lively and energetic Harrogate side high on confidence after four wins and a draw.

County stood firm to add to their wins against Oldham and Tranmere – they have now bagged seven points from games that yielded just two in 2020/21.

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Flynn made one change to the side that drew with Leyton Orient with Priestley Farquharson rewarded for a strong showing off the bench.

The centre-back came in for forward Timmy Abraham, meaning that Cameron Norman shifted to right wing-back and Willmott was an attacking midfielder.

Abraham dropped to the bench where he was joined by Finn Azaz, who was back from coronavirus or isolation and was included instead of ill teenage midfielder Aneurin Livermore.

County made a nightmare start in Salford a fortnight ago but this time they hit the front early on courtesy of Bennett.

Willmott took a corner from the right in the third minute, Harrogate’s George Thomson could only glance it on and the midfielder finished with control and precision with his left foot.

The perfect start but Flynn and Wayne Hatswell would have been urging their players to not sit on the lead against dangerous hosts.

The Yorkshiremen got into some dangerous positions to put balls into the box but County, with Farquharson, Dolan and Demetriou reunited in defence, dealt with them.

The Exiles needed to avoid giving free-kicks away down the flanks and got a warning shot after 19 minutes when Warren Burrell won a header but could only direct it straight at Joe Day.

That was followed by midfielder Alex Pattison curling a shot from distance over the bar before Willmott drove a dangerous cross in from the left that went untouched after being found by a delightful Ollie Cooper ball.

Another County corner produced a chance for the second on 25 minutes, this time from the left and Ryan Haynes, but midfielder Ed Upson couldn’t hit the target with his header.

They could have been 2-0 up but they were glad to still be in the lead after half an hour.

Harrogate broke down the left and Jack Diamond fired in a cross that was neatly flicked on target by Muldoon only for Day to react superbly to save with his right foot.

However, the forward wasn’t denied after 33 minutes with a hugely frustrating leveller that was similar to Mansfield’s winner in August – long ball, flick-on and finish.

South Wales Argus:

The teams then traded goals before the break with Willmott heading home Norman’s cross after 38 minutes only for Armstrong, one of Flynn’s summer targets, to slam home a rebound on 43 minutes after Day saved excellently from Muldoon.

County made a change of personnel and formation at the break with captain Dolan replaced by Azaz with the Aston Villa loanee slotting into midfield and Flynn switching to a flat four.

Harrogate still had the slight edge without creating clear chances at it remained 2-2 past the hour, with the Exiles’ main threat coming from Norman’s long throws.

The hosts were a real threat on the break and the deeper midfield duo of Upson and Bennett were being given a workout of the lungs and mind.

County still carried a threat and it took a strong right hand from goalkeeper Mark Oxley to deny Alex Fisher’s powerful drive from 35 yards with 20 minutes left.

The Exiles were forced into a change for the closing stages when Norman limped off to be replaced by Aaron Lewis, a blow that forced a rethink after striker Dom Telford had been getting ready to come on.

Harrogate won a free-kick in a dangerous position with five minutes left, with Demetriou cautioned for taking his man out on the counter, but substitute Danilo Orsi could only flick over Day’s bar.

That was as close as the leaders came, ensuring it was a content County squad that headed straight back on the coach home.

Harrogate: Oxley, Page, Falkingham (captain), Burrell, Thomson, Pattison, Muldoon, Hall, Diamond, McArdle, Armstrong.
Substitutes: Fallowfield, Smith, Orsi, Cracknell, Kerry, Power.
Goals: Muldoon, Armstong

County: Day, Farquharson, Dolan (captain, Azaz 45), Demetriou, Norman (Lewis 76), Haynes, Upson, Bennett, Cooper, Willmott, Fisher (Abraham 84).
Substitutes: Townsend, Clarke, Cain, Abraham, Telford.
Goals: Bennett, Willmott
Yellow: Demetriou 

Referee: Sam Allison