THERE could be no denying that this draw was two points lost for Newport County AFC after they were frustrated by Colchester United.

Dom Telford burgled a point in Crawley on Tuesday but this time he was denied a winner after keeping his goal streak going in Essex.

The Exiles would have climbed to fifth in League Two ahead of the Saturday fixtures to reward their 83 loyal – and mad?! – fans at the Jobserve Community Stadium but instead they had to settle for remaining in the chasing pack.

Telford has scored crackers and poached and this was the former, curling in a wonderful effort to put the Exiles in front after 36 minutes.

It was the seventh successive league game on the scoresheet for the impish striker, who will be gutted that the league campaign goes on hold while County watch others play in the FA Cup.

He was close to a 14th league strike of the campaign when denied by the post in the second half and the Exiles were hit by a cruel leveller after 77 minutes when Freddie Sears lobbed in from a long ball with goalkeeper Joe Day nowhere.

That ensured it was a frustrating night for County, one that definitely will be filed with the ones that got away.

Colchester undeniably pushed hard in the second half but the Exiles got to a position where they just needed to finish the job, which they didn't do.

South Wales Argus: COUNTER: Ollie Cooper is brought downCOUNTER: Ollie Cooper is brought down

Four County players had accepted the offer of a trip to a cryochamber to prepare for the game after their midweek exertions and 11 of them got a trip to an outdoor one in Essex.

James Rowberry made four changes, two of them enforced due to captain and centre-back Matty Dolan’s concussion and midfielder Ed Upson’s suspension.

That led to recalls for stalwarts Scot Bennett, after a 10-week absence because of a foot injury, and Robbie Willmott, back after testing positive for coronavirus.

Ryan Haynes also came in for Aaron Lewis down the left and Courtney Baker-Richardson, a sub in midweek after a heavy workload, returned up front for Kevin Ellison.

Colchester featured Armando Dobra, who was lively for Ipswich against County in the League Cup in August, in the starting line-up while former Exiles Frank Nouble and Shawn McCoulsky were on the bench.

The presence of Bennett, or Dolan for that matter, in the County side means there is always the element of surprise when it comes to formation.

They started in a 3-5-2 in Essex, as they had started in Crawley, and Willmott was immediately an influence as they looked to move the ball sharply.

However, it was the hosts that had the first effort on goal when Dobra fired just past Joe Day’s right post with a powerful drive after 10 minutes.

Colchester right-back Cameron Coxe was fortunate to escape a booking after a theatrical dive from a driving run into the box and it remained 0-0.

Rowberry said his side were shot-shy in Crawley and it took 18 minutes until they managed to test home goalkeeper Jake Turner and he was up to the task, twice.

Finn Azaz played a majestic through ball to Ollie Cooper, who prodded at goal only for Turner to block and then get up swiftly to also deny Baker-Richardson.

The ‘keeper was also up to the task when Haynes curled in a long-range free-kick after Cooper was crudely hacked down by Noah Chilvers to become the first player cautioned, soon followed into the book by County’s James Clarke after he stopped a counter-attack approaching the half hour.

The Exiles, just like on Tuesday, were still searching that magic moment in the final third and it came after 36 minutes.

Centre-back James Clarke did superbly to rob Dobra high up the pitch and he played in Telford, who cut back onto his favoured left and curled in a wonderful finish that gave Turner no chance.

The Exiles were good value for their lead but wasted a chance to double the advantage when the goalscorer rejected the chance of having another strike in favour of playing in Azaz but his pass was too heavy, much to Rowberry’s frustration.

County started the second half with a one-goal advantage and couldn’t afford to go into their shells, and could have stretched their lead after 50 minutes.

Haynes crossed superbly from the left but Baker-Richardson scuffed his left-footed volley on the penalty spot.

The game was stretched and Freddie Sears flashed the ball across the Exiles’ goal before Telford hit the left post with a curling effort, both moments in the 55th minute.

County couldn’t afford any mistakes… but Willmott got away with one when pickpocketed in midfield only for Cameron Norman to recover superbly just as Colchester looked set to strike on goal.

Rowberry resisted the temptation to freshen up from the bench while the hosts brought on McCoulsky, he of the FA Cup winner against Leeds, with 15 minutes to go.

Yet it was County that had the next opening with Baker-Richardson denied after slamming in a shot at the near post.

How they regretted that save after a long ball caught them out with Joe Day in no-man’s land to allow Sears to dink past the goalkeeper and make it 1-1 with 12 minutes to go.

There was still no action on the bench despite the draining week and the clock passed 90 with both teams still going for the winner. Nobody got to be the hero.

Colchester: Turner, Chambers, Smith, Hannant, Skuse, Sears, Chilvers, Jasper, Dobra, Daniels, Coxe.

Substitutes: Gerken, Welch-Hayes, Nouble, Judge, McCoulsky, Eastman, Tchamadeu.

Yellow: Chilvers Goal: Sears County: Day, Clarke, Bennett, Demetriou (captain), Norman, Haynes, Willmott, Azaz, Cooper, Telford, Baker-Richardson.

Substitutes not used: Townsend, Lewis, Ellison, Cain, Collins, Fisher, Abraham.

Yellow: Clarke, Cooper

Goal: Telford

Referee: Christopher Pollard

Attendance: 2,401 (83 away)