NEWPORT County AFC ended their pre-season with an even contest at last season's League Two champions Forest Green.

Manager James Rowberry said before the game that he wanted to test how his side would respond when playing against a more possession-based side.

With that in mind, Rowberry sent out a strong starting eleven in a solid 5-3-2, with Will Evans operating as a left wing back and Omar Bogle and Offrande Zanzala leading the line.

Joe Day got the nod in goal, and was called into action almost immediately, as County failed to clear a ball into the box and the keeper was forced to palm away a close range header from Jamille Matt.

And in a half of few clear-cut chances, it was Day again who proved to be the difference-maker.

Corey O’Keeffe was played through down Forest Green’s right, and pulled the ball back to the edge of the box. David Davis spun his man, and curled a left-footed effort towards the far corner. But Day sprung across to his right and tipped it wide.

There was just one change at the break, as Nick Townsend came on for Day, and he would be called into action immediately.

A ball was played into Jamille Matt around the penalty spot, and the former-County man went down under pressure from Declan Drysdale. Matt stepped up himself and sent Townsend the wrong way.

It could quite easily have been two shortly after, as James Clarke slipped as he attempted to play it back to his keeper. Armani Little seized on it, but hesitated while cutting in onto his right foot. Townsend stood tall before smothering the ball at Little’s feet after that hesitation.

County grabbed a deserved equaliser just before the hour mark, as Rowberry readied four changes.

A low corner was cleared by Forest Green, but following a high cross back in, the ball was knocked on twice before Zanzala was able to direct it home with his head from six yards.

Both sides made a host of changes in the five minutes after the goal, but County’s changes seemed to energise their press.

Aaron Lewis was inches away from connecting with a dangerous Robbie Wilmott cross swung in from the left, and Lewis almost turned provider with a dinked cross in headed back across goal by James Waite, just behind the onrushing attacker.

County should have taken the lead as left wing back Adam Lewis found himself slipped through inside the box on the left wing. However, under little pressure, the Liverpool loanee could only send his effort over.

The hosts almost made County regret that miss, as Cameron Norman – now moved inside to the right of a back three – was forced to clear the ball off the line.

A high ball into the box saw Townsend fumble it over a group of bodies, and the ball was stabbed goalwards, only for Norman to clear.

And County thought they had won it with almost the last kick of the game, with the ball played in from the right and Adam Lewis stabbed it home, only for the assistant to raise his flag.

The draw seemed a fair result, and County will take the positives from seemingly comfortably matching last season’s League Two champions away from home.