NEWPORT County AFC had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their League Two opener after coming from behind at Sutton United thanks to a goal on debut by Omar Bogle.

Sutton hit the front in the 24th minute at Gander Green Lane when striker Omar Bugiel reacted sharply to a shot that came off the underside of the bar.

The hosts deserved their lead but were pegged back after 37 minutes when near-namesake Bogle headed in powerfully from a long throw.

The striker had the best chance of the second half to put County in front but failed in a one-on-one and late Exiles pressure didn’t lead to a dramatic winner to match Kevin Ellison’s header at Oldham a year ago.

In the end it represented a solid point on the road to start the campaign ahead of next week’s reunion with Michael Flynn and his Walsall side.

County and Sutton were both play-off contenders last season and it is too early to judge whether they can be the same again.

However, James Rowberry will be content with their first outing with a good response to going behind and some lively performances, most notably forward Offrande Zanzala.

There are plenty of work-ons – and he will want more from his midfield – but this is a good starting point.

On the whole the Exiles were solid and they will look to add more enterprise as combinations develop in the final third.

South Wales Argus:

Six of County’s eight summer signings were named in the starting line-up with two more on the bench.

As expected, central defender Declan Drysdale, midfielders Sam Bowen and Aaron Wilding and strikers Omar Bogle and Offrande Zanzala started while there was a minor surprise with Will Evans, brought in from Bala as a forward, getting the nod ahead of Aaron and Adam Lewis at left wing-back.

Nick Townsend was preferred to Joe Day in goal while captain Matty Dolan was at the heart of defence, perhaps a selection that only happened because of James Clarke’s hip injury.

It was a clean sweep of debutants in the away matchday squad with Liverpool’s Lewis on the bench along with fellow loanee Chanka Zimba, with EFL clubs now able to use five of their seven subs.

Townsend was in action in the fourth minute after Mickey Demetriou clattered Will Randall on the edge of the box.

Rob Milsom hit the target but the ‘keeper dived sharply to his left to make a good stop, albeit one you would expect him to make.

Zanzala was working hard for County, who failed to make the most of a number of set piece opportunities and they fell behind in the 24th minute.

Drysdale was caught out down the right and Donavan Wilson smashed a superb shot against the underside of the bar from the cutback. At first it looked like the Exiles had escaped but Bugiel reacted sharply to prod in the opener.

South Wales Argus:

County had been second best and needed to react, and did just that through their own Omar.

Demetriou launched a throw into the box in the 38th minute and Bogle met it powerfully with his superb header going in off the left post.

Ten minutes of added time were played but it remained 1-1 after a hard Scot Bennett drive from the edge of the box was blocked on the penalty spot.

Rowberry would have wanted more from his side – especially the midfield – and the boss had plenty of options to add energy from the bench.

Sutton started on the front foot in the second half but County looked a threat on the break through the seriously rapid Zanzala and powerful Bogle.

Neither ‘keeper was forced into serious action as the game passed the hour with Rowberry yet to change his XI unlike Sutton who lost Louis John and Will Randall to injury in the first half.

The Exiles should have hit the front after 64 minutes when Zanzala did well and Bogle was through on goal but his left-footed effort was tame and straight at Jack Rose, then Wildig scuffed a shot from the rebound close to the penalty spot.

That led to a Sutton response with Wilson turning before slamming in a powerful left-footed drive from distance that forced Townsend into an excellent save down to his right.

Rowberry still resisted the temptation to tinker, although bookings for midfielders Bowen and Bennett gave food for thought as the clock went into the 70s.

Josh Neufville almost restored Sutton’s lead after 77 minutes but his header from a dinked cross from the left wing glanced against the top of the bar.

County made their first changes with 10 to go with Robbie Willmott on for Bowen and Bogle replaced by Lewis Collins.

The Exiles finishes strongly with Dolan twice denied from free-kicks and Willmott firing over from just inside the box.

It could have been three points but County had to settle for a hard-earned draw.

Sutton: Rose, Goodliffe, John, Boldewijn, Smith, Bugiel, Randall, Eastmond (captain), Kizzi, Milsom, Wilson.
Subs: House, Barden, Rowe, Beautyman, Neufville, Kouassi, Thomas.
Yellow: Goodliffe, Bugiel, Rowe.

County: Townsend, Drysdale, Dolan (captain), Demetriou, Norman, Evans, Bowen (Willmott 80), Bennett, Wildig, Bogle (Collins 80), Zanzala (Zimba 90).
Subs not used: Day, Adam Lewis, Aaron Lewis, Waite.
Yellow: Norman, Bowen, Bennett.

Referee: Sam Purkiss
Attendance: 3,169 (483 County)