NEWPORT County AFC lost a rollercoaster Trophy tie against West Ham United under-21s 5-4, having led 4-1 at the break, and also lost striker Tristan Abrahams to injury.

Abrahams had started the game superbly, scoring the first and making the second for Corey Whitely, but he was forced off after just 21 minutes with a hamstring problem.

The 20-year-old front man had helped an inexperienced Exiles side come back from a goal down after the Hammers youngsters had taken a shock lead after just 57 seconds.

Abrahams poked in an equaliser in the 10th minute, his second of the season, after Matty Dolan's free-kick was headed on by Kyle Howkins.

He then turned his marker and crossed for Whitely to score his first goal for the club two minutes later.

Academy graduate Lewis Collins made it 3-1 in the 32nd minute with his first goal in senior football and substitute Ryan Hillier, another youngster who had replaced Abrahams, slotted in a fourth three minutes before the break to put the Exiles in total control.

But an incredible second-half fightback from the Hammers robbed County of the £10,000 prize money and left manager Michael Flynn pulling his hair out on the touchline.

Flynn made nine changes from Saturday’s 2-0 win at Forest Green Rovers, with only Abrahams and Dolan retaining their starting spots.

Right-back Daniel Leadbitter captained the side on his home debut, while there were competitive debuts for Marvel Ekpiteta and academy players Dom Jefferies and Elis Watts from the start and Hillier and Ioan Evans off the bench.

It was a shocking start as Dolan lost possession on the edge of the box and Nick Townsend could only push Bernardo Rosa’s shot out to Anthony Scully, who slotted in the opener for West Ham inside the first minute of the match.

But County turned things around quickly, with Taylor Maloney twice going close and Howkins heading over from a corner before Abrahams levelled from close range and then teed up Whitely for the second.

It was almost 3-1 soon afterwards but Hammers goalkeeper Joseph Anang did well to keep out a fierce drive from the Whitely, who impressed in the first half.

Rosa fired a volley just off target and forced Townsend into a fine fingertip save at the other end before Reece Hannam’s cross-shot ended up in the side netting.

County then appeared to take a decisive hold on the match before the break as Collins fired into the bottom corner when another Dolan free-kick was only half cleared and Hillier (below) finished off a superb move from close range after Dolan had picked out Jefferies with a sublime pass.

South Wales Argus:

They didn’t make the most of their advantage in the second half, however, and they allowed the visitors to force their way back into the contest.

Collins conceded a silly penalty and Powell made it 4-2 before Parkes was allowed too much space and time to head home the seventh goal of a crazy game at Rodney Parade.

Powell almost made it 4-4 when he headed inches wide and Flynn sent on Ryan Inniss in place of Collins to add some more authority and experience at the back.

Ekpiteta should have sealed the win on the hour when he had a free header from a corner but couldn’t hit the target.

But the visitors were growing in confidence as the game went on and they deservedly levelled seven minutes from time when substitute Kai Corbett fired past Townsend.

Just when everyone was contemplating a penalty shootout, Scully completed a remarkable comeback with his second and the visitors’ fifth in the 88th minute.

And there was still time for Inniss to be sent off in stoppage time after an altercation in the Hammers box as the evening ended in dismay and disappointment for the Exiles.

County: Townsend; Leadbitter, Ekpiteta, Howkins, Watts; Jefferies, Maloney, Dolan (Evans, 46); Whitely, Abrahams (Hillier, 21), Collins (Inniss, 59)

Subs nots used: King, Labadie, Sheehan

Referee: John Busby

Attendance: 581

Argus star man: Whitely