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Newport 1-1 Mansfield: Padraig Amond strike earns County a draw in first leg of play-off semi-final
CJ Hamilton puts Mansfield in front but Padraig Amond scores late equaliser from rebound after Conrad Logan had initially saved his penalty.
Last Updated: 11/05/19 2:14pm
Padraig Amond's late goal earned Newport a 1-1 draw against Mansfield in the first leg of their Sky Bet League Two play-off semi-final at Rodney Parade.
CJ Hamilton had given Mansfield an early lead on Thursday night, but Amond, having seen his penalty saved by Conrad Logan on 83 minutes, followed up to slam the rebound home.
It leaves the game well balanced ahead of the second leg at the One Call Stadium on Sunday evening, which is live on Sky Sports Football from 5.30pm. Kick-off is at 6pm.
Newport were unchanged while David Flitcroft made three changes from Mansfield side that suffered that disappointment at MK Dons on the final day as they lost to miss out on promotion. Ben Turner, Gethin Jones, and Danny Rose came in for Matt Preston, Mal Benning and Willem Tomlinson.
Mansfield start well but Newport fight back
Any questions about whether Mansfield would have been suffering a hangover from their final-day disappointment at MK Dons, in which a defeat cost them automatic promotion, were answered immediately.
Right from the off they took the game to Newport, and the home side were perhaps lucky not to be a man down after six minutes when Mark O'Brien appeared to haul down Tyler Walker as he raced clear. The referee, however, opted to show the defender just a yellow.
Six minutes later Mansfield were in front. Jacob Mellis had the ball 25 yards from goal and he shifted it left to Hamilton, who fired an unstoppable drive inside Joe Day's near post and into the roof of the net.
Newport gradually improved and they could easily have levelled after 33 minutes, were it not for the heroics of goalkeeper Logan, who somehow got down low to his right to lift a Jamille Matt header from close range over the bar, leaving the Newport striker looking aghast at his failure to score.
There were two big moments at either end shortly after half-time, both of which should have resulted in goals. First it was Walker for Mansfield, who raced clear and then rounded the goalkeeper, but his stumble just before his shot allowed Micky Demetriou the opportunity to scramble back to his line and keep it out.
Just a minute later Logan was at it again, getting across to make another super stop, this time denying Amond from point-blank range.
Logan then handed Newport a lifeline late on as he conceded a late penalty for a rash challenge on substitute Ade Azeez. There was an element of controversy about the decision, but the referee pointed to the spot. Amond's initial effort was stopped by the goalkeeper, but he would not be denied on the follow-up, leaving the tie on a knife edge.
Newport: Day (7), Poole (6), Demetriou (6), O'Brien (6), Willmott (7), Butler (6), Dolan (5), Sheehan (6), Bennett (6), Matt (7), Amond (7)
Subs: Azeez (6), Labadie (n/a), Crofts (n/a)
Mansfield: Logan (8), Pearce (7), Turner (7), Sweeney (6), Jones (7), MacDonald (7), Bishop (6), Hamilton (7), Mellis (7), Rose (6), Walker (6)
Subs: Benning (n/a)
Man of the match: Conrad Logan
Man of the match - Conrad Logan
It's a rare thing indeed for a goalkeeper who concedes a late, potentially-crucial penalty to win Man of the match, but it is hard to overlook the rest of Logan's display and the slight controversy of the decision to award the spot-kick.
He made two or three incredible saves and even stopped Amond's effort from 12 yards to almost redeem himself, but he could do nothing about the rebound.
Michael Flynn: "They started better than us. We were caught in the traps and it took us 25 minutes to get into the game, but once we did I thought we were the better team and by the end I thought there would be only one team that would win it.
"It definitely wasn't a red card [for O'Brien] because the ball ran through to the goalkeeper's hands. I think we should have full-time referees who are paid professionals. Why not get the best men for the job?
"But it's all on Mansfield and that's not me playing mind games. They had a chance to go up autoamatically, and we are going to get there and give it our best shot."
David Flitcroft: "Walker is clean through and he is going to catch the ball up because there wasn't enough pace on it. He's been brought down and there are no covering defenders, it's as simple as that. That was early on in the game and it plays a big signifcant part.
"[For the penalty] Conrad has come out got his hand on the ball, made the save and followed through. A million per cent no penalty. But I don't blame the referee. There are 50-60 referees that could have worked tonight, but a high level referee could have been here for a really important game.
"This is a tough place to come, Newport fans are raucous and they get behind everything and a top-level referee could have taken this on and that's probably where the fault lies. The game was probably too big."
The two sides meet back at the One Call Stadium in Mansfield for the second leg on Sunday. Coverage gets under way on Sky Sports Football at 7.30pm and kick-off is at 7.45pm.