Newport fought back from two goals down on Saturday to claw back a very important point against Alton.
Weather conditions were not conducive to fast flowing football with a car park temperature of 37.5 degrees and a 3g pitch bouncing the heat back up to add another couple of degrees it was no surprise that there were short drink breaks in each half.
The Port welcomed back captain Martin McDonough into midfield and the leader had an outstanding match having not played since April.
Alton kicked off and were immediately on the offensive. Keen to press the home advantage they were getting the ball forward quickly and firing shots in one of which brought a great flying save from Port’s young keeper Ryan Hall.
A few of the Newport players were struggling to keep their feet as they came to terms with the surface and ultimately it was a slip that was to lead to a goal for Alton on 18 minutes. Newport were passing the ball out of defence and a Port player slipped up allowing the ball to run through to an Alton player. They were quick to get it out wide and break down the flank and get a cross in that was tucked away by Steve Black.
The Port were struggling to get the ball into the box and the nearest they came to scoring was a 25 yarder from Joe Craig which was dipping under the bar only for the Alton keeper to tip it over.
Alton continued to dominate the game , breaking quickly and getting in to very good positions which fortunately they did not take advantage of and would surely come to regret. When they did hit the target Ryan Hall and his defenders were there to stop any further score in the half.
HT: Alton 1 Newport 0
The match resumed more or less where it had left off and on 55 minutes Alton doubled their lead. A move down the left hand side resulted in a bit of a scramble and the ball bounced across goal to the unmarked Callum Burch who was able to sidefoot it into the net.
At that point things started to get a bit heated and after a confrontation with the referee , Mark Taylor received a yellow card. It was to be the turning point of the game because the same player was able to channel his anger and frustration into his performance. He started to get forward more with his mazy runs and on 63 minutes wound his way through the Alton defence before curling a fine shot into the net that gave the keeper no chance.
This was the pickup that Newport needed and suddenly the tide had turned, Alton were more on the back foot and the Port were looking for the equaliser. Andy Sampson brought on Craig Castle for George Holmes to introduce fresh legs out wide.
This was to come on 76 minutes when a curling cross from the left was met by Jared Wetherick and his header passed right through the hands of the Alton keeper into the net.
Newport brought on teenager Louie Fleming for another teenager Neo Lamb who was struggling with an ankle problem. Lewis Wright dropped in as an emergency left back and was later to produce a superb tackle to deny a clear goalscoring opportunity to an Alton striker.
Both teams went on the attack for the final quarter hour and had half chances but the score remained at 2-2. Newport will be the happier, the second half saw a great comeback and fighting spirit that will be needed this season. Our young players showed they have the ability to perform at this level and just need time to gain experience and confidence. Our experienced players showed they have the desire to work and grind out results as we embark on that journey.
FT: Alton 2 Newport 2
Newport : Ryan Hall, Alex Harmer, Neo Lamb (Louie Fleming), Martin McDonough (c), Caleb Charlesworth, Scott Sampson, Lewis Wright, George Holmes (Craig Castle), Jared Wetherick, Joe Craig, Mark Taylor.
Referee: Luke Pullen