Accrington Stanley 3 Newport County 3
THERE was no shortage of entertainment, but Accrington Stanley will want to forget their encounters with Newport County this season after an injury time equaliser denied them victory.
While the crowd witnessed six goals in an enthralling match that swung back and forth, James Beattie cut a frustrated figure at full time.
The Stanley boss had wanted payback for a 4-1 defeat in south Wales on the opening day of the season.
He thought they had got it, too, when Peter Murphy headed his second goal of the game to put Stanley 3-2 in front with only two minutes left.
But a lapse in concentration at the back in stoppage time allowed Lee Minshull to bag a late leveller, as the Reds drew a third successive home match.
Stanley returned to action for the first time in 10 days, after the postponement of last weekend’s game at Portsmouth, and were able to welcome back keeper Marcus Bettinelli after he resumed his loan from Fulham but Newport needed only 11 minutes to go ahead.
Luke Joyce appeared to be unfairly penalised for a tackle that won the ball, before Robbie Willmott lashed the free kick straight through a gap in the wall and into the corner.
Stanley quickly found their feet and Murphy thought he should have had a penalty when he went down under a challenge from Tom Naylor.
Referee Dean Whitestone waved away the appeal, but Murphy had only a minute to wait before he struck the Reds’ equaliser.
The midfielder darted into the box and was found by Webber’s clever slide-rule pass, before firing past Lenny Pidgeley into the corner.
There was another moment of controversy when Stanley players confronted Rene Howe – sent off for a challenge on Dean Winnard two seasons ago while playing for Torquay – as the striker left Bettinelli in agony after a late tackle. This time Howe received a yellow card.
Stanley came close to going ahead when Kayode Odejayi nodded Nicky Hunt’s cross back across goal and Piero Mingoia’s header was tipped over the bar by Pidgeley.
The Reds were full value for their advantage when they took a 2-1 lead just before half time.
Murphy was the provider on this occasion, crossing from the right for Kal Naismith to beat keeper Pidgeley to the ball and head home from close range.
Newport posed a great threat after the interval and Conor Washington felt he should have had a spot kick when he went down under Hunt’s challenge.
Webber was soon denied by Pidgeley at the other end after a neat lay-off from Odejayi, but the visitors levelled as Washington’s pass played in midfielder Ryan Burge, who dispatched a low finish.
The game looked like it could go either way at that point, but Stanley looked to have landed the decisive blow two minutes from time.
Laurence Wilson swung in a corner from the right and Murphy rose highest to head the ball into the far corner for his seventh goal of the season.
As the match ticked into injury time, though, Willmott’s left-wing cross evaded the Stanley defence and Minshull was able to turn the ball home.
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