IT REALLY was a game of two halves in London on Saturday, as Michael Flynn’s Newport County AFC were undone by a quickfire double and on the wrong end of a controversial refereeing decision.

The Exiles go to Salford City on Tuesday night after seeing their four-point lead at the top of League Two cut to three following the 2-1 loss to Leyton Orient and Cheltenham Town’s draw.

Saturday had started so well for County when they went 1-0 up courtesy of Jamie Proctor’s 20th-minute strike from the edge of the box.

However, Danny Johnson levelled just past the hour mark and then James Brophy made the visitors pay for failing to clear a long ball eight minutes later.

County, who picked up five bookings during the 90 minutes, were denied an equaliser when substitute Tristan Abrahams converted from close range only to be penalised for a foul.

Here are the talking points from a rare off day for Flynn’s men…


Abrahams came off the bench to replace Padraig Amond five minutes after Johnson had equalised for Orient.

The Exiles striker then watched on as Brophy put the Londoners ahead, before being involved in the game’s major talking point.

Chasing a ball over the top of the Orient defence, Abrahams seemed to use nothing more than his strength to fend off Daniel Happe and coolly place the ball beyond keeper Lawrence Vigouroux.

County’s players and management thought it was 2-2, but to Abrahams’ consternation referee Tom Nield awarded the hosts a free-kick after his assistant had flagged for a foul.

Scott Twine was booked for taking his remonstrations too far, while boss Flynn couldn’t hide his frustration in his post-match interview, describing it as a “very, very, very poor decision”.

Orient were the team in the ascendancy at the time, however, if the goal had been given then it could well have given County the impetus to go on and collect all three points.


As well as the officiating, Flynn was far from happy with the defending that led to both Orient goals.

There was an element of good fortune about the first from Johnson, with Craig Clay’s shot going wide until it hit Matty Dolan’s foot.

The ball then popped up for Jobi McAnuff to nod through to Johnson and he did the rest, giving Nick Townsend no chance.

The second O’s goal, which proved to be the winner, didn’t make for good viewing from a County perspective.

It stemmed from a simple long ball which was dealt with by Dolan or Brandon Cooper and Brophy did the rest, punishing some poor defending with a neat finish.


Referee Nield won’t be getting a Christmas card from Flynn, although he did hand out five cards of his own to County players on Saturday afternoon.

Twine, Abrahams, Liam Shephard, Scot Bennett and debutant Aaron Lewis all had their names taken.

Tempers flared once or twice but it wasn’t a dirty match, certainly not one that warranted seven bookings in all.

The cautions for Twine and Abrahams were both for things they said to the referee, the former following the disallowed goal and the latter after the substitute felt he had been clipped in the box.

Sensing the possibility of suspensions, Flynn substituted Shephard, Twine and Lewis in one fell swoop, having earlier brought off Bennett.


While the result wasn’t what they wanted, there were a few positives for the Exiles, most notably in the performances of goal scorer Proctor and on-loan Lewis.

Proctor took his goal well and impressed with his all-round game before the match got turned on its head.

Lewis, playing on the left of midfield, also impressed, and may well have added to Proctor’s strike with a goal of his own.


Salford City’s draw with Cheltenham Town on the weekend means the Exiles are three points clear at the League Two summit after 17 matches.

County have a chance to bounce back on Tuesday when they head north for another clash with Salford, who they recently beat in the FA Cup.

Long trips to Cleethorpes, east London and now Greater Manchester mean a gruelling week for Flynn and his squad, and he will be hoping they won’t be caught napping in Lancashire.