NEWPORT County AFC will be eager to rediscover their cutting edge in the final third and end a four-game winless run before the year is out after drawing 1-1 with 10-man Crawley Town on Saturday.

The visit of Exeter City to Rodney Parade on Tuesday gives County a chance to finish 2020 on a high and reaffirm their status as League Two leaders going into the second half of the season.

Something was missing from County’s attacking play at the People’s Pension Stadium in West Sussex, and not even the second-half dismissal of Crawley’s Tarryn Allarakhia could spark them into life.

It had started so well for County thanks to Ryan Haynes’ strike five minutes in, but a freak own goal by Mickey Demetriou just after the half-hour mark ended up giving Crawley a share of the spoils.

“We should have won the game,” said Exiles assistant manager Wayne Hatswell. “We just couldn’t quite find that cutting edge and it’s two points dropped.”

Reflecting on Demetriou’s bad luck – the defender headed past Nick Townsend from distance as the keeper rushed out to deal with a long ball – and how it affected the rest of the match, he added: “We knew they would probably try and go back to front quite quickly whenever they had the ball and we weren’t dictating play in their half.

“They just put a 45-yard ball over the top of us, trying to get in behind, and the mix-up wasn’t great.

“We gave them a lift, something to cling on to, and they made a few changes after going down to 10 men to try and keep a point, and they did.

“They stuck together and managed the game quite well.

“It became a little bit harder for us, but we got into good areas and made positive changes to try and get that goal.

“It just didn’t quite fall our way, but we’ve got to be killing off teams like that.

“But it’s a tough place to come, they’ve been doing really well of late and we got another point away from home, albeit we’re disappointed it’s not three.”

He continued: “It’s a tough division and we go again with two big home games against Exeter and Southend.

“We’re still top of the league, we want to be there or thereabouts, and now we’ve got to turn an away point into a performance at home. We’ve got to be ready for Tuesday now.”

Hatswell’s Crawley counterpart Lee Bradbury couldn’t believe the decision to send off Allarakhia.

“The red card was beyond me,” he said. “It should never have been a red card.

“It was a good point, but I really did feel that we could have won the game if that hadn’t happened.

“They’re a good side, they moved the ball well, they all know their jobs in the team and the formation they play is effective.

“I thought we pretty much nullified that and we were just disappointed we didn’t get 90 minutes to have a go at them.

“We were hard done by with the decision.”