Accrington Stanley suffered late heartbreak against Newport, with an injury-time goal giving the visitors a point from a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Store First Stadium.
A Peter Murphy brace looked to have won the game for Stanley but Lee Minshull rescued a draw for the play-off chasing Exiles.
Robbie Willmott’s free-kick gave the visitors the lead but Murphy and Kal Naismith gave Stanley the lead at half-time. Ryan Burge pegged them back to 2-2 but Murphy’s second in the 88th minute had looked to have given the Reds a vital three points until Minshull’s late intervention.
James Beattie made three changes from the defeat at Fleetwood with Marcus Bettinelli returning in goal whilst Lee Naylor and Danny Webber were recalled for Michael Liddle and Michael Richardson, who has returned to Newcastle after his loan spell ended. Craig Roddan, who joined the club on loan from Liverpool, took a place on the bench.
Newport started brightly, with their front three causing Stanley a number of problems, and took the lead with the first shot on target.
The referee awarded a free-kick for a seemingly fair challenge on Ryan Burge by Luke Joyce 25 yards from goal and Robbie Willmott stepped up to blast the set-piece through the wall and beyond Bettinelli to put the visiting side in front.
Buoyed by that early goal, the Exiles looked to double their lead but skipper David Pipe volleyed wide from the edge of the area.
Stanley, in search of an equaliser, thought they should have had a penalty when Peter Murphy appeared to be bundled over in the penalty area but the referee only gave a corner, which came to nothing.
However, the midfielder would get on the scoresheet just two minutes later. Danny Webber picked the ball up 25 yards out and his perfect pass picked out a trademark run from midfield by Murphy, who put the ball into the bottom corner to bring Stanley back on level terms.
Rene Howe, on debut for Newport, found himself in the referee’s book for a late challenge on Bettinelli that may have warranted more with a different man in charge.
After a spell of good possession for Stanley, Nicky Hunt took aim from range but his shot, which was heading off-target, hit Odejayi and went wide.
Piero Mingoia then came close to putting Beattie’s men in front by forcing Lenny Pidgeley into a good, alert save. Odejayi rose to nod a cross back across the face of goal towards the smallest man on the field; the little maestro planted a header towards the top corner but the goalkeeper got a hand on the ball to turn it over the bar.
Pidgeley was arguably at fault for the goal which gave Stanley the lead just a minute before the break. Murphy put a delightful cross which Kal Naismith gambled on, beating the goalkeeper to the ball on the edge of the six-yard box to nod the Reds in front and complete a first-half comeback.
Into the second half and some excellent play from the home side saw them play their way out from the back with the ball eventually reaching Naismith but his shot from an angle was high, wide and not at all handsome.
The visitors then felt that they should have had a penalty as Conor Washington flicked the ball over Bettinelli after racing onto a lofted pass but went down under a challenge from a Stanley defender. Again, though, the referee was unimpressed and gave nothing.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, the visitors would draw level. Burge showed good pace to run on to a ball over the top and fire past Bettinelli to restore parity.
It was almost 3-2 to the Exiles shortly after as Washington raced through, looking to get one-on-one with the goalkeeper but Dean Winnard made good ground to get back and get a crucial block in, deflecting the forward’s shot wide.
Both managers looked to their bench to try and win the game. Beattie sent on Laurence Wilson and Will Hatfield in place of Lee Naylor and Danny Webber, who was terrific all afternoon. Newport introduced Christian Jolley in place of Washington, hoping the 25 year-old could have an impact in the last 10 minutes.
Stanley thought they had won the game as Murphy’s header from Wilson’s corner looped into the far corner with just two minutes left on the clock as the Store First Stadium erupted with delight but there was a stunned silence a minute into injury time as Lee Minshull pounced on a loose ball to poke past Bettinelli and steal a point at the death for Justin Edinburgh’s men.
ASFC: Bettinelli; Hunt, Winnard, Aldred, Naylor (Wilson 80); Naismith, Joyce, Murphy, Mingoia; Odejayi, Webber (Hatfield 80).
Subs not used: McCartan, Roddan, Windass, Atkinson, Bowerman.