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League Two: Newport County 1 Leyton Orient 1

PUBLISHED: 17:05 29 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:05 29 December 2019

Ruel Sotiriou scores (pic Simon O'Connor)

Ruel Sotiriou scores (pic Simon O'Connor)

07958 573219 simon.oconnor@virgin.net Simon O’Connor Photography

Leyton Orient picked up a hard-earned point from their last match of the decade on an emotional day in south Wales.

Ross Embleton handed Ruel Sotiriou his first league start, having netted in their 3-1 Boxing Day loss to Colchester, while Myles Judd returned to the side after suspension.

And both sides observed a minutes applause in memory of former boss Justin Edinburgh, who led both clubs to promotion to League Two and would have celebrated his 50th birthday on December 18.

The game was then barely two minutes old when O's took the lead as Josh Wright's free kick was glanced on by Sotiriou and into the net for a dream start.

Lee Angol volleyed over from Dan Happe's cross two minutes later, while the home side had their first sight of goal on 13 minutes, which Craig Clay blocked.

Sam Sargeant comfortably collected a free-kick from Ryan Haynes, then plucked the ball out of the air once more when Jamille Matt rose highest to meet a cross from the left on 21 minutes.

Happe was shown a yellow card moments later for bringing down Tristan Abrahams and Josh Sheehan curled his free-kick just past the right post.

Newport were starting to enjoy more possession around the half-hour mark, as O's worked hard and saw Marvin Ekpiteta booked for a challenge on Matt.

The home side won a series of set-pieces, but the visitors defended well as Clay's header cleared the danger at a corner.

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Edinburgh was inducted into the Newport County hall of fame during the interval, with his family invited onto the pitch for a short ceremony. And applause rang around the ground in the 50th minute to further celebrate the life of the late Edinburgh.

Sargeant needed treatment for a shoulder injury soon after, with Clay heading away at the near post after another dangerous cross from a free-kick and Maguire-Drew booked on the hour mark following a mistimed tackle.

But O's went close to doubling their lead on 67 minutes when a Maguire-Drew free-kick was headed down by Happe and pushed away by Tom King, before Ekpiteta produced a stunning block to deny the hosts when a long throw-in caused havoc in the box.

Maguire-Drew made way for James Brophy in the first Orient change of the day, with Clay then picking up their fourth yellow card for a foul on the edge of the box.

The free-kick was in a dangerous position, but former O's striker Abrahams curled the ball over the bar with 11 minutes remaining and then saw another effort blocked by Happe soon after.

County drew level on 81 minutes, though, when a hopeful ball into the box fell kindly to substitute Padraig Amond, who rifled a left-footed shot past Sargeant.

And the home side kept the pressure on, with Matt's drilled ball into the box diverted behind before Sotiriou and Newport's Dan McNamara were both booked.

Matt Harrold replaced Sotiriou and O's saw the home side play a ball across the box, send a deflected effort from distance over the crossbar and Sargeant save from Matt's near post flick as normal time drew to a close.

Joss Labadie fired a shot on the turn over the crossbar in the third minute of stoppage time, but O's close in the final seconds as Angol won a free-kick in the Newport half, with Brophy finding Clay for a shot that deflected inches wide, before Angol headed over from the resulting corner.

Leyton Orient: Sargeant, Ekpiteta, Clay, Maguire-Drew (Brophy 71), Judd, Happe, Angol, Sotiriou (Harrold 84), Marsh, Turley, Wright.

Unused subs: Janata, Gorman, Coulson, Dayton, Kyprianou.

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