Newport manager Michael Flynn fumed at the standard of officiating as his 10-man team missed the chance to go back to the top of League Two following a 0-0 draw with Salford.
Salford co-owner and former Manchester United captain Gary Neville made the long trip to Rodney Parade but with his manager Richie Wellens absent due to illness, the visitors could not find a goal.
Newport’s Josh Sheehan was sent off for a nasty tackle on Ash Hunter in the 58th minute but Flynn’s side actually improved after losing their Wales midfielder and finished the game the stronger.
Sheehan was not in control of his lunge at Hunter but Newport boss Flynn was unconvinced by the decision to show him a red card.
“The fourth official has given it and I don’t think he gave anything all day,” Flynn said.
“If it’s a red card then I think football is in trouble. I don’t think there is any point appealing these days.”
Newport failed to score for the first time this season.
Flynn added: “We weren’t good enough in the first half.
“Having watched it back how we haven’t got a penalty at the end is beyond me.
“The level of officiating was way, way below the standard needed for professional football, but we’ve got a point against one of the top teams in the league.
“To finish the way we did with 10 men was encouraging and the desire to keep a clean sheet was unbelievable.”
Newport’s home ground has been hit hard by both football and rugby being played on the surface and the winter weather. It was in poor condition and it did not help either team play passing football.
Salford adapted to it much better in the first half, with Neville watching on from a hospitality box.
Captain Tom Clarke missed their best opportunity with a header from close range.
The game changed in the second half when Sheehan received the first red card of his career, but Salford could not take advantage and Newport finished the stronger.
Their defender Mickey Demetriou appealed for a penalty in six minutes of added time and Newport were much more dangerous with substitute Tristan Abrahams in attack.
Salford assistant Warren Joyce took charge of the League Two big spenders in Wellens’ absence.
Wellens was ill with a chest infection but had returned a negative Covid-19 test.
“When we had the extra man we didn’t use it well enough,” said Joyce. “It wasn’t a great surface and we had a plan. For 60-odd minutes we executed it well.
“But we didn’t play well when they went down to 10 men. We kept a clean sheet and to succeed in this league you have to fight. Our record for clean sheets this season is very good.”
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