THE Paddy Power Save Our Shirt Cup is heading back to Ireland after the ‘Unsponsored Derby’ between Macclesfield Town and Newport County AFC ended in a 1-1 draw.

It wasn’t the result that County wanted as they celebrated the news that manager Michael Flynn is staying on as manager.

But, despite taking the lead inside the opening minute through Padraig Amond, they were fortunate to come away from Moss Rose with a point after a game in which they were second best for long periods.

The club announced hours before kick-off that Flynn had ended talks with League One Lincoln City and committed his future to County.

And that major boost was reflected in a lightning quick start from the visitors.

Captain Joss Labadie attacked from the off and saw a shot deflected behind for a corner.

Robbie Willmott’s delivery from the left was only half cleared and Amond was in the right place to poke home the opening goal with around 55 seconds on the clock.

County briefly threatened to take charge of the contest with Amond to the fore.

The striker blasted over after being picked out on the edge of the area from a trademark corner routine and then shot straight at Macclesfield’s Newport-born goalkeeper Owen Evans from Labadie’s cross.

But the hosts quickly recovered from the early setback and they dominated much of the play for the rest of the night.

Former Wrexham midfielder Jay Harris tried his luck from distance early on but his shot was well over Tom King’s bar.

Virgil Gomis then went down in the box under a challenge from Mark O’Brien after a superb ball from Arthur Gnahoua but referee Graham Salisbury rejected the appeals for a penalty.

And King got down well to keep out a low drive from Connor Kirby.

The equaliser was coming and it duly arrived, albeit in controversial circumstances, in the 19th minute.

The Exiles defence and goalkeeper King hesitated, expecting an offside decision, when Harris picked out a run into the box from Emmanuel Osadebe.

But the flag didn’t go up and the former County loanee lifted the ball over King at the second attempt.

Flynn fumed on the touchline but Macclesfield deserved to be back on level terms and they should have been ahead before the break.

Silkmen skipper Fiacre Kelleher should have scored when he volleyed over from eight yards out and King had to be alert to tip another Kirby effort round the post.

A couple of driving runs into the box from Tristan Abrahams at the end of the first half caused the hosts problems but the County management team were far from happy as the sides left the pitch.

And assistant manager Wayne Hatswell failed to return for the second half having reportedly been sent off for ‘foul and abusive’ language towards the officials in the tunnel.

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The visitors began the second period as if they’d had a good talking to during the break, but Macclesfield soon got back into their stride after a short spell under the cosh and they continued to create the better chances.

Gnahoua's shot was headed behind by O'Brien before Kirby blasted over at the far post and King had his palms stung by venomous efforts from Corey O'Keefe and Osadebe, who was unrecognisable from his forgettable three-game spell with County in 2018.

Abrahams almost restored his side’s lead 20 minutes from the end but his curling effort from the edge of the area was just over Evans’ bar.

Scot Bennett, recalled in place of Matty Dolan in the one change from Saturday’s defeat at Northampton Town, made way for Dolan as Flynn looked to force a winner in the closing stages.

It didn’t materialise and it was the home side who looked the most likely to seal all three points late on with Theo Archibald and Kelleher both going close and Kirby firing over from distance.

Next up for Flynn’s men are leaders Exeter City at Rodney Parade on Saturday and they will have to improve if they are to match the Grecians.

County: King; McNamara, Howkins, O’Brien, Haynes; Bennett (Dolan, 71), Sheehan, Labadie; Abrahams (Poleon, 89), Amond, Willmott

Subs not used: Townsend, Ekpiteta, Leadbitter, Maloney, Whitely

Booked: McNamara, Haynes, Sheehan, Labadie

Referee: Graham Salisbury

Attendance: 1,435 (91 County)

Argus star man: O’Brien