Barnet boss Dean Brennan insisted an FA Cup replay against League Two Newport was the least his side deserved after Danny Collinge’s 89th-minute header earned the National League outfit a 1-1 draw at Rodney Parade.
The Bees are just 12 places below the Exiles in the football pyramid, but four successive defeats had derailed their promotion bid in recent weeks.
They looked full of confidence, however, as they took the game to their hosts on a bitterly cold south Wales afternoon.
Newport thought they had done enough to earn a place in the third round for the first time since 2021 as Shane McLoughlin put them 1-0 up in the 44th minute.
Bryn Morris hit a post with a free-kick before that goal and Omar Bogle was denied a second late on, but Barnet dominated possession all afternoon.
Nicke Kabamba saw one effort cleared off the line by Ryan Delaney and was also denied by goalkeeper Nick Townsend before Collinge headed in from close range to snatch a late draw.
“We deserved at least a draw, our performance was very strong,” said Brennan. “To come here and only give them one corner, that shows our dominance in possession – without having that killer punch. But we got it in the end with a deserved equaliser.
“Danny Collinge was immense, I thought he was the best player on the pitch – a real leader and he deserved that goal.
“The biggest thing for us was to stop the rot and show that character. We didn’t come here for a draw, we played expansive football and showed tons of bravery and we got our rewards.
“I’m delighted for the travelling fans. We’ve had a tough few weeks, but we kept going, kept believing in our philosophy and played some really good football.”
County manager Graham Coughlan was frustrated to see the win snatched away at the death, but he admitted Barnet were the better side.
“We are still in the cup,” said Coughlan. “We had chances to put the game to bed but we didn’t, they were better than us and we got out of jail.
“They put us under pressure and started the game right – their mentality was right and ours wasn’t.
“We had a long week, while they had the week off; they were fresh and we weren’t, but they also looked after the ball better than us.
“We kept turning the ball over and giving it away. We were very flat and tired and paid the ultimate penalty at the end of the game.
“It was a real stern test and we won’t be that bad when it comes to the next game at their place. We weren’t good.”