Neal Ardley raised a few eyebrows with his team selection for this play off semi final, opting for Jim O'Brien on the left ahead of Enzio Boldewijn, who up until now had played more minutes than any other Notts player this season.
That decision was more than justified as O'Brien put in arguably one of his best performances in a Notts shirt and bagging a fantastic assist for Kristian Dennis' goal in the process.
There were concerns that Notts might struggle with Barnet and their pace but all in all this was one of the most professional performances I have seen from a Notts team for some time. Throughout the whole 90 minutes the boys in black and white managed to maintain their shape and composure and seemed to soak up any Barnet pressure with ease. Paul McCallum didn't get a look in up front for the Bees and his frustration was evident as the game progressed.
Going forward Notts always looked dangerous and were lucky not to score more with both Dennis and Roberts missing opportunities to add to their goals.
Eighteen year old Joel Bagan came in for the injured McCrory and gave a performance that belied his young years.
The only negative would be the number of set pieces given away in and around the Notts penalty area with Barnet having more than their fair share of corners and free kicks. That said they were unable to break down a resolute Notts defence with Ben Turner also justifying his pick ahead of Connell Rawlinson.
Looking at the match stats despite Barnet winning many more corners it was Notts who edged it when and where it mattered.
Goals scored/conceded by time segment. With goals scored in the 15 minute segments just before and just after half time it was pretty much the perfect outcome for Neal Ardley's men and continues a trend that has developed throughout the latter part of the season.
Of the 63 league goals scored so far this season (inc play offs) 39 of them (62%) have been scored in the period between 30 - 75 minutes. Goals scored per game sits at 1.62 and an average of just 0.95 goals conceded per game.
It's worth noting that yesterdays win means Notts have averaged 2.6 goals per game in the last five and have only conceded 2 goals in those 5 games, an average of just 0.4 goals conceded per game.
Moving on to goal participation and Kristian Dennis scoring his 16th goal of the season in all competitions means he now joins Kyle Wootton at the top of the goals and assists charts with a total of 22.
Callum Roberts has now scored 4 goals in 4 games plus 3 assists in total. Jim O'Brien's fantastic assist for Dennis means he has now had a hand in 6 goals, scoring twice.
Looking at goal participation efficiency Kristian Dennis remains the most efficient attacking player at the club being involved in a goal every 89 minutes. Callum Roberts has proved his worth since joining from Blyth Spartans participating in a goal every 98 minutes.
Kyle Wootton holds on to top scorer with 18 goals in all competitions scoring every 2.04 games. Kristian Dennis is pushing him hard now on 16 with a goal every 1.36 games.
With his 90 minutes yesterday Mitch Rose overtook Enzio Boldewijn as the most played player in all competitions this season.
Minutes played updated below:
Finally, Neal Ardley's record updated.
Yesterday's victory now means Neal Ardley's win percentage since joining Notts has increased to just over 41%. More encouraging than that is that his win percentage for this season in the league is now over 46%. If you throw cup games into the mix then his win percentage for the season so far is just over 52%. The last manager to have a better win% at Notts was Steve Cotterill.
So on to Wembley Stadium and a play off final against Harrogate. Based on the league final standings it is probably justified that the two teams that finished 2nd and 3rd should be able to fight it out for a place in the football league. I'll have a preview for you midweek.
As always thanks for reading, COYP!
Cover photo courtesy of Dan Westwell.