Report | Barnet (a)
Vanarama National League | 18 March 2023
For the first time in 4 games Notts took the lead in a game, but only for the 5th time this season Notts dropped points from a winning position. A frustrating afternoon at the Hive was really a tale of 2 halves, as Notts started strong but began to fade. The gap at the top increased to 3 points, with Wrexham having a game in hand, giving them a massive advantage at this stage of the season.
The game started with intensity, and with the visitors very much on top. Chicksen, back in his wing back role, had the first meaningful action of the game, his first time cross finding a dangerous area. However, Barnet were able to turn the ball behind for a corner. The pressure from the Magpies wouldn’t relent though, as Ruben Rodrigues struck one at goal. It looked to be heading in Langstaff’s direction, but a heroic clearance from Harry Pritchard kept the scores level.
Notts were the side in the ascendancy. They had a gilt edged chance after 20 minutes, with the returning skipper Kyle Cameron getting forward. His cross found Langstaff, and on the volley he looked to have his 37th goal of the season. An acrobatic save from Laurie Walker kept the scores level, one of the finest stops you will see all season.
Down the other end Brooks was called into action for the first time, as surprise Barnet inclusion Powell struck a fierce effort at the near post. Brooks, who has been called up to the Ireland u21 side, was equal to it though, palming away the strike.
The pressure continued, with Walker once again making a great save after 25 minutes. Nemane had seen his cross-come-shot enter a dangerous area, but the stopper, who was in fine form, turned it against the post. The keeper was kept increasingly busy, and he went down for a brief moment following the save. However, much to Barnet’s relief he got back to his feet as play continued.
It didn’t take Walker long to be making saves again. Sam Austin played through Chicksen, who put in a dangerous ball. It saw a cruel deflection, which seemed to be heading for the bottom corner, but Walker once again made a fabulous save. A few minutes later he had a much more routine stop to make, as a Bostock free kick was met by the head of Langstaff, but he could only direct it straight at Walker. Still, Notts were peppering the Barnet goal as a sign of their complete dominance.
Notts faced their biggest scare of the game to date, as a foul on Rodrigues on the edge of the area allowed Barnet to gain possession and break. Notts’ defensive line reacted superbly though, stepping up to catch Kabamba offside, with the forward otherwise streaking through on goal.
The game then exploded to life on the stroke of half time, with Notts finally getting the breakthrough they deserved. A wonderful team move saw Notts move the ball from back to front, manipulating the Barnet defence out of position. The ball was worked to Macaulay Langstaff, who this time made no mistake, lashing home his 37th goal of the season. Notts regained top spot, with Langstaff eyeing 2 goalscoring records too.
With the first half almost drawn to a close Barnet won a throw high up the pitch. Right back Cropper went to take, and his incredibly long and flat throw wreaked absolute havoc in the Notts box. It went straight onto Idris Kanu’s head, and his effort flew like a bullet, hitting the bar and going in to level the scoring. A disastrous end to the half which sent the sides in level.
The late leveller seemed to give Barnet the momentum, as they started the 2nd period very much on top. Notts seemed very disjointed at the beginning of the half, with the best chances falling Barnet’s way. Around 10 minutes after the break Barnet had another long throw opportunity, even further up the pitch, but this time Bajrami rose highest to head clear.
Just before the hour mark Kabamba pressed the Notts backline, and stole possession, racing through on goal. Brooks made himself big, making a huge save to keep Notts level, denying Kabamba in the process. Luke Williams opted to make his first changes straight after that, with Jodi Jones and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans entering the action.
That change did little to change the course of the half, as Barnet simply didn’t tire. Chances fell to sides at each end, as the game began to open up. Notts went toe to toe with a side who love to play that way, and it resulted in first Walker denying Langstaff once again, before dangerman Kabamba, who grew into the game as it went on, going incredibly close at the other end.
With time ticking away news of Wrexham leading trickled through, with the gap ever increasing at the top. Kabamba then had a glorious opportunity to really hammer in the final nail, as his header at the back post really should have been on target. He kept evading the attention of the Notts defenders, and it was at the other end where the Notts defence almost proved decisive. Bajrami once again rose highest to meet the ball, with his flick on seemingly taking a touch on it’s way behind, only for a goal kick to be given.
The game seemed to be slipping away from Notts, and it almost went from bad to worse as Harry Pritchard had a fantastic chance to put the Bees ahead. Tiernan Brooks deserves massive credit for keeping the scores at 1 a piece, as he stood tall and firm to deny to goalscoring midfielder.
It looked as though Brooks’ save would be even more significant, as with a minute of the 90 left Notts should have taken the lead. Good work from the Magpies saw Chicksen receive the ball high up, and his cross was fizzed into the 6 yard box. Lemonheigh-Evans was lurking, but his effort went over the bar, with the loanee ultimately leaning too far back to get his effort on target. Another significant away miss from Lemonheigh-Evans, as the 4th official signalled 5 minutes of added time were to be played.
Despite Notts desperately needing a winner late to keep the title race alive, the game ultimately slipped away from them. The 5 minutes seemed to fly by, as neither side failed to create a meaningful chance. That meant the spoils were shared on a frustrating afternoon for Notts. The Magpies will have felt they should have been out of side by half time, but credit must be given to Barnet for adjusting and making it tough in the second. A word must also be given to the ridiculous standards set by the title contenders. Any other season an away draw to 5th would be seen as a good result, so the fact it feels like a defeat is testament to the craziness of this season.
Despite finally getting back to scoring first Notts weren't able to capitalise on that goal and a very good first half. More surprisingly this was followed by an uncharacteristically poor second half.
That said the value of chances created saw Notts record xPTS of 2.18 and an expected win percentage of 63.39% so definitely a case of two points lost.
Season stats updated below.
Player Stats - National League:
Community Day at Notts on Saturday with Scunthorpe the visitors. A big crowd and a decent following from The Iron should add to the occasion.
As always thanks for reading.
For Notts County Stats:
Richard - @notts_stats
Tom - @tomhwilliams23
Colin - @Colin_Sisson