Notts County 1-1 Barnet. Tuesday 30th January 2007
If ever a game summed up Notts County’s season, this was it. They failed to take their chances and in the end the visitors snatched a share of the points, denting County’s playoff hopes. The chief culprit was Lawrie Dudfield, who scored just one of his three penalties.
The night had begun well for County, despite the cold weather and the lowly 3,010 attendance. Andy Parkinson raced on to a through ball in the 17th minute and, as he turned neatly in the area, he was clipped by Barnet defender Adam Gross. Referee Rob Lewis pointed to the spot.
Dudfield’s penalty lacked conviction and Robert Burch, making his debut in goal for Barnet, saved the shot with his legs. But the assistant referee indicated that Burch had been off his line and so Dudfield was granted a reprieve. He made no mistake this time, firing into the bottom corner.
Barnet were rattled by the goal and County pushed forward in search of a second, with Parkinson, Dudfield and Jason Lee linking up well. In contrast, Barnet could not bring their attackers into the game, although the pace of Jason Puncheon was always menacing.
Ten minutes before half-time, Parkinson’s speed and movement hurt Barnet again as he nipped away from Gross. The left-back put an arm on Parkinson’s shoulder but contact seemed minimal as the midfielder fell in the box. Referee Lewis, however, was convinced and awarded County a second penalty. Dudfield again stepped up but his strike crashed against the crossbar. In many ways, this was the turning point in the match as a second goal would have demoralised Barnet.
After the break, it was more of the same as County fashioned the better chances. But with twenty minutes remaining, Barnet suddenly took control of the midfield areas and began to threaten the County goal. First Adam Birchall, then Puncheon, forced saves from Kevin Pilkington.
But Barnet would not be denied and in the 74th minute the away side grabbed an equaliser. From a Richard Graham corner on the left, defender Joe Devera headed the ball towards goal where Barnet captain Nicky Bailey bundled it over the line.
Notts County brought on striker Junior Mendes as both sides pushed for a winner, but neither could make the decisive breakthrough. In the end, County will reflect on a crucial two points dropped in their bid for a place in the playoffs.
County manager Steve Thompson refused to be too downhearted after the game but knew his team ought to have won the game. “If Lawrie (Dudfield) sticks the second penalty in, they’ve got to get three, simple as that. The second penalty killed us. But these lads are determined. They’re all 100% committed. We’ve got to keep batting on,” Thompson said.
Notts County: (4-3-3) Pilkington; Silk, Edwards, Hunt, McCann; Somner, Smith, Martin (Mendes); Parkinson, Lee, Dudfield
Barnet: (4-4-2) Burch; Devera, Yakubu, King, Gross; Cogan, Hessenthaler, Bailey, Graham; Puncheon (Allen), Birchall
By Tom Oldfield