Notts County keep up unbeaten home record despite second half Barnet comeback

Notts County maintained their National League promotion credentials with an excellent 4-2 victory over Barnet.

Three goals inside ten first-half minutes capped off a spell where the Magpies dominated their London opponents.

Strikes from Cal Roberts, Kyle Wootton and Enzio Boldewijn gave the home side breathing room as they raced to a comfortable advantage.

Roberts opened the scoring with a clever side-footed finish. Wootton doubled the hosts’ lead three minutes later, tapping home a blocked effort.

Boldewijn added a third for Notts County on 22 minutes, capping off another fine attacking move from the hosts.

John Hooper nestled home a solitary goal for the visitors just before half-time before adding a second 15 minutes before full-time.

But, despite never reaching top gear in the second half, County held on to record back-to-back victories in the League.

The two sides last met in July, when Notts County won 2-0 at Barnet to reach the Play-Off Final.

Only 77 days later and the Magpies once again proved why they are worthy of making another claim for promotion this season.

First Half

Wootton had the first real chance of note for the home side just three minutes into the tie; the experienced forward allowed a cross to bounce in the area before sending a right-footed strike across the face of goal and against the post.

But the hosts did not have to wait for long, with Cal Roberts netting his first goal of the season on 14 minutes.

A pin-point Dion Kelly-Evans cross found Wootton in the box, and the forward cushioned the ball down to Roberts who side-footed home from the edge of the penalty area.

Just three minutes later the Magpies doubled their advantage. Another moment of clever link-up play between Kelly-Evans and Roberts allowed the latter to drive down the right side.

The Geordie had enough space to drive a low cross to Wootton who, at the second attempt, poked a low shot beyond Scott Loach.

Magpies are well known for their persistent search in silverware and Neal Ardley’s promotion favourites were no different as they netted a third goal inside the opening 25 minutes.

Having been given space once again, Roberts burst away from his market – twisting and turning away from Jerome Binnom-Williams – before drilling a low shot across the edge of the box to Boldewijn.

The 27-year-old Dutchman took a touch to steady himself, before sweeping a right-footed effort from 20 yards past Scott Loach’s out-stretched arms.

Roberts had a chance to double his tally for the afternoon when he sped away from defenders on the edge-of-the-box before shooting, but his final effort was blocked and looped into Loach’s arms.

The hosts were unable to maintain a clean-sheet, however, as Barnet grabbed a goal just before half-time.

A long ball over the top of the County defensive four troubled Connell Rawlinson and Sam Graham, leaving Hooper to stab home from close range.

Second Half

Barnet manager Peter Beadle clearly provided words of encouragement to the visiting Bees as they emerged for the second half full of energy and optimism.

Ephron Mason-Clark came closest for the visitors, directing a fierce strike past the post after County failed to clear their lines.

And it was mostly down to the hosts’ own undoing that they provided chances to their opponents.

Unlike in the first half when they would pass their way out of trouble with ease, Ardley’s side struggled to build as many chances from defence.

The Magpies boss attempted to reignite his side’s creativity just past the hour-mark with the introduction of Jim O’Brien and Wes Thomas – Boldewijn and Ruben Rodrigues came off.

The subsitute almost made an immediate impact, rising highest to meet Damien McCrory’s left-wing cross, but the forward headed narrowly over the crossbar.

Victory was not fully confirmed for County, however, as Barnet added a second goal to set-up a nervy final fifteen minutes.

A rapid counter-attack from the visitors saw Mason-Clark and Hooper bombard forward. The latter peeled away towards the far-post and, having been met by the former’s low cross, bunded home his second of the afternoon.

The Magpies had further chances to settle the tie – with Connell Rawlinson heading into the side-netting after being picked out unmarked – but proved wasteful in front of goal.

The duty eventually fell to captain Michael Doyle to seal the tie, as he netted a fourth and final goal for the hosts in stoppage time with a low driven shot.

Ardley will have been less than impressed from his side’s sub-par second-half showing, but it was not in vain as the Magpies remained unbeaten at home.

Notts County: Slocombe, Graham, Reeves, Doyle (C), Wootton, Roberts (Brindley 90), Boldewijn (O’Brien 66′), Rawlinson, McCrory, Kelly-Evans, Rodrigues (Thomas 66′).

Unused Subs: Brindley, Sam, Lacey.

Feature image credit: Pixabay

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