Kevin Nolan made four changes to the team that beat Crewe Alexandra in their last league outing. Matt Tootle, who had been missing for a month through illness, replaced Nicky Hunt, while there was a first Notts start for Mason Bennett up front, Jon Stead dropping to the bench. Rob Milsom, who came off the bench in Notts’ midweek defeat at Swansea City, started alongside Noor Husin in central midfield as Elliott Hewitt missed out through illness. Terry Hawkridge came in for Lewis Alessandra out wide as the Magpies sought a double success over the Bees following their 2-1 win in the reverse fixture at Meadow Lane.
An arctic wind was blowing rain around the Hive and both teams struggled to get to grips with the horrible conditions early on. Husin, targeting his third goal in as many matches, fizzed an effort just wide of the post before Barnet forward Jon Akinde drew a decent save from Adam Collin with a low shot. Richard Duffy then went into the book for a foul on Nicholls before Akinde and Curtis Weston both fired efforts well off-target. There was disappointment for Notts on 21 minutes when, after pulling up chasing a pass, Bennett appeared to pull his hamstring and headed straight down the tunnel for treatment. Jonathan Forte replaced him and lined up alongside Shola Ameobi up top. Determined to seize his chance, Forte nearly had a sight at goal when he latched on to Collin’s long ball forward but Charlie Clough produced a superb last-ditch challenge to deny him a shot. Akinde fired a 25-yard effort over in response and, shortly after Collin did well to save Nicholls’ low effort, Tootle had to make an excellent challenge to deny the striker.
Forte latched on to Ameobi’s pass before rolling the ball inches wide and, shortly after the beginning of the second half, the substitute saw his header saved by the legs of Craig Ross. Collin then made an important save of his own, denying Jordan Nicholson before Bees sub Simeon Akinola fired the rebound into the side-netting. Husin sent a 25-yard shot wide and over as the Magpies sought the game’s elusive first goal. They nearly had it in unorthadox fashion when Milsom’s corner looked to be going all the way in but Richard Brindley was on hand to clear off the line. Husin joined Duffy in the book for a foul and Liam Walker replaced Hawkridge as the game entered its latter stages. Walker nearly made an immediate impact, bending the ball narrowly wide from 20 yards, before Liam Noble came on for Milsom in Nolan’s final substitution. Notts were looking the more likely team to find the breakthrough and Walker took centre stage once again with 15 minutes to play, almost catching Ross of guard with a free-kick. The keeper reacted in time to push the ball away. There was a late chance for the Magpies when Ameobi saw a shot saved before Jorge Grant and Noble were denied by Brindley as they tried to scramble the ball home on the rebound. Three minutes of added time were indicated at the end of the 90, during which Noble was booked for stopping a quick Barnet counter-attack. There was still time for either side to find a winner but when Clough nodded the ball wide it looked like the game was set for stalemate. Nicholls had other ideas, however, latching on to a long ball forward to finish from an angle and send Notts home with nothing to show for their efforts.
Barnet: Ross, Brindley, Santos (Plavotic 83), Clough, Tutonda, Nicholson (Vilhete 83), Weston, Watson, Izquierdo (Akinola 45), Akinde, Nicholls.
Notts County: Collin, Tootle, Duffy, Brisley, Jones, Hawkridge (Walker 67), Husin, Milsom (Noble 74), Grant, Bennett (Forte 22), Ameobi.
Booked: Duffy, Husin, Noble.