Nolan made two changes to the side that drew with Forest Green Rovers last weekend. In came Lewis Alessandra and Ameobi, Terry Hawkridge and Jonathan Forte having to settle for a place on the bench.
Notts came close to taking the lead with seven minutes on the clock. Carl Dickinson’s cross caused chaos in the middle, the ball eventually falling for Richard Duffy two yards out. A Barnet man was alive to the danger, however, making a crucial block. But the Magpies didn’t have to wait much longer before taking the lead. Rob Milsom’s inswinging corner was headed back across goal by Ameobi into the net. The sides exchanged tentative forays forward as they pursued the next goal but, aside from Adam Collin receiving treatment after colliding with a Barnet player in the air, the rest of the half passed without major incident.
There were no changes for either side at the break, with Collin deemed fit to continue. And the keeper was called into immediate action after the restart, backpedalling to push a deflected Barnet effort over the bar. Ameobi had an opportunity to double Notts’ lead moments later but failed to generate enough power on his header following Alessandra’s cross. But Yates made no mistake with a header of his own on 51 minutes. He was beautifully picked out by Matt Tootle and nodded the ball beyond Craig Ross from six yards to double the Magpies’ lead. Nolan was forced into his first change shortly before the hour when Collin succumbed to the injury he sustained in the first half. Ross Fitzsimons replaced him for his league debut. But focus was back on the other end when play resumed, Notts creating a brilliant chance to extend their lead. Milsom played the ball into Stead, who in turn laid it off for the onrushing Alessandra. The winger took it in his stride brilliantly, wriggling past a defender before being denied by a point-blank save. The rebound fell kindly for Jorge Grant but he could only turn the ball over from six yards. Notts had the ball in the net minutes later when Stead lashed the ball home at the back post, only for the referee’s assistant to flag for offside. Former Magpie Jamal Campbell-Ryce gave Fitzsimons his first test shortly after the hour, the keeper pushing his curling effort away with a strong hand. Minutes later, Dickinson found himself in the book for a mistimed tackle on Campbell Ryce, before Yates controlled the ball well on his chest and fired the ball wide with a left-footed snapshot from the edge of the area. Notts then had Fitzsimons to thank for denying Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro with an excellent reflex save, the keeper diving to his left to pluck the forward’s sweetly-struck effort out of the bottom corner. Ameobi was replaced by Forte and Tootle struck the ball just over from range as time ticked away from the visitors. But the Bees gave themselves a lifeline when substitute Akinola capitalised on a loose ball in the area to fire the ball low into the far corner. Fitzsimons appeared to get a fingertip to it but was beaten by the power of the strike. Elliott Hewitt replaced Alessandra in Nolan’s final change as a nervy finale beckoned. Seven minutes were added on at the end of the match, in the first of which Forte was desperately unlucky not to kill the game off with a sublime effort. The substitute controlled the ball on his chest and turned his body in the same movement before volleying across goal and just wide from the edge of the area. Barnet were desperate for one last chance – and they got one in the dying embers when a loose ball fell to Ricardo Almeida Santos eight yards out. The defender blazed over on the half-volley and Notts breathed a sigh of relief.
Notts County: Collin (Fitzsimons 58), Dickinson, Brisley, Duffy, Tootle, Alessandra, Milsom, Yates (Hewitt 82), Grant, Stead, Ameobi (Forte 75).
Barnet: Ross, Taylor, Clough, Santos, Tutonda, Taylor (Shomotun 83), Fonguck, Izquierdo (Nelson 62), Campbell-Ryce, Blackman (Akinola 63), Akpa Akpro.
Booked: Santos, Nelson.