Notts County 2-1 Barnet Six Things: Bees leave comeback too late

Brisley heads home County’s first –

Despite a spirited finale, Barnet fell to a 2-1 defeat at promotion-chasing Notts County, who went top thanks to goals from Shola Ameobi and Ryan Yates. Here’s six things from the game.

Barnet’s lack of confidence

In the first 70 minutes, the away side produced a performance that showed flashes of promise, but was ultimately lacking in substance and product. Early on they tried to play out from the back, but the lack of movement from midfielders and full-backs gave centre-backs Ricardo Santos and Charlie Clough a dilemma. The safest option, under intense pressure from Jon Stead and Ameobi, would be to clear their lines, but that would go against the managerial instructions Rossi Eames. The young coach is looking to move the side away from the long ball Martin Allen era, but we saw flaws in their possession-based approach.

County’s direct play

The hosts showed that direct isn’t a dirty word. While Barnet failed to penetrate with lots of sideways passes, Notts County often needed just one touch to put their centre-backs under pressure, sometimes coming from goalkeeper Adam Collin’s free-kicks. They went ahead when Robert Milsom’s right-sided corner was knocked goalwards by Ameobi, who was announced as the scorer, even if Brisley might have got the final touch. The Magpies dropped deeper after the goal but they always looked comfortable. Milsom pressed Jack Taylor out of the game, Carl Dickinson physically dominated Ruben Bover while centre-backs Richard Duffy and  Brisley handled John-Louis Akpa-Akpro with ease.

Magpies onslaught

Buoyed by vociferous home support, Notts County created chance after chance for a 20-minute second half spell. Matt Tootle hadn’t enjoyed the most comfortable afternoon defensively, but he assisted for the second goal, the right-back’s crosses headed home at the back-post by Yates. Stead then waltzed through the defence before Jorge Grant skied a sitter on 59 minutes, then Stead had a goal ruled offside after the lively Lewis Alessandra’s run. The hosts were beginning to ally solidity with free-flowing final third play and they threatened to run riot.

Barnet’s late surge

Credit must be given to Eames, whose tactical tweaks improved his side significantly. Michael Nelson added much needed experience at the back and the use of three centre-backs gave Santos and Clough more options in possession, allowing them to play through the front two. The key man was Jamal Campbell-Ryce, who had been the one player that always wanted the ball: the fact his side had half a chance in the closing stages owed much to his energy and drive.

Substitute Simeon Akinola, who forced a good save from substitute goalkeeper Simon on 65 minutes, also played a part along with left-back David Tutonda, who had always been at the heart of Barnet’s brighter attacking moments. The duo combined for the goal, Tutonda crossing for Akinola, who finished from close range. Eames side played with far more intent in the latter stages and had Notts County’s defence on the ropes, but when Santos fired over in the dying moments, they knew they had blown their chances of a comeback.

County must be more ruthless

This was a lesson learnt for Notts County, who appeared to have the game in the bag at one stage. In future matches, they have got to either maintain the off-the-ball intensity they showed in the first 70 minutes, or be more ruthless when the chances come their way. Profligacy in front of goal during an excellent 20-minute second half period nearly cost them and better opposition will make them pay.

Bees need balance

We saw in that last period the technical ability this Barnet side has when given time on the ball, but they looked far less comfortable in the first 70 minutes when they were closed down quickly. Eames must introduce players who can win the physical battles to enable the more delicate performers to show what they can do.