ONE ‘ELL OF AN EF­FORT BY LEAD­ERS

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Matt Wright

EL­LIOTT He­witt’s equaliser helped keep Notts County top of the ta­ble with a de­served draw at Steve­nage, although they came away from the game feel­ing they could have had more.

It would have been hard to tell in the first half which of these teams is chal­leng­ing at the sum­mit of League Two as the Mag­pies cre­ated pre­cious lit­tle be­fore fall­ing be­hind to Danny New­ton’s strike.

Their man­ager Kevin Nolan didn’t re­veal what was said to them at half-time but what­ever it was, it clearly worked as the visi­tors put Steve­nage’s de­fence un­der siege af­ter draw­ing level, with­out fur­ther re­ward.

Nolan said: “In the sec­ond half, we cre­ated a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties – Jorge Grant has had a real good cou­ple of chances that, on an­other day, he puts into the back of the net.

“We had the one at the end with Terry (Hawkridge) on the vol­ley, so some really good chances.

“We could see that there were lads that wanted to win and keep go­ing to try and get that win­ner but they stood tall and de­fended really well.

“Un­for­tu­nately, we just couldn’t get that sec­ond goal.”

County goal­keeper Ross Fitzsi­mons was al­most em­bar­rassed as he was beaten to Tom Pett’s cross by New­ton, whose header bounced off the top of the bar.

The dead­lock was bro­ken when Shaun Bris­ley’s header fell for Ron­nie Henry, whose ball back into the box al­lowed New­ton to fin­ish into the bot­tom cor­ner.

But the lead was al­most wiped out four min­utes later when Grant’s free-kick dipped just over the bar, with Steve­nage stop­per Joe Fryer look­ing beaten.

New­ton then forced Fitzsi­mons into a save less than a minute into the sec­ond half be­fore Grant lifted a teas­ing ball in from He­witt just over the bar.

The Mag­pies were much im­proved af­ter the break and they equalised when Grant seized on an er­rant pass be­fore find­ing He­witt, who pro­duced a mea­sured fin­ish in­side the box.

The visi­tors pressed for a win­ner, with Ryan Yates fir­ing just off-tar­get from dis­tance and Jon Stead head­ing Matt Too­tle’s cross over, but it didn’t ar­rive.

Steve­nage boss Dar­ren Sarll was pleased to see his troops bring their two-match los­ing run in League Two to an end with a re­spectable point against the lead­ers. “It was two com­mit­ted groups of men un­der man­agers who value com­mit­ment and desire as a pri­or­ity from their play­ers,” said the Boro boss. “We want to be bet­ter in pos­ses­sion, of course, but you have to meet fire with fire at times and I thought the boys did that. “We’re just dis­ap­pointed that we didn’t give them too many chances but that the goal we’ve given away was from our own mak­ing.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

STEERED: El­liott He­witt notches Notts County’s equaliser

FIST PUMP: Danny New­ton cel­e­brates his first-half goal

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