ONE ‘ELL OF AN EFFORT BY LEADERS
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.”
STEERED: Elliott Hewitt notches Notts County’s equaliser
FIST PUMP: Danny Newton celebrates his first-half goal