By Michael Callander
Notts County and Torquay United shared the points at Meadow Lane on Saturday, in a game that rather sparked into life in the second half.
Michael Callander looks at who did what in a game Notts might feel they should have won, against the runaway leaders and top scorers in the Vanarama National League.
Torquay’s away record was identical to their home record as they arrived at Meadow Lane, so Neal Ardley’s side will be pleased to have kept a clean sheet, but probably had the better chances to win the game as it opened up late on.
Sam Slocombe – Made a crucial, reactive save from close range to prevent a Rawlinson own-goal in the first half.
Had to palm away a mix-up at the end of the first half. He was a little lucky it didn’t fall to a Torquay player, and was in no-man’s land as the ball came in.
Claimed some potentially dangerous balls and corner deliveries but didn’t have too many shots to save. Claimed an especially dangerous free-kick in the last 10 minutes.
Richard Brindley – Made some promising runs down the right but also put a couple of crosses straight into McDonald’s arms.
Had an altercation with Torquay substitute Josh Umerah in the box as a corner was cleared. Put an important challenge in to deny an Aaron Nemane cross late on, which he put behind for a corner. Saw a deflected cross saved in the last 15 minutes and conceded a risky free-kick with 10 to go.
Took a boot to the face as Umerah tried to hook a high ball into the net in the dying minutes. Replaced by Calvin Miller in the 87th minute.
Connell Rawlinson – Might have been slightly lucky to avoid giving away a penalty on Kyle Cameron early in the second half. There didn’t seem to be much of a pull as the free-kick came into the area but you’ve seen them given. Played a nice ball into Rodrigues late on which split the Torquay midfield.
Alex Lacey – Didn’t have too much to deal with in the first half as most of Torquay’s advances went down Rawlinson and Brindley’s side. Looked fairly comfortable in dealing with what was asked of him in the second half. Slid a dangerous Torquay cross into the Kop for a corner.
Dion Kelly-Evans – Energetic as ever, didn’t deliver too much in the way of crosses but also wasn’t exposed too often. Doesn’t give up on any ball and battled for everything. Won two important headers in the Torquay box to keep possession for Notts.
Michael Doyle – Delivered a wicked cross from the left in the first half, needed a McDonald save to take it away from Boldewijn. Misplaced a few passes throughout.
Jake Reeves – Looked confident in possession, had an opportunity to shoot from outside the box after 20 minutes but saw his effort blocked, after combining with Rodrigues.
Did play a risky ball at the start of the second half but recovered to block the shot it led to. Brings real quality in possession, enjoyable to watch with some nice touches. His EFL pedigree was clear to see.
Had an effort on the angle when Rodrigues’ blocked shot came to him but that was also blocked.
Enzio Boldewijn – Probably should have had a yellow early on. Operating on the right so couldn’t cut in on his stronger foot. Showed it with a wayward shot on his left early in the first half. Fired one over on his left in the second too, after cutting in from the right in the clearest chance of the game at that time. Replaced by Jim O’Brien in the final 15 minutes.
Ruben Rodrigues – Did well to win free-kicks, shields the ball well to draw fouls. Like Reeves, looks comfortable on the ball, uses it well and gives Notts real quality.
Caught a hard strike to the face in the second half but was able to recover in time for the resulting corner to be taken.
Came into things more and more as the game went on. Had the best chance of the game at the time when his shot into a crowd of players was blocked.
Kyle Wootton – Had a decent opportunity to steal onto a lax backpass in the first half but McDonald was able to deny him.
Booked for a mistimed challenge late in the first half. Might have chased down another backpass more aggressively without that previous misdemeanour hanging over him.
Had the best chance of the game in the last couple of minutes as an O’Brien cross came to him from the left, but he turned it just wide of the right post.
Inih Effiong – Held it up well on a couple of occasions in the first half but didn’t have any chances of his own before the break.
Brings more physicality up front as another outlet alongside Wootton who doesn’t have to do it all by himself anymore. Allows Notts to employ a 4-4-2 and change things up a bit. It’s certainly not a little-and-large combination up top but he gives Neal Ardley more options.
Showed some neat touches and adds something different. Replaced by Elisha Sam on the hour mark.
Jim O’Brien – Replaced Enzio Boldewijn in the final 15 minutes. Didn’t have an awful lot to do until he fed Wootton for the best chance of the game from the left. Dangerous ball but Wootton couldn’t apply the finish.
Elisha Sam – Replaced Inih Effiong on the hour. Wasn’t able to carve out many chances for himself until the last 20 minutes when the game opened up.
His opportunity came when Wootton recycled an effort with a backheel, but the Belgian fired straight at McDonald.
Delivered a really dangerous cross for Wootton in injury time but Wootton couldn’t get there after being blocked by Cameron.
Calvin Miller – Replaced Richard Brindley in the 87th minute for his first league appearance for Notts. Wasn’t troubled too much on the left in his short spell on the pitch. Took the throw which led to O’Brien’s late cross and the best chance of the game.