A moment of brilliance at the death rescued a point for Notts County in a battling performance at the EBB Stadium.
Aldershot Town had taken the lead moments before half time, a finely placed finish by Ollie Bozanic. After another frustrating 45 minutes, a loss seemed to be on the cards for the travelling Magpies - until Ben Davies stepped up to find the top-corner with another spectacular free-kick.
A match of high importance presented itself at 3pm, as the Shots rested just one place and three points below Notts in the standings. It looked to be a huge test, though, with several key players - Karl Hawley, Lee Hughes and John Thompson - missing, meaning that three youngsters took up places on the bench.
Reflective of the teams' league positions, it proved to be an evenly matched opening. Davies curled inches over from a set-piece out wide, whereas Marvin Morgan and Kirk Hudson both had efforts comfortably held by Kasper Schmeichel.
Luke Rodgers found himself with the Magpies' first real chance of the afternoon, when he outmuscled the towering figure of Anthony Charles. Making use of the space created, the lively striker struck firmly but was denied by the stooping Stephen Henderson.
The Shots' stopper was unable to hold and spilled into his goalmouth, as his defenders and Rodgers raced towards the loose ball. It was the former that reached it first, desperately hacking away to safety.
County also had a bit of a scare when, inside the box, Anthony Straker nipped in to take control of a defensive hesitation. Graeme Lee, upon his return to the heart of defence, was alert, however, and, throwing his body in front of the shot, deflected over the bar with an outstretched leg.
It appeared, with half time looming, that a single goal could be decisive in a clash with limited action in the final third. Both units seemed to have taken a no-nonsense approach, thus cancelling each other out.
On 40 minutes Aldershot thought they had broken the deadlock, as Morgan directed into the bottom corner. The linesman's flag cut the ensuing celebrations short, for the target-man had been standing in an offside position when Chris Blackburn managed the slightest headed flick-on.
The same corner was found moments later by Bozanic, sending the home side into the break a goal to the good. Hudson had drifted onto the left flank and delivered a delicate centre for the creative midfielder to drill past Schmeichel from the edge of the area.
Notts made their intentions clear after the break, attempting to prevent the Shots from leaving their own territory by utilising a much higher defensive line. Rodgers could have grabbed an early equaliser, too, but was unable to control effectively with his perfectly timed run.
Early pressure was short lived and Aldershot progressively increased their stranglehold on the game. Within this, they could have, and perhaps should have, doubled their advantage.
Hudson was producing a fine display on the right wing, carving out a number of goalscoring chances. One of his low crosses managed to find Straker, who had roamed unmarked at the back post, but the winger fired high, into the side-netting.
A minute later Morgan had an even better opening. Latching onto another Hudson through pass, he lifted past the outrushing Schmeichel, narrowly wide of the target.
The Magpies could easily have levelled at the other end, as the game opened up. Matt Hamshaw was presented with space to strike from 20 yards, forcing Henderson to fist away, low to his right.
Collecting the rebound, Neal Bishop skipped past a defender to centre towards Westcarr. The stand-in forward stood six yards from goal but miscued agonisingly behind for a goal-kick, squandering Notts' best chance of the game up to this point.
Sean Canham was introduced by Dave Kevan to give his side a different dimension, as they continued to hunt for that elusive goal. Though, it was Rodgers that came closest next; squeezing between two defenders and skipping past another as he drifted inside from the right flank, he swung over with his weaker left foot.
As the clock ticked away, more and more players were pushed forward in a last throw of the dice. Rodgers almost connected with a Canham knockdown but still County were left frustrated as fourth official displayed four minutes of added time.
It was during this that Davies stepped up to whip another wondrous free-kick into the top-left corner from 25 yards. Straker will regret stepping forward too early, forcing a retake, because the initial strike was blocked by the wall.
This was goal number nine for the midfielder and a valuable point against their promotion rivals. Now Notts must travel to Darlington on Tuesday night, in search of a win that would help them to close the gap on the top-three.
Attendance: 4,016 (409 Notts County supporters)
Man of the Match: Ben Davies
Notts County: Kasper Schmeichel, Mike Edwards, Graeme Lee, Stephen Hunt, Jamie Clapham, Matt Hamshaw (Canham 80), Ricky Ravenhill, Neal Bishop, Ben Davies, Craig Westcarr, Luke Rodgers.
Substitutes: Russell Hoult, Alex Troke, Haydn Hollis, Nathan Fox, Ben Fairclough, Sean Canham.
Scorer(s): Davies 90
Yellow Card(s): Ravenhill 20, Lee 60
Aldershot Town: Stephen Henderson, Ben Herd, Anthony Straker, Chris Blackburn, Anthony Charles, Marvin Morgan, Scott Donnelly, Kirk Hudson, Ben Harding, Ollie Bozanic, Andy Sandell.
Substitutes: Mikhael, Jamiez-Ruiz, Louie Soares, Lewis Chalmers, John Grant, Dean Howell, Danny Hylton.
Scorer(s): Bozanic 45
Yellow Card(s): Charles 83, Straker 90
Report by Dane Vincent