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21:51 1st March 2011

Nine-Man Notts Earn A Point

Magpie Player

Nine-man Notts County fought to the death to earn a point against Brentford this evening.

The Magpies were always going to be up against it when Jon Harley was dismissed halfway into the opening 45 minutes. But, they still managed to go in at the break ahead, following Craig Westcarr's 12th goal of the season.

A tense second period awaited and Notts battled valiantly, but Karleigh Osbourne's 74th minute header made it 1-1. In an emotional close to the match, Mike Edwards was sent off, leaving Notts with nine men.

The Bees were then handed an injury time penalty. However, Robbie Simpson fired against the post and Notts walked away with a share of the spoils.

Notts aimed to record a third win on the bounce against the Bees at Griffin Park, following on from the 1-0 win over Charlton on Friday night. But, Nicky Forster's team were unbeaten in five and presented a stern challenge.

Paul Ince opted to make two changes to his starting 11, with Harley returning to full-back at the expense of John Thompson and Conor Clifford replacing Karl Hawley. There was no place on the bench for Lee Hughes, as he didn't travel due to a thigh injury.

The hosts had the better of the early exchanges, in terms of attempts at goal. Robbie Neilson volleyed over from a rehearsed, driven corner and Sam Saunders had a promising strike bravely blocked by Edwards.

For Notts, Clifford looked to produce one of his trademark long distance finishes but he dragged wide of the bottom corner. Westcarr also threatened with a deflected hit, which looped wide of the target.

On 16 minutes, Alan Gow came agonisingly close, after a foul on Ricky Ravenhill just outside the box. The forward bent the ball towards goal, beating the home stopper, Richard Lee, but the bar denied him.

Following two yellow cards, one for an accidental handball and another for a foul on Marcus Bean, Harley was given his marching orders. This led to Thompson's 26th minute introduction in place of Gow, as Notts faced a lengthy battle with 10 men.

Notts stood up well to the Bees' offensive moves, breaking up any passing moves in the final third. Their closest attempt came from Gary Alexander, whose glancing header drifted well wide.

Clifford almost gave Notts the lead five minutes before the interval. His whipped delivery from deep evaded everyone, including Lee, and bounced inches wide of the far post.

But, against all odds, Westcarr did manage to put his side in front three minutes later, when he dispossessed a dithering Neilson. Lee charged down the forward's initial effort but he was unable to stop him from slotting home on the rebound.

Notts frustrated Brentford in the early stages of the second half, causing the home crowd to grow increasingly restless. Constant harrying and commitment, highlighted by Ravenhill's superb block on Saunders' powerful volley, kept them at bay.

Saunders certainly appeared to be the danger man and if anyone was to create anything for the Bees, it looked likely to be him. Limited by Thompson's tight marking, the best he could muster was a hit from the wing that cleared the bar.

Another switch around was forced, when Carl Regan got caught up in Bishop's tough tackle on Myles Weston, and he was later removed because of an injury. As a result, Graeme Lee came on at centre-back and Krystian Pearce shifted to the left side of defence.

Moments later, Brentford drew level from a dangerous Saunders free kick. The towering figure of Osbourne met the delivery perfectly and thumped the ball past Nelson with his head.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, Ince took off the goal-scorer Westcarr, who had chased every ball as the lone striker. In his place, Lewis Gobern was introduced with the aim of adding energy to the Notts attack in the dying stages.

As the game edged towards the 90 mark, Neilson gave County a scare. Saunders found him with a teasing centre but the defender could only find the side-netting.

Five minutes of added time became an even greater challenge, as Mike Edwards was cautioned for the second time and was subsequently shown a red card. And, as Pearce brought down substitute Simpson, it seemed all the battling was going to end with Notts leaving Griffin Park empty handed.

Simpson stood up to take the spot-kick himself but instead of finding the bottom corner, he hit the woodwork. With nine men left on the pitch, Notts were definitely the happier team at full time but they could now face a defensive crisis heading into the Leyton Orient fixture.

Attendance: 3,795 (298 Notts County supporters)

Magpie Player Man of the Match: Neal Bishop

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.