Notts County gained a valuable point against Play-Off rivals Brentford this afternoon at Griffin Park.
The 0-0 scoreline was the eighth time on the bounce that the teams had drawn and moved Notts one point clear of seventh placed Carlisle United. At the same time, it maintained a three point advantage over the Bees heading into the final three games.
Both sides entered the match in form and it showed in an even opening 45 minutes. County had the better of the chances, with Lloyd Sam and Alan Judge coming close.
Alan Sheehan nearly opened the scoring for Notts after the interval from range, as did Judge. Sam Saunders came closer than anyone to stealing the points, when his 87th free-kick was somehow kept out by Damion Stewart.
Only one change was made from the side that overcame Yeovil Town on Bank Holiday Monday, with Lee Hughes dropping out of the squad because of a virus. Dele Adebola, who had impressed off the bench, came into the starting 11 to partner Daniel Bodgdanovic in attack, while the defence and midfield remained unchanged.
Brentford started the match at a frantic pace but Notts had the better of the efforts during opening minutes. Sam fired wide, after Adebola had made his presence known in the final third, and Alan Judge curled wide of the bottom-right corner from 20 yards.
Sandwiched between these attempts, a foul on the edge of the box by Jeff Hughes gave Saunders a great chance for the hosts. The attacking midfielder struck powerfully at goal with the free-kick but Adebola made a brave header in the wall to divert the ball wide.
Judge combined with Bogdanovic from a corner to force the first save of the afternoon from Bees' goalkeeper Richard Lee, inside his near post. In response, Donaldson rounded off an extended passing move with a sweeping finish that cleared the bar.
It was exciting, end-to-end football at Griffin Park and, on 37, Hughes rattled the woodwork with a stunning 25-yard hit, following more fine work on the right by Sam. Brentford quickly countered with the Magpies pushed forward and Liam Chilvers was lucky to escape with a caution, when he hacked down Donaldson in a fine goal-scoring position.
Ahead of the break, Adebola won another aerial challenge to play in Bogdanovic, who dragged his shot wide of the mark. During added time, Harlee Dean then had to deny Adebola at close range with a well-anticipated block.
County came out of the traps early in the second period and Judge nearly found the bottom-left corner from distance. Sheehan then gathered a cross-field pass from Hughes to fire inside the near post but Lee reacted sharply to tip wide.
Keith Curle was forced into two changes early into the half, with Kelly and Sam pulling up. Kieron Freeman and Jon Harley were introduced in like-for-like swaps.
Stuart Nelson was called into action on 54 minutes by a bouncing delivery into the box. Under pressure from the imposing Marcus Bean, the stopper's punch lacked conviction but he made amends with a superb save at the feet of Clinton Morrison, who had looked certain to prod home inside the six-yard box.
Brentford dominated for large spells but plenty of strong headed clearances kept them at bay. It was an increasingly tense atmosphere, with so much riding on the game for both outfits.
It seemed that one goal would be enough to take the points and it almost the Magpies that got it. 10 minutes from time, low centre from Judge narrowly evaded both Adebola and Neal Bishop.
One final substitution was made, adding fresh legs to the Notts strike-force. Adebola was withdrawn and replaced by Ishmel Demontagnac.
On 87, Saunders thought that he had won the game for his side, when his free-kick beat the wall and looked destined to find the top-left corner. However, Stewart popped up on the goal-line to prevent the ball from finding the net with a crucial header.
The fourth official displayed five minutes of added time and Notts went about their play sensibly to avoid a late concession, which would have moved Brentford level on points with them. And, with Carlisle losing, it was a valuable point for the Magpies that pleased the travelling fans.
Attendance: 7,079 (747 away supporters)
Man of the Match: Liam Chilvers