Notts County ground out a deserved 0-0 draw against high-flying Peterborough United at London Road on Saturday, in an entertaining fixture between two well-matched sides in Sky Bet League 1.
Manager Shaun Derry, who watched from the stands as he served the second and final game of his touchline ban, made four changes to the side that had seen off Mansfield Town in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last time out, with Roy Carroll returning in goal, new loan signing Louis Laing coming in for the injured Hayden Mullins and Alan Smith and Zeli Ismail returning in place of Mike Edwards and Ronan Murray.
It was the home side who enjoyed the best of a lively start to the game, looking to cause problems for a youthful Notts backline on a slippery London Road pitch, but the experienced duo of Smith and Gary Jones got back well to help out when needed and ensured the visitors held firm.
Marcus Maddison, who Peterborough signed from Gateshead last month, had the first clear chance for the home side, seeing his well-struck left-footed effort from distance glide just wide of the post in the ninth minute.
The game had its first real talking point then on the quarter-hour mark, as Haydn Hollis slid in inside the area to dispossess Maddison and the Peterborough man went to ground but won only a booking from referee Tony Harrington for what he clearly saw as simulation.
As the half went on, Notts came more and more into the game, with Ismail first setting off on a lovely run from just inside the opposition’s half, advancing into the area, taking on three Peterborough defenders before getting a shot away, but his connection wasn’t what he had hoped for and the ball was never troubling Ben Alnwick in the home goal.
There was then an audacious effort by Liam Noble in the 26th minute, unleashing from distance to have Alnwick scrambling to his right before seeing the ball flash just wide of the post, but this was a signal of what was to come in the match as Notts looked to build on their increasing momentum.
Some great passing just before the half-hour mark set Thompson off down the right flank once more and he jinked his way into the area before getting a low cross away that the Peterborough defence had to be alert to.
Then the best chance of the half fell to Notts as another fantastic passing move from right to left saw Reece Brown pull off a lovely dummy and let the ball run through to Noble, who advanced into the area, but then checked his run when he could maybe have got the shot away first time and as he pulled the ball back across goal, Cassidy couldn’t direct his first time shot goalwards and his effort went behind.
Cassidy saw another effort shortly afterwards saved by Alnwick before another moment of controversy when Thompson again did well down the right and broke to the byline before getting a long cross over to the left where Noble played the ball back across goal and Brown got a rasping shot away that looked to be blocked by the hands of Burgess, but nothing was given and Peterborough managed to clear their lines.
Things settled down a little then as the game moved towards half time, but there was still one moment of worry for Notts when a freekick by Jon Taylor on the right picked out the head of Jack Baldwin inside the six-yard box, but Carroll was well positioned and pulled off a fantastic save from point-blank range to deny the Peterborough defender.
HT: Peterborough United 0 Notts County 0
The first half had proved an entertaining battle between two closely matched teams and the second period looked set to continue in that fashion with Noble seeing an early effort just miss the target and then Maddison force Carroll into a lunging save at the other end with a low driven shot a couple of minutes later.
Both sides continued to press, with Taylor getting the better of Thompson for the first time in the match to break down the left and getting a cross away that had Notts scrambling to clear.
There were then two decent chances for Notts, with first Ismail finding himself in possession in front of goal from a retaken throw-in, but he couldn’t find the target with a well-hit shot from outside the area, and then, after a spell of possession deep inside opposition territory, the ball eventually fell to Noble who hit a lovely curling effort that drifted just over the corner of post and bar.
Notts had to be alert in defence shortly after, with Hollis sliding in well to deny Vassell, who had been played into the area, before a foul by Smith allowed the home side to play in Conor Washington down the left, needing a great block by Jones to deny the Peterborough man.
Jermaine Anderson became the second Peterborough player to be booked midway through the second half for a late challenge on Ismail, before both sides made changes in a bid to find the all-important breakthrough.
Peterborough would first bring on Joe Newell for Ricardo Santos and then an injury to Washington would see him replaced by Luke James minutes later and the young striker would have an early chance to make an impression, but fluffed his lines in front of goal, shooting well over the bar from inside the area.
A booking for Noble for a foul on Anderson would be the Notts midfielder’s last real contribution as he was brought off to be replaced by Ronan Murray in the 77th minute, but that was after another moment of interest for the home fans, when Hollis put a challenge in on Vassell inside the area that had the Peterborough man heading to ground, but the referee was unmoved.
Peterborough’s final change saw them bring on Kane Ferdinand for Taylor and although the home side were perhaps the happier of the two teams to see a minimum of four minutes added time indicated by the fourth official, it took an unfortunate slip by Jones in the final seconds to present them with the opportunity to snatch victory but Maddison couldn’t capitalise and missed the target with the last kick of a highly entertaining fixture that ended with a deserved draw.
FT: Peterborough United 0 Notts County 0