Notts County had to settle for a share of the spoils this evening in an exciting, six-goal thriller at Meadow Lane. Notts held leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the match and the visitors were certainly the happier of the teams at the final whistle.
Notts went into the interval two goals up but Bartosz Bialkowski had a pivotal role to play in that. The number one made top saves to deny both Josh McQuoid and Lee Barnard ahead of his team’s opener.
The Magpies moved in front thanks to Jeff Hughes’ 21st minute finish, following fine work from Francois Zoko and Yoann Arquin in the build-up. Nine minutes later, Arquin capitalised on a defensive error by Simon Francis to double County’s advantage.
After the break, Bournemouth came out fighting and managed to strike twice, on 51 and 60. Josh McQuoid made it 2-1 with a smart finish, ahead of Harry Arter’s penalty levelled the scores.
Notts moved back in front with only six minutes remaining, with Jamal Campbell-Ryce finding the net from the spot. Again, Bournemouth found a way back – an 85th minute equaliser by substitute Matt Tubbs that earned his side a point.
Keith Curle named an unchanged side from the one that secured a 2-1 win against Coventry City three days prior. Buoyed by the result, Notts came out of the traps well and were unfortunate not to be in front inside the opening 10 minutes.
Yoann Arquin started off a flurry of attempts, when he let loose with an unexpected, long-range volley, which away stopper David James fisted clear. Moments later, Campbell-Ryce roamed into space to strike powerfully at goal, though he was unable to keep his effort on target.
A foul on Campbell-Ryce then allowed Notts to threaten from a right-wing set-piece. Jordan Stewart curled towards the back post, where Jeff Hughes rose high to nod wide of the mark.
On 19, McQoid brought out the best in Bialkowski with a stunning 30-yard hit, with the County stopper acrobatically claweing the ball away from the top corner. From the resulting corner kick, Pugh found Francis on the edge of the box with a low delivery, only for the defender’s drive to crash against the foot of the post.
A stray pass in midfield led to Bialkowski being called into action again, this time by Barnard’s stern hit from 20 yards. The save proved to be vital, as Notts gained the lead from the following attack.
Zoko was given time to surge into the final third and his slide pass saw Arquin and James compete for a 50-50 ball. The former England goalkeeper looked to have won the battle but Arquin’s presence was enough to deflect the ball towards Jeff Hughes, who placed home under pressure.
On 32, Arquin added a goal of his own, after he intercepted Francis’ poor back-pass. The Frenchman dragged James wide before sliding the ball into the net - a composed finish.
Bournemouth desperately attempted to pull a goal back ahead of the interval and Barnard had an effort well blocked by Bishop. Pugh also tried his luck, after cutting inside from the left wing, but Bialkowski gathered smartly inside his six-yard box.
After the break, Notts were almost caught out at the back when Barnard added a headed flick-on to a long clearance by James. Pugh targeted the bottom corner from an acute angle but Bialkowski somehow got down to divert the ball wide.
Failure to cope with another direct punt from defence led to the Cherries making it 2-1. Donal McDermott held off two Notts defenders provided a clever backheel for McQuoid, who stroked confidently into the bottom-left corner.
On 54, Campbell-Ryce made fine use of the right wing to set up Neal Bishop on the edge of the area. The skipper’s deflected strike cannoned back off the bar and James smothered Arquin’s follow-up header.
Pugh won a penalty for Bournemouth in the 60th minute, when he cut between a trio of Notts players and went to ground, allegedly tripped by Bishop. The referee dismissed protests and Arter fired into the top-right corner from 12 yards.
Andre Boucaud nearly regained County’s lead with a low attempt, after the ball had broken for him inside the box, but James reacted quickly to make the save. The goalkeeper later touched away a teasing cross by Gary Liddle, which seemed certain to find a black and white shirt.
Curle introduced the goal-scoring threat of Lee Hughes with 21 minutes remaining at the expense of Zoko. However, it was the other Hughes, Jeff, that came close next, when he headed over from Campbell-Ryce’s out-swinging corner.
Bishop, who had given away the earlier penalty, won one back late on, when he was tripped by Shaun MacDonald. Campbell-Ryce, following a discussion with Jeff Hughes, took on the kick and placed underneath James, into the bottom-right corner.
The wideman, who had terrorized the Cherries’ backline from the flanks all game, celebrated passionately in front of the Kop and then the Derek Pavis Stand. His 84th minute goal, the home fans seemed certain, was the winner.
One minute later, the Magpies' fans were silenced, when a delivery into the box from the left made its way to Tubbs. From a tight angle, the substitute managed to squeeze the ball past Bialkowski to make it 3-3 – the final score.