Yeovil Town and Notts County battled out a thrilling 0-0 draw at a cold Huish Park stadium this afternoon.
Both sides had enough chances to win the match at a canter but with both keepers on top of their game and both sets of defenders defending with their lives, a draw always seemed the most likely result between two sides with playoff ambitions.
Alan Judge went closest for County with a shot that missed the far post by inches while visiting keeper Bartosz Bialkowski produced a brilliant diving save to deny Dan Burn’s header from a corner as both sides entertained the pre-Christmas crowd with a fizzing match that flowed from end-to-end but was frequently halted by an inconsistent display of refereeing by official Andrew Madley who booked seven players, five from the visiting Magpies.
Yeovil manager Gary Johnson had lost winger Keanu Marsh-Brown through suspension so moved to bring back Paddy Madden after the striker missed the Reid, James Hayter and Gozie Ugwu all had to be content with places on the bench.
There was drama right from the off as Luke Ayling was booked for bringing down Jeff Hughes right outside the box after just twenty seconds. The free kick was blocked and Chris Iwelumo’s follow up also was deflected. Neal Bishop then saw his shot saved by the legs of Marek Stech a minute later as the game got off to a frantic start.
Byron Webster and Ed Upson both saw efforts fly over the crossbar as the Glovers retaliated quickly and Iwelumo wasted a glorious opportunity when he miskicked in front of goal from Alan Sheehan’s ball into the area. The game continued to ebb and flow; Sam Foley volleyed wide, Ed Upson headed over and Joe Edwards curled a shot just wide of the far post while at the other end, Bishop headed a Alan Judge free kick into the side netting.
County’s physical side was entering more and more into proceedings with Gavin Mahon booked for lunging in on Edwards and Bishop yellow-carded for an accumulation of fouls, ending in one on Upson. Stech then denied Yoann Arquin with a fantastic save before Dean Leacock became the third County player in the referee’s notebook for clattering into Foley.
Upson was then denied by a brilliant save from Bialkowski in the County goal after being set up by Foley’s slide rule pass and both Williams and Edwards also went close in the early stages of the second half. It was then that referee Madley came to prominence, booking three more players including Foley for simulation which baffled everyone at the ground as he was about to pull the trigger on a shot.
Judge and Sheehan both saw yellows in close time and Sheehan was lucky not to see a second yellow, and subsequent red, when he dived down on the left flank. Referee Madley indicated it was a dive but inexplicably refused to show the inevitable second yellow that would have seen the player dismissed.
Burn then thought he had given the Glovers the lead when his header from a McAllister corner was magnificently saved by Polish keeper Bialkowski despite many Yeovil players believing the ball had crossed the line. Judge then went even closer with a pulled shot across goal that shaved the outside of the post.
The last twenty minutes were as frantic as the first seventy with both sides going for it. Madden volleyed at Bialkowski when a yard either side of him would have seen the deadlock broken but the game ended in stalemate despite there being twenty shots and sixteen corners; Yeovil the better team but County able to extend their unbeaten away record to twenty games.