Notts County 0 Torquay United 0

Notts County keeper Sam Slocombe gets a hand to a ball as Torquay United player Billy Waters closes

Notts County keeper Sam Slocombe gets a hand to a ball as Torquay United player Billy Waters closes in during the Vanarama National League Match between Notts County and Torquay United at Meadow Lane, Nottingham on Jan 23rd - PHOTO: Steve Bond/PPAUK - Credit: Steve Bond/Pinnacle

They couldn’t quite force their first win at Meadow Lane for 50 years, but Torquay United grafted their way to a valuable point against promotion rivals Notts County which keeps them eight points clear at the top of the National League.  

Sub Josh Umerah had the Gulls’ best chance of what would have been a big win midway through the second half, but Notts’ leading scorer Kyle Wootton missed just as good an opening in the 90th minute.  

Although Gary Johnson’s men gave at least as good as they got, a draw was probably a fair result between two sides who both confirmed their promotion credentials.  

Johnson gave new Hull City loan signing Max Sheaf his debut in midfield for Asa Hall (calf), but he also sprung a bit of a surprise by choosing Billy Waters as a lone targetman over the more muscular Umerah or new loanee Rob Street.  

How Innih Effiong escaped without a booking for a bad foul on Randell early on was a mystery – presumably referee Tom Reeves didn’t see it clearly – and United were then miffed when Kyle Cameron was cautioned for a routine offence.  

The Gulls did live dangerously at the back at times, and were thankful that goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald was in alert and positive form throughout.  

United looked the likelier to score in the first half. Waters tested Sam Slocombe from 20 yards on a good break by Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, and in the 32nd minute County defender Connell Rawlinson deflected a Ben Whitfield cross-shot over his own bar.  

Most Read

Torquay were never going to win too many headers up front, but they kept seizing on plenty of ‘second balls’, and Johnson must have been reasonably content at half-time.  

Notts had been well contained before Umerah replaced Waters in the 58th minute, and moments later Umerah was inches away from finishing a fine move down the left between Nemane and Whitfield.  

Armani Little took over from Sheaf, and later Andrews for Randell, as United kept trying to turn one point into three. An already good game opened out in the last half hour as United took a few more risks in search of victory.  

Umerah headed another Whitfield cross wide at the near post before, in the 84th minute, missing a big chance on Lemonheigh-Evans’ driven low cross from the right into the six-yard box.  

But at the other end MacDonald also had to spring into action, completing an excellent afternoon for him with saves from Reeves and Wootton.  

In the last few moments, Cameron had a goalbound drive deflected behind by a home defender and Wootton, normally good in front of goal, sidefooted wide from eight yards – just as good a chance as Umerah’s at the other end a few minutes earlier.  

Notts County (4-4-2): Slocombe; Brindley Miller 87), Carey, Rawlinson, Kelly-Evans; Rodrigues, Doyle, Reeves, Boldewijn (O’Brien 76); Wootton, Effiong (Sam 61); subs not used – Knowles, Wolfe.  

Booked: Wootton 37.  

Torquay United (4-4-1-1) : MacDonald; Sherring, Warren (Andrews 90), Cameron, Moxey: Nemane, Sheaf (Little 63), Randell, Whitfield; Lemonheigh-Evans: Waters (Umerah 58); subs not used – Hamon, Street.  

Booked: Cameron 12.  

Referee: Tom Reeves (Warwicks).