Notts County manager Neal Ardley lauded his side’s ‘unbelievable’ second-half performance during Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the Cobblers, though he did also admit they had to ride their luck en route to a valuable point.
County’s precarious position at the bottom of the League Two table ahead of kick-off – inside the relegation zone on goal difference only – made for a tense, anxious afternoon at Meadow Lane.
Our performance in the second-half was unbelievable. We had to keep changing the formation to stay solid and the boys did it really well.
Home nerves were initially eased by Mitch Rose’s sweet strike on 27 minutes but Daniel Powell levelled late in the first-half before Sam Hoskins put Town 2-1 ahead five minutes into the second after Magpies goalkeeper Ryan Schofield was sent off.
But 10-man County fought back as Kane Hemmings levelled two minutes later and they then dug extremely deep to keep the Cobblers at bay in the remaining 40 minutes to come away with a share of the spoils.
And the draw would have been enough to take Ardley’s team out of the bottom two had Yeovil Town not grabbed a stoppage-time equaliser at Swindon.
“When we went behind, it’s easy to think there’s no chance,” said Ardley. “Kane and Jon Stead did brilliantly to get us the equaliser.
“You fear the worst when trailing 2-1 with 10 men but we showed the character, fight and all the other things that were asked of us after the Exeter loss.
“Our performance in the second-half was unbelievable. We had to keep changing the formation to stay solid and the boys did it really well.
“Granted, we had to ride our luck at times, but the character and work ethic is a million miles away from what it was when I arrived in December, which is all we can ask.
“People say they want to see fight and the lads giving everything for the team, and that’s what they are doing.”
County were reliant on substitute goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimons, who made a series of important saves following his introduction early in the second-half.
“There’s no doubt he can come in and do a brilliant job,” Ardley added. “He did that today. He had to be ready when called upon and made some good saves.
“Sam Stubbs did well, too, after making the mistake for the red card – he rolled his sleeves up and defended like a lion for the remainder of the match. It’s a good point today, which we have to respect because they are all vital.”