NOTTS CO 1
STANLEY manager John Coleman admitted after his side drew with Notts County that it was the kind of game they "should be winning."
The Reds took a point for the first time since January’s 3-3 draw with Chester but it wasn't enough to leave the boss totally satisfied.
The clash had seemed destined to end goalless after both sides had rattled the woodwork.
But then County’s Sean Canham looked like he had tucked away a winner in the final minute of normal time.
The substitute latched onto a poor backpass from Peter Cavanagh and slotted the ball passed Kenny Arthur to open the scoring.
"I thought Peter had had a great game up to that point, but you can’t legislate for that and no-one’s as disappointed as Peter," said Coleman of his captain.
But a point was salvaged courtesy of Jimmy Ryan in second half stoppage time against draw-specialists County.
Goalkeeper Russell Hoult unconvincingly punched from the edge of his box allowing Colin Murdock to head the ball back.
Ryan drove it from outside the area and, with the help of a deflection, registered his second goal for the club to save a point for Stanley.
"We kept going right to the end and, if you give them any credit, it’s that we’ve shown a lot of guts to come back and get an equaliser when we’ve gifted them a goal in the 90th minute," Coleman reflected.
But the Reds’ chief was frustrated that the game was settled by the late drama after Stanley had been on top in the first half.
"I think our performance in the first half merited us being in front," he said.
"But, for whatever reason. we seem have a mental block when we dominate games and don’t score.
"We tend to go into our shell. That was certainly the case in the second half."
It was the home side that made the greatest impression in the early stages, with Jamie Clarke and debutant Rostyn Griffiths both dirtying Hoult’s gloves.
Paul Mullin also went close, nodding Ryan’s right wing cross wide before the Republic of Ireland Under 21 international lashed a shot into the side netting.
And Stanley had the ball in the net ten minutes before the break when the elder Mullin headed home Cavanagh’s free kick only to see the assistant referee give off-side.
Stanley seemed in control but almost threw it all away a minute before the half-time whistle.
Then Arthur was alert to turn Matt Hamshaw’s shot around the post and, from the resulting corner, only the crossbar denied defender Michael Johnson the opening goal for the visitors.
And this seemed to give the Magpies - without a league win this season - hope as, after the interval, they began to turn the screw.
Myles Weston hit the side netting and then Johnson again heading over.
But they came closest ten minutes in when Weston’s powerful strike from the left beat Arthur but came back off the far post.
County’s purple patch was certainly exasperating as Coleman admitted: "They had a 25 minute spell where they had a lot of play and we backed off them a little bit which was disappointing.
"It was a shame that we couldn’t sustain the pressure that we had in the first half."
But as the game wore on, the Reds did refind their feet and they might have had a penalty in the 66th minute went Chris King went down under a challenge in the box. The referee was unmoved and waved play on.
And, moments later it was Stanley’s turn to hit the crossbar; Cavanagh’s curling free kick beating the wall and the goalkeeper - but unfortunately for the Reds, not the woodwork.
Just as it seemed that 0-0 was on the cards, Canham struck with his late effort and Magpies boss Ian McParland must have believed their first three points of the season were in the bag.
But this only led to Stanley launching attack after attack on Hoult’s goal in an exciting finale - and ultimately finding the equaliser.
Ryan struck in injury time and the Reds continued to threaten with David Worrall having a late chance saved but time ran out before they could grab a winner.
"To be honest I thought we were going to nick a winner in the end but it wasn’t to be," Coleman confessed.
But he was more upset that his side weren’t awarded a penalty for the challenge on King.
"There’s no point moaning about penalties," he said.
"I’ve just accepted the fact that we’re never going to get a penalty again.
"If you accept that fact then if you do get one it’s a bonus, but I don't expect us ever to get one.
"I might be wrong. It might just be because I’m so possibly biased and so worked up that I think that everything is an injustice so I’m not going to complain about that.
"I’m just glad that we got ourselves into a situation in the box where we were threatening and we’ve got to take credit from that.
"It was a good game and I think some people will go home happy that we haven't rolled over and died at 1-0.
"We’ve got to go and take that into the next time we play."