Notts County were held to a 1-1 draw by Sutton United at Gander Green Lane.
The hosts took a one-goal lead into the break after Harry Beautyman’s early opener but a more threatening second-half display saw Kyle Wootton restore parity and home stoper Jamie Butler produce some superb work to preserve a point for the south-Londoners.
Neal Ardley made three changes to the side that drew with Solihull in midweek.
Connell Rawlinson, Regan Booty and Kristian Dennis came into the starting line-up with Sam Graham, Jim O’Brien and Wes Thomas having to settle for a place on the bench.
Kyle Wootton partnered Dennis up top as the Magpies lined up in a 4-4-2 formation.
But it was the nightmare start for Ardley’s men when, with 11 minutes on the clock, Sutton put themselves ahead through Beautyman, who stretched to meet a low cross at the back post before squeezing the ball beyond Sam Slocombe from a narrow angle.
It could, and perhaps should, have been 2-0 five minutes later when dangerous winger David Ajiboye burst away down the right and picked out Tommy Wright with his cut-back. The forward got underneath his first-time shot, however, sending the ball over the bar from around 10 yards out.
Former Magpie Rob Milsom was the next to have a crack for the hosts, curling a 25-yard free-kick goalwards only to see Slocombe make a comfortable save.
Notts were struggling to create clear-cut chances and the closest they went in the opening half an hour was through a Wootton cross-shot which missed the target with home keeper Jamie Butler scrambling.
And that chance proved to be something of a catalyst as, moments later, Notts twice came close in quick succession. The opening came when Booty nicked the ball in Sutton’s half before he released Dennis into the area. Butler narrowed the angle and made a strong save but the danger wasn’t over as the ball bounced out to Booty. His finish was blocked by a defender on the line, much to the anguish of the Notts fans gathered behind the goal.
There were no changes for Notts at the break but it didn’t take long for the Magpies to alter the scoreline in their favour after the restart.
Wootton was the man to restore parity, receiving the ball in space just outside the area and lashing the ball beyond Butler with a well-struck effort.
Notts were now the dominant force and they had an opportunity to turn the game on its head shortly before the hour when neat build-up led to a shooting chance for Damien McCrory inside the area. He could only bend the ball well wide, however, on his weaker right foot.
Ardley’s men then went close again as Mitch Rose’s long throw caused panic in the Sutton area, leading to Butler having to push the ball over his own crossbar under pressure.
Booty nodded Dion Kelly-Evans’ cross wide as Notts continued to apply pressure to the hosts’ defence.
And the left-midfielder nearly scored a spectacular goal minutes later when his left-footed effort from 25 yards was brilliantly tipped over by the acrobatic Butler.
And Butler went one better moments later, denying Dennis with an incredible instinctive save after the forward had flicked a header goalwards six yards out.
That was to be Dennis’ final action as he made way for Thomas. Booty also departed, with debutant Sean Shields replacing him.
Sutton had barely threatened in the second half but Beautyman looked to deal the Magpies a late sucker punch when he met Craig Eastmond’s cross with a volley in the area. He couldn’t keep the ball down, however.
Graham replaced the hobbling Rawlinson with two minutes of normal time remaining in a like-for-like switch in central defence.
Four additional minutes were added on at the end of the match, towards the end of which Eastmond flashed a dangerous ball across the face of goal.
But there were to be no further chances for either side as the match ended in stalemate.