The first-half goal by Kristian Dennis was his 15th in 34 games for Notts County this season

Notts County kept alive hopes of an immediate return to the English Football League as they beat Barnet in the National League play-off semi-finals.

Kristian Dennis gave Notts the lead when he headed home from six yards following a great run and cross by Jim O’Brien.

Callum Roberts made it 2-0 after some excellent close control saw him beat two defenders before calmly side-footing into the bottom corner from close range.

The Magpies will face a Harrogate side who have never made it out of non-league football in the promotion final at Wembley on Sunday, 2 August after they beat Boreham Wood 1-0 in the first semi-final.

County, who last season were relegated from the EFL for the first time in their 157-year history, had the best of an attritional first half that was affected by torrential rain.

Roberts had a curling free-kick saved after 15 minutes, while he should have scored five minutes after Dennis had put his side ahead, but dragged his shot wide after Kyle Wootton’s flick on.

The Bees started the second half strongly, Ephron Mason-Clark forcing a good save from Sam Slocombe.

At the other end Dennis was twice denied by Barnet keeper Scott Loach a minute before Roberts’ goal.

Barnet, who won 2-0 at Yeovil Town last week to set up the tie, sent on strikers Simeon Akinola and Shaquile Coulthirst but they were unable to make a breakthrough and will play in the National League for a third consecutive season.

The North London side created few clear chances with Alfie Pavey’s 85th-minute close-range header that flew over the bar from close range their best opportunity to pull a goal back.



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