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20:41 1st December 2009

Notts County 4-0 Darlington

By Dane Vincent Hans Backe picked up his first three points in the league with a comfortable win over bottom of the league Darlington. Luke Rodgers opened, capitalising on an accurate through-ball, before Lee Hughes doubled the lead a minute later. Ben Davies slotted home the third shortly after, skidding to squeeze the ball into the corner. Hughes grabbed the fourth with a delightful chip to round off another convincing win in front of the Meadow Lane crowd. Following a victory in the FA Cup away at Bournemouth, Notts were searching for a return to winning ways in the league. Bottom placed Darlington introduced a handful of debutant loanees with the hope of adding to the solitary point picked up on their travels so far this term. Early indications made this seem unlikely as Notts looked dangerous going forward from the first whistle. Although patient, Backe's team were breaking regularly inside the final third, despite the visitors getting plenty of bodies behind the ball. Inside the opening minute Notts had the ball in the net, when the well advanced Brendan Moloney swung a cross into the path of Rodgers. The front-man coolly side-footed into the corner off the post, but celebrations were cut short by the linesman's flag. His second effort was more successful as Hughes' dainty lobbed pass set him clear of his marker inside the box. Quakers stopper Ashlee Jones rushed out but was left stranded as Rodgers prodded past him and slotted the ball into the net on the goal-line. County doubled their lead a minute later through Hughes, who latched onto a deep Craig Westcarr cross from the right. He rose highest above a number of defenders to nod into the bottom corner, before dancing in front of the Family Stand. Matt Ritchie's volley threatened before Notts grabbed their third. Hughes capitalised on a loose ball to power a header forward for his lively strike-partner, Rodgers, to chase after. Racing down the left, Rodgers outpaced his marker and centred towards the encroaching Ben Davies. The creative midfielder had acres of space and only the goalkeeper to beat, which he did with ease, slipping the ball into the corner with his first touch. Ritchie should have made it four when a defensive clanger allowed Notts room to break. Westcarr took advantage of the space, setting the on-loan winger through on goal, only Jones denied him with his legs as he attempted to skip past. Mor Diop nearly pulled one back for the visitors just before the interval when he found space at the edge of the area. He directed the ball towards to the bottom corner but Kasper Schmeichel stretched low to flick around his left post. After half-time Darlington came out with a little more fire in their bellies and almost got off to the perfect start. Finding time on the right flank, Danny Groves' crossed onto the head of centre-back Danny Hall, who directed narrowly over. The Magpies remained the dominant side and were still carving out plenty of opportunities without stepping into top gear. Hughes should have added his second of the evening when he was presented with two of these chances. Firstly, Rodgers was fed into the channel to loop a cross into the box from the touchline. Jones flapped towards Notts' 13-goal forward but redeemed himself by spreading to block the powerful strike. From the resulting corner Hughes connected with Davies' delivery to nod inches wide of the target. Schmeichel was by no means redundant with Steve Staunton's men producing a number of testing attempts themselves. County's number 23 was forced to shut out Jeff Smith's low drive, as well as thump away Paul Harsley's hopeful punt. With safety between the sticks, Notts looked increasingly likely to extend the deficit. Newly introduced, Karl Hawley turned cleverly on a low Jamie pass and fired just over. Hughes went one better by netting the fourth and final goal of the game. Matthew Hamshaw's swinging pass into the channel tempted Jones out of his goal and Hughes proceeded to loop the ball into the far corner from a tight angle. Another highlight of the match was the introduction of promising young midfielder Nathan Fox, much to the appreciation of the home spectators. County climb to sixth in the table and narrow gap on the automatic promotion places. A win on Saturday against Hereford United could reduce it to just one point. Attendance: 4,606 (123 Darlington supporters) Hillside Medical Man of the Match: Kasper Schmeichel Notts County: Kasper Schmeichel, Brendan Moloney, Graeme Lee, John Thompson, Jamie Clapham, Craig Westcarr (Hamshaw 68), Ricky Ravenhill, Ben Davies, Matt Ritchie (Fox 85), Lee Hughes, Luke Rodgers (Hawley 62). Substitutes: Russell Hoult, Mike Edwards, Matt Hamshaw, Karl Hawley, Dan Jones, Ade Akinbiyi, Nathan Fox. Scorer(s): Rodgers (13), Hughes (14, 79), Davies (17) Yellow Card(s): Thompson (21) Darlington: Ashlee Jones, Ian Miller, Jeff Smith, Danny Groves, Stuart Giddings, James Collins, Jonathan Hogg, Simon Thomas (Thorpe 55), Mor Diop (Gray), Danny Hall, Paul Harsley. Substitutes: Mark Bower, Lee Thorpe, Josh Gray, Nick Liversedge, Gary Smith, Curtis Main, Nathan Mulligan. Scorer(s): None Yellow Card(s): Thorpe (80), Hall (90)
    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.