By Dane Vincent
Notts County's number 59 ball will be in the hat for tomorrow's FA Cup draw after coming from behind to claim a hard-fought victory against Bournemouth.
Brett Pitman had put the home side in front, but goals from Lee Hughes and Craig Westcarr made the long trip from Nottingham totally worthwhile for the hundreds of travelling fans.
Undefeated in November and top of League Two, Bournemouth posed a tricky test. With a mid-week loss to Rochdale still fresh in the memory, the Magpies were keen to silence any doubters by throwing their name into the hat for tomorrow's third round draw.
It looked set to be an interesting affair with the cash-strapped Cherries eyeing a money-spinning match to ease their financial concerns. County, on the other hand, were looking to reach the third stage of the tournament for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.
Both sides struggled to stamp their authority on the game early doors, although exciting winger Sammy Igoe seemed eager to get his team on the front foot. In a half-chance, created by a Liam Feeney delivery from the right, he opened up his body to volley just past the scampering Kasper Schmeichel's left upright.
Making the most of the lighter cup balls, Igoe forced the first save of the afternoon shortly after. With the ball evidently shifting in the air, Schmeichel crouched tentatively to push the long-range effort towards the wing.
Notts, decorated in their all-blue attire, appeared to be biding their time, looking to catch Bournemouth on the counter. Hughes, in his team's first real attempt, outmuscled his marker to control a long ball, but his curling effort bypassed the top corner.
Hans Backe's side appeared to be enjoying a little more of the possession when a break-away goal by Pitman put the home team ahead. The in-form striker raced free, escaping the offside trap, to place a tidy finish into the bottom-right corner.
It appeared to spark the game into life, with the Magpies knowing that failure to score would see them dumped out of the competition. Demonstrating greater attacking determination, a fast flowing move, involving Westcarr, Ben Davies and Johnnie Jackson, resulted in Westcarr making debutant stopper, Dan Thomas, save well down to his left.
Backe introduced Matt Ritchie at half-time to&nbsp;increase his side's attacking threat. Reverting to a 4-4-2 formation, Westcarr joined Hughes up-front.
Notts wasted no time in drawing level when Hughes' flicked shot skidded through the goalkeeper's legs. Ritchie had roamed over to the right to swing in the low cross for the top-scorer to cleverly convert. &nbsp;
Schmeichel kept County on even terms, fisting away a powerful free-kick from Pitman. The effort beat the wall but the glove-man stooped low to divert the ball to safety, taking no risks on the increasingly greasy pitch.
The importance of the save was emphasised moments later when Ritchie's defence splitting through-ball sent Westcarr through on goal. Steadying himself, the former Kettering man struck&nbsp;assertively at Thomas, who could deflect the ball into his own net.
Notts continued to grow in confidence, enjoying more of the play and seemingly showing more fight, closing down enthusiastically. Conditions worsened, too, as the rainfall grew heavier, forcing multiple slips in possession and encouraging an entertaining selection of slide-tackles.
Ritchie's grit was still causing problems in the puddles, as he wriggled free to fire wide from the edge of the box. Davies followed minutes later, after some intricate interplay in the final third, with a hashed attempt.
Bournemouth thought they had levelled through Alan Connell, only he was pencilled into the ref's book for another reason - a yellow card. Rather than leading with his head, he had slapped the ball past Schmeichel, leading Mr East to silence the celebrations in the home ends.
As water began to flood the turf, the conditions favoured both rearguards, as passes and dribbles became halted in their tracks. Tension&nbsp;lingered, however, as Schmeichel saved low to his right and Feeney's lob floated just over the crossbar inside the four minutes of added time.
Notts held out and will now be hoping to take on one of the Premiership's finest next month in the third round. The draw will take place at 3.55pm on ITV1 after the match between Leeds and Kettering.
Man of the Match: Matt Ritchie
Notts County: Kasper Schmeichel, John Thompson, Graeme Lee, Mike Edwards, Jamie Clapham, Ricky Ravenhill (Ritchie 46), Neal Bishop, Johnnie Jackson, Craig Westcarr, Ben Davies, Lee Hughes.
Substitutes: Russell Hoult, Dan Jones, Matthew Hamshaw, Matt Ritchie, Luke Rodgers, Karl Hawley.
Scorer(s): Hughes (49)
Yellow Card(s): Lee (73), Hughes (90)
Bournemouth: Dan Thomas, Anton Robinson, Jason Pearce, Ryan Garry, Warren Cummings, Marvin Bartley (Hollands 72), Lee Bradbury, Alan Connell (Fletcher 72), Sammy Igoe (McQoid 64), Liam Feeney, Brett Pitman.
Substitutes: Danny Hollands, Josh McQoid, Steve Fletcher, Joe Partington, Jeff Goulding.
Scorer(s): Pitman (38),
Yellow Card(s): Connell (72)