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Notts County bounced back from two defeats in a row this afternoon with a 2-0 win over Plymouth Argyle.
Craig Westcarr gave County the lead on 35 minutes with an unstoppable hit. The lead was then doubled after the break by John Spicer's cool finish.
Two games, two defeats and no goals, yet spirits remained high in the Magpies camp, due to the manner of recent performances. It appeared that it would only be a matter of time before such impressive displays paid off, though Plymouth were demonstrating great form on the road so far this campaign.
Fans were evidently buoyed by the announcement that Lee Hughes was on the teamsheet, after being declared fit, despite recent hip troubles. Neal Bishop, who was suspended last Saturday, also returned to the starting 11 to join Ricky Ravenhill in the centre of midfield, with Spicer shifting onto the right flank.
Westcarr was given more attacking freedom in a forward role and his energy was causing plenty of problems for the Plymouth rearguard in the opening stages. Twice he nearly assisted Hughes, first with a near post cross that was cut out by Bondz N'Gala and then with a smart pass into the striker's feet, which resulted in him bending narrowly wide of the target on the turn.
But, the best opportunity in the first 10 minutes came from Ben Davies' front post corner, which Mike Edwards flicked across goal towards his defensive partner, Krystian Pearce. Unable to control the ball, a scramble unfolded but, somehow, nobody was able to get a shot away.
Plymouth's first notable opening came on 26 minutes, following Craig Noone's clever turn between his two markers on the left wing. Firing low across the face of goal, Bradley Wright-Phillips could only watch as the ball evaded him at the back post.
Both sides were cancelling each other out to an extent but from the first of numerous County corners, Westcarr sparked the game into life with a thunderous effort. The Argyle defence had failed to clear and, from the corner of the six-yard box, the forward smashed the ball through a hoard of players, into the far top corner.
And, he could have added another ahead of the interval when Ben Davies' hooked pass found him. Westcarr prodded into the side netting, beating the visiting goalkeeper, Roman Larrieu, to the ball, though jeers from the Kop ensued, claiming for handball by one of the retreating defenders - to no avail.
A minute into the second period, the Pilgrims could have been level, after Pearce's attempted clearance was charged down. Dean Parret threaded in Wright-Phillips, but Neal Bishop cut out the frontman's centre.
County made them pay for this when Westcarr deftly prodded through Bishop's long pass to Spicer. Racing through on goal, Spicer calmly placed the ball between the outrushing Larrieu's legs to make it 2-0.
Bishop had to be withdrawn moments later with an injury to his right leg. Kevin Smith was introduced as his replacement, with Westcarr switching to the wing and Spicer filling the void in the middle.
The visitors were eager to claw their way back into the game and perhaps should have from a long through, which led to Wright-Phillips volleying over. Equally, Notts were searching for a third and Ricky Ravenhill came close from a well-worked corner, but he struck high and wide.
Peter Reid's men had their work cut out in their search for a goal, as the home backline continued to cut out any hint on an attacking threat. Edwards was the central figure in this, making his commanding presence felt, and there were no surprises when his name was called out as Man of the Match.
In the centre of the park, Notts had another blow when Spicer also had to be omitted because of a knock to his head. Another move around saw Smith revert to the left wing and the newly introduced Karl Hawley take his place up front.
Four minutes of added time didn't see the Magpies troubled and Hughes could have even grabbed his team a third with an ambitious, bending attempt. It was a resolute defensive showing, too, and a first clean sheet since the Yeovil victory at the start of September was wholly deserved.
Thomas Cook Man of the Match: Mike Edwards
Attendance: 6,333 (674 Plymouth Argyle supporters)