Match Sponsored By: Nottingham Post
Notts County suffered defeat this afternoon at the hands of Tranmere Rovers thanks to Enoch Showunmi's 50th minute finish.
County predominantly dictated the first 45 but numerous chances went begging. Ben Davies, Neal Bishop and Alan Judge all came close but none were able to break the deadlock.
Showunmi's strike five minutes into the second half punished Notts' missed opportunities. And, despite dominating the stats in all areas, even after the interval, the hosts were unable to salvage a share of the spoils.
Although players and management alike refused to class the match as a six-pointer at this point of the season, it certainly carried great significance. Tranmere sat just one place above Paul Ince's team and a win would lift the Magpies out of the relegation zone.
Striker Lee Hughes was missing through illness and Jon Harley was suspended, meaning Craig Westcarr and Stephen Hunt came into the starting 11. Thomas Ince partnered Westcarr in attack at the expense of Karl Hawley and Neal Bishop took the place of John Spicer in the centre of midfield.
Notts started very brightly and created a host of early chances. The first of these saw Bishop fire wide, after collecting a headed clearance on the edge of the box.
Moments later, when Westcarr was tripped 25 yards out, Ben Davies stepped up to fire just over the bar from the resulting free kick. The crowd thought the shot had put Notts in front, especially when the scoreboard flashed 'GOAL', but the ball had cannoned back off the advertising boards, against the rear of the goal.
Ricky Ravenhill created the next opportunity, halting a session of head tennis with some fine control, before volleying a diagonal ball to Alan Judge on the right wing. The energetic wideman beat his marker, though his hammered centre evaded everyone.
Judge, like in last weekend's trip to Exeter, was seeing plenty of the ball and threatened again when he dragged an effort wide of the target, following a neat interchange with Ince. Davies was the first to test the away goalkeeper, Peter Gulacsi, though, with a hit that forced him into a fine stop low to his right.
Davies' next punt was even more promising, as he had Gulacsi stretching even further towards his bottom right corner. However, the ball grazed the wrong side of the upright.
For all these opportunities in the first period, Notts went unrewarded. And, it epitomised the Magpies' season when Showunmi put Rovers ahead from their first real opening of the game on 50 minutes.
Former Forest striker Ian Thomas-Moore had been played into acres of space down the right flank and he managed to fire a low centre across the face of goal. The retreating Liam Chilvers was able to get a slight touch on the ball but it wasn't enough to stop the 6ft 5ins Showunmi from rifling into the top corner.
Ince came close to levelling the scores within minutes of the opener. As Tramere struggled to rid the danger, Bishop headed into his path, only his attempt contained more power than placement and flew wide.
Mike Edwards had an even better chance to grab an equaliser. Judge, from the left wing, drifted an in-swinging delivery towards the back post but the centre-back glanced just past the post.
Rovers were getting plenty of men behind the ball to hold out for a crucial three points. But, they were down to 10 on 75 minutes for an elbow on Ravenhill by Joss Labadie.
On 80 minutes, another delightful, floated cross to the back post by Davies found the advancing Stephen Darby. Anticipation grew as the full-back looked set to hammer home but he was unable to tame the pass and Notts had to settle for a corner.
Lee Miller, who came off the bench for his debut, headed directly at Gulacsi as the fixture progressed into four minutes of added time. Another substitute, Karl Hawley, came close, as well, with a quick turn and shot but, again, Gulacsi blocked, condemning Notts to a sixth loss in seven outings.
Attendance: 5,782 (577 Tranmere Rovers supporters)
Nottingham Post Man of the Match: Ben Davies