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13:54 6th December 2010

Super Sub Hughes Nets Winner

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Fraser Brown

Super sub Lee Hughes gave Paul Ince his first league win in charge with a last-gasp winner against Swindon Town.

The teams went in at the break on level terms, though both had chances to go in front. Notts left it late to secure the win and it was fitting that Hughes came off the bench to grab the decisive strike two minutes from time.

Failure to take advantage of a dominant 90 minutes against Tranmere Rovers at the weekend made this fixture even more important for the Magpies. Paul Ince's team remained in the drop zone, three points adrift of safety, but a win would potentially lift them above Plymouth on goal difference.

Two changes were made from the team that lost 1-0 to Tranmere on Saturday, with Jon Harley slotting in at left-back and Lee Miller making his first start for the club in attack. Hughes, who only returned to training the day before the match, was deemed fit enough to take up a seat on the bench.

Notts certainly started the brighter of the two outfits and had visiting goalkeeper Phil Smith worried on two occasions in the opening stages. Miller almost capitalised on a goalmouth hesitation but couldn't get a shot away and Westcarr forced him into a strong stop with a stern hit from a tight angle.

Still, the Robins showed much more offensive optimism than Tranmere, who Notts had pinned in their own half for much of the game, and threatened themselves inside the first 10 minutes. Michael Timlin was given too much space from a throw-in and was able to unleash a fierce hit from the edge of the box, only for Mike Edwards to shut him out with an outstanding block.

Miller was proving to be a quite a handful for the visiting backline and he managed to carve out numerous openings for his teammates. First, his headed knockdown allowed Neal Bishop to volley narrowly wide, whilst another of his flick-ons found Westcarr, who cleared the top-right corner by inches with a powerful half volley.

Westcarr was in the thick of the action again when he raced onto Alan Judge's lofted through pass. He looked set to fire home but a last-ditch challenge by Lecsinel Jean-Francois denied him, prompting heated calls for a penalty from the home ends.

Following a Notts corner, Swindon should have gone in front from a quick breakaway attack. Former Magpie Matt Ritchie cut the ball back from the by-line into the path of David Prutton but Rob Burch rushed speedily off his line to charge down the ex-Forest midfielder's effort.

But, it was his opposite number, Smith, to be tested next, shortly into the second period. Judge's cross had been headed clear towards Ricky Ravenhill, whose thumping shot from the edge of the area required the stopper to desperately palm away.

At the other end of the field, in front of the Family Stand, the Notts defence failed to rid the danger from a Swindon corner. This led to Charlie Austin heading powerfully past Burch but, fortunately for Notts, Edwards was behind him to clear on the goal line.
Jon-Paul McGovern, was introduced for the visitors and he came close with half an hour remaining on the clock. Burch had to react quickly again to fist away the midfielder's stunning drive, which looked destined to find the net.

For County, it didn't seem to be Ben Davies' day, as he watched two free kicks come agonisingly close. The crowd were on their feet when his first skimmed past the left post and again when Smith hesitantly pushed another around his post after evading everyone else.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, Hughes was introduced, immediately rousing the home faithful. And, last season's top-scorer couldn't have made a better impact.

As the scoreboard ticked away towards the 90 mark, Westcarr made space to float a diagonal centre towards the frontman from the right. Escaping his marker, he collected but appeared to struggle to get the ball out of his feet, though this didn't stop him placing it into the bottom-right corner.

The roof lifted off the Meadow Lane Stadium - the goal's importance exemplified. Still, there were five minutes of added time to weather.

Prutton's header from Michael Rose's near post corner almost ruined the celebrations but he failed to hit the target. Rose also fired a free kick into the stands, much to the relief of the County players and fans.

Attendance: 4,644 (365 Swindon Town supporters)

Fraser Brown

Fraser Brown Man of the Match: Stephen Darby

    Data provided by Press Association


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