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15:58 28th December 2010

Hard Fought Draw

Two early goals led to a share of the spoils at Home Park this afternoon, as Notts County and Plymouth Argyle battled out a 1-1 draw.

In a first half packed with chances, Stephane Zubar opened the scoring, putting the hosts ahead inside four minutes. However, it didn't take long for Lee Hughes to grab the equaliser, taking his goal tally to nine for the season.

On the back of two festive postponements, Notts were finally able to compete, with the aim of extending their run of wins to four games. Plymouth had strung together a couple of victories of their own, making it a difficult one for the bookies to call ahead of kick-off.

Paul Ince made a couple of changes from the FA Cup win over AFC Bournemouth on December 14. Alan Judge, who was cup-tied on that day, and Lee Miller took the places of Thomas Ince and Ricky Ravenhill in the starting 11, making up a 4-4-2 formation.

Notts had an early scare from Karl Arnason's throw-in, which saw Zubar produce a headed flick-on, forcing Rob Burch into a low stop to his right. But, the goalkeeper wasn't able to keep out the giant full-back's next header, aimed towards the bottom corner from Craig Noone's in-swinging free kick, as Plymouth went ahead inside four minutes.

It took only three minutes for Notts to level the game, though, following some great control and a strike by Alan Judge, who looked eager to impress against his former club. His effort cannoned back off the foot of the post but Hughes reacted sharply to slot home the rebound for his fifth goal in his last five appearances.

Both teams could have grabbed another in a lively start at Home Park. 12-goal frontman Bradley Wright-Phillips' side-volley was palmed away by Burch and David Button in the home goal was required to gather low inside his six-yard box from Mike Edwards' firm header.

Burch was called into action with another fine stop, this time from Rory Patterson's direct free kick. The forward's shot skidded low towards the bottom corner but Burch watched closely and fisted the ball away.

Seconds later, Joe Mason turned his marker inside out and rattled the post with a strong hit from 12 yards out. Noone also came close from a dead ball situation, narrowly clearing the top corner from the corner of the box.

Despite the hosts finishing the opening 45 strongly, it was Notts that looked brighter after the break. Within 10 minutes of the restart, Miller tested Button from range after controlling a long ball with his chest, and Krystian Pearce had a thumping header deflected narrowly off target.

Craig Westcarr was replaced by Ince on 64 minutes and the newly introduced winger almost made an immediate impact. Judge, bursting down the left flank, cut the ball across goal, only for it to loop into the air, leading to Ince volleying agonisingly over.

Judge then had a pop himself from range, which Button spilled. Hughes looked to take advantage again but he was ruled offside as placed wide of goal.

The game had been sparked into life again and it was the Pilgrims that were next to threaten through Wright-Phillips. Played in on goal by substitute Yala Bolasie's intricate through-pass, he only had Burch to beat but the stopper stood up well to deny him.

At the other end, Ince was causing the home defence a few problems and with a tricky surge into the box, he tested Button with a low attempt. In an exciting end-to-end close to the contest, it appeared that maximum points could go either way.

And, it nearly went Notts' way from a Davies' free kick on the wing, when Ince and Neal Bishop both had efforts blocked. However, Bishop found himself in the book before the final whistle, as he his deliberate foul halted a late breakaway.

Considering Notts had won just once away from Meadow Lane, the draw appeared a good result. However, a trip to lowly Walsall awaits on New Year's Day - a fixture that the Magpies will be eager to take maximum points from.

Attendance: 9,822 (163 Notts County supporters)

Man of the Match: Rob Burch

    Data provided by Press Association


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