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16:53 22nd January 2011

Zoko Ends Run

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Francois Zoko's winner ended Notts County's extended run of form in a 1-0 loss to Carlisle United.

Both outfits had superb chances to take the lead in the first half. Alan Gow fired narrowly wide and Zoko had an effort cleared off the line in the opening 45's best attempts.

Zoko didn't miss on 55 minutes, though, as he found the net with a smart finish. Notts had opportunities to draw level but failed to make the most of them.

Through all the focus on the FA Cup, it was the league that really mattered to Manager Paul Ince and the Magpies were fully focused on taking three points. The Cumbrians had recorded back-to-back 4-0 victories and were brimming with confidence heading into the match but Notts were looking to extend their unbeaten run to nine games.

John Spicer was handed his first start since the 3-1 loss to Exeter, as he took up a spot on the right wing. Gow kept his place up front to make his home debut but Lee Hughes wasn't included, due to a calf injury.

A minute's applause was held prior to kick-off, as a mark of respect to former midfielder Richard Butcher. Butcher sadly passed away earlier this month, aged just 29.

Gow looked sharp in the early stages and played a key part in a couple of early offenses, including a tidy move down the left flank, where he linked up with Judge to play in Craig Westcarr, only the forward was flagged offside. He also swung a troublesome corner towards the back post, which Neal Bishop nodded wide.

Carlisle had the better of the early openings and could have gone in front on two occasions. Craig Curran, set free by a lucky deflection, dragged wide of the target and Lubomir Michalik failed to beat Stuart Nelson with his header, following a quick break down the right.

Adam Collin was the first goalkeeper to be really tested, with Gow, again, making his presence felt. Latching onto Westcarr's infield pass, he stung the palms of the away stopper from close range.

And, the forward thought he'd opened his County account on 34 minutes, after Westcarr's blocked shot fell into his path. Gow took a touch and slotted the ball towards the bottom corner, but his effort was inches to the wrong side of the upright.

In an equally good opportunity for the visitors, Zoko, the dangerman the teams' last meeting, escaped the Notts backline and proceeded to round Nelson. It looked as though his cool finish had put the Cumbrians ahead but Mike Edwards retreated to the goal line to deny him.

Following the interval, Gow came close to breaking the deadlock with an individual effort. Displaying great footwork, he glided into the box and forced Collin into a strong parry with a right-footed strike.

At the other end, Ricky Ravenhill produced a brave block to keep out Michalik's stern volley. However, on the rebound, Zoko squeezed the ball through a crowd of players to give the visitors the lead.

Westcarr nearly levelled the tie within minutes, when Alan Judge managed to find him with a chipped through-pass. The forward, under pressure from two defenders, hit low and hard but Collin collected with ease.

From the bench, Lewis Gobern looked tricky on the right wing and almost created an equaliser. Slipping between two markers, he floated a teasing ball across goal, narrowly evading the back post.

Ravenhill also thought he'd added his name to the scoresheet on 75 minutes, when he popped up in a crowded penalty area to produce powerful strike. Collin had to react instantly to push the ball clear with an acrobatic save.

Gow seemed destined to grab a goal and as the fixture drew to a close, he almost latched onto Jon Harley's driven cross. He also forced Collin into another fine stop with a grounded punt but the Magpies were left frustrated.


Attendance: 6,327 (525 Carlisle United supporters)

Premier Electrical Man of the Match: Alan Gow

    Data provided by Press Association


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