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15:58 30th April 2011

Down To The Last Game

Notts County sit only two points above the relegation zone heading into the final day of the season, following a 2-1 loss to Milton Keynes Dons.

The Magpies created the better of the chances in the opening 45. Both Alan Judge and Mike Edwards had opportunities to put County ahead but the teams went into half time on level terms.

Early into the second half, Sam Baldock put the home team ahead and Angelo Balanta added a second on 60 minutes. Karl Hawley made it 2-1 two minutes later with close-range finish but

Notts' final away game of the campaign gave them another chance to secure a place in League 1 for 2011/12, following the late concession against Brentford on the Monday, which denied Martin Allen's side all three points. A stern test awaited at stadiummk, with MK Dons aiming to finalise a spot in the Play-Offs ahead of the final day of the season.

Stephen Darby and Lee Hughes dropped to the bench, and Febian Brandy was missing through injury, as Allen made three changes to the starting 11 that faced the Bees. Sam Sodje, Craig Westcarr and Ben Burgess were named as their replacements in a 4-4-1-1 formation.

Judge, who was playing just behind Burgess, found himself with an early opening inside the box but his low shot was turned away by David Martin in the home goal. Dean Lewington gathered the ball inside the six-yard box and dithered in possession, before Neal Bishop's physical challenge almost resulted in an opener.

Apart from this early chance, little was being created in the final third at either end. The hosts were enjoying the majority of possession but their football was mainly being played on their own territory.

Baldock produced MK Dons' first effort of note when he dragged wide from outside the area on 19 minutes. Luke Chadwick also had a go from range but his shot found the visiting fans behind the goal.

For Notts, Sodje worked the goalkeeper with a looping header, after he latched onto Krystian Pearce's long free kick. Burgess then shinned wide from just inside the area, following Judge's delivery from the right.

The adaptable midfielder was causing problems with his crossing and he found Burgess again in Notts' next attacking move. Burgess nodded towards Hawley but he was unable to get a shot away due to the pressure from members of the Dons' rearguard.

On 40 minutes, the Dons were given an opportunity from a direct free kick, as a result of a foul by Sodje. Peter Leven bent around the wall and inches past the post.

County had a chance to go ahead themselves during three minutes of added time. Westcarr made space on the right and found Edwards with a floated centre, only he was unable to hit the target with his header.

After the break, the hosts started brightly and substitute Angelo Balanta almost made an immediate impact. His low strike skidded past the foot of the post but a goal wasn't far away.

Seven minutes into the second period, a diagonal delivery from deep evaded the County backline. Baldock raced onto the bouncing ball and sent it crashing into the roof of the net with a sliding finish.

Hawley almost levelled the scores instantly when he surged forward and tested Martin with a powerful effort. The forward came close again from a corner but Martin denied him once more with a low parry.

Moments later, the Dons doubled their lead, as the Magpies failed to defend a corner. Balanta took advantage and scrambled home from close-range.

County continued to fight and were back in the game on 62 minutes. The newly introduced Hughes headed towards goal from a corner and Hawley prodded over the line for his first goal in over a year.

After replacing Burgess, Njogu Demba-Nyren almost made it 2-2, when his improvised attempt from Judge's free kick looked set to find the top corner. However, Martin moved across his line quickly to punch away.

Daniel Powell and Balanta both drilled wide, and Nelson kept out Leven with a low stop, as the Dons searched for a third. But, it was Notts that needed the goal more, especially with the other results going against them.

In a late push, John Spicer replaced Judge and the Magpies pushed more bodies forward. During this late push, Westcarr almost escaped the backline thanks to his energy and, moments later, fired wide in another opening.

During five minutes of added time, Spicer thought he'd rescued a point but Martin kept out his stern drive with a low save. This was County's last chance of the match and they now face a crucial clash at Meadow Lane against Brighton, which could decide whether or not they are playing League 1 football next season.

Attendance: 10,031

Magpie Player Man of the Match: Sam Sodje

    Data provided by Press Association


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