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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
16:59 7th May 2011

The Pies Are Staying Up

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Notts County avoided relegation with a 1-1 draw against the npower League 1 champions, Brighton & Hove Albion. Ashley Barnes gave Albion the lead on 12 minutes when he found the corner with a curved shot from distance. But, Notts got themselves back on level terms from Craig Westcarr's grounded cross, which caused visiting defender Gordon Greer to poke into his own net. The Magpies dominated much of the second half but both sides had chances to grab a winner. Sam Sodje was sent off late into the match for a second booking. At the final whistle, cheers of elation circulated the home ends and emotions spilled onto the pitch. Notts fans chanted in unison with the visitors in front of the Jimmy Sirrel Stand. A bumper crowd packed into Meadow Lane for the most important game of the season for the Magpies - one that would decide which division they'd be playing in next term. Only a win would guarantee Notts' place in League 1, as there were two other important clashes in the fight against the drop. Dagenham & Redbridge and Walsall, who could both leapfrog County on the day, were taking on high-flying Peterborough and Southampton respectively. However, Martin Allen was focusing on his own team's performance, rather than relying on others. An electric atmosphere welcomed the teams onto the field of play and the deafening singing, both in the boisterous Kop and the carnival-like away end, continued well into the fixture. For the crucial clash, Notts made three changes, with John Thompson, John Spicer and Lee Hughes coming into an attack-minded 4-4-2 formation. It was 10 minutes before either goalkeeper was tested, as Alan Judge strode into the final third for the Magpies. Casper Ankergren parried his low shot and Lee Hughes looked to pounce, only Greer hacked clear to deny the striker of an opener. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (11 minutes): Dagenham & Redbridge go 1-0 down against Peterborough, leaving them three points behind County. Two minutes after Judge's effort, the visitors went ahead through Barnes, who collected a loose ball halfway inside the Notts half. The in-form forward proceeded to bend powerfully into the right corner from 25 yards, just out of Stuart Nelson's reach. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (12 minutes): The Magpies' slipped back to two points above the drop zone, though Walsall, one place below them, were at this point on level points. Brighton almost doubled their lead a minute later, when Nelson pushed away Matt Sparrow's stern drive. Elliott Bennett looked certain to score on the rebound but Mike Edwards deflected his strike clear on the goal line with a brave block. It was by no means one-way traffic, though, with both sides looking dangerous in front of goal. Chris Wood's hit from range bounced wide of the bottom corner and Craig Westcarr's low shot rolled inches past the post. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (26 minutes): Walsall go 1-0 down away at Southampton, leaving all three relegation candidates as they were prior to kick-off. Krystian Pearce almost got Notts back on level terms from Neal Bishop's hooked centre. The defender, who had pushed forward for an offensive free kick, headed firmly at the near post but Ankergren gripped well. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (29 minutes): Southampton make it 2-0 at St Mary's. On 36 minutes, County grabbed an equaliser, courtesy of an own goal by Greer. Westcarr had fired in a low centre from the right, which the defender directed into his own net with an outstretched toe. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (36 minutes): Notts moved three points clear of Dagenham and two ahead of Walsall. The volume inside Meadow Lane was deafening and Notts upped the tempo in search of a second. Pearce came close with a glancing header and Judge's free kick narrowly evaded the top corner prior to the interval. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (45 minutes): Walsall pull one back against the Saints but the table remains the same. Straight from kick-off, the Magpies made their attacking intentions clear by charging forward instantly. Judge almost fed the ball to Hawley in the area but he was crowded out and Ankergren gathered. Bishop then came close moments later when the ball broke for him on the corner of the six-yard box. He lifted over Ankergren but he was unable to keep his effort floated across the face of goal. Westcarr presented Judge with an opportunity on 52 minutes, though the midfielder's drive skidded well wide. Spicer also threatened but his ambitious punt, which rounded off a quick passing move, ended up in the Kop. Notts were largely dominant, playing the ball around nicely; however, Albion almost caught them out on the break. Barnes looked set to get in behind the backline but Sam Sodje pulled off a superb last-ditch challenge and Nelson was able to smother. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (65 minutes): Peterborough go 2-0 up against the Daggers, giving John Still's men with 25 minutes to score three goals. Hughes and Spicer both fired over with hopeful volleys and Sodje worked the away stopper with a firm header. For the visitors, Bennett fired narrowly over, failing to test Robert Burch, who had replaced Nelson in goal. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (68 minutes): Saints add another against Walsall to make it 3-1. The fans continued in fine voice, greatly encouraged by the results elsewhere and their team's performance on the pitch. They also gave Hughes a standing ovation on 81 minutes when Njogu Demba-Nyren replaced him. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (82 minutes): Peterborough add a third against Dagenham. Youth Team midfielder George Nicholas - a late addition to the teamsheet - was then handed his professional debut, as Bishop received a rapturous reception. Mike Edwards took on the armband and the buzz continued to grow inside the stadium. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (84 minutes): 4-0 to Peterborough. During three minutes of added time, Sodje was given his marching orders following a second yellow card for double-footed challenge on Wood. Despite this, Notts were given a late chance to claim all three points, when Nicholas was sent tumbling. LIVE TABLE UPDATE (90 minutes): 5-0 to Peterborough. Westcarr fired towards the top corner from 25 yards but Ankergren somehow turned around the post with an acrobatic save. Regardless, County were safe and can look forward to another season in League 1. Attendance: 10,347 (2,432 Brighton supporters) Red Box Recorders' Man of the Match: Karl Hawley
    Data provided by Press Association

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