Notts County 0-3 Huddersfield Town
Attendance: 10,342 (3,161 Huddersfield Town supporters)
Notts County were beaten 3-0 by Huddersfield Town at Meadow Lane this afternoon.
A deafening collaboration of enthusiastic chanting and cheering from both sets of fans welcomed the teams onto the pitch for Notts' return to League 1. Over 3,000 optimistic supporters made the trip from Yorkshire, giving the vocal Kop plenty of competition.
It became almost immediately clear that the Magpies had stepped up a division, with the Terriers posing a dangerous attacking threat. On six minutes, a smart flick-on by on-loan Forest forward Joe Garner had Jordan Rhodes chasing but Rob Burch rushed off his line to block at his feet.
Burch had to remain alert and was forced to claim well low down from a long-range Gary Roberts punt. The denied wideman had moments earlier fired over from a free-kick on the edge of the area.
But, it was the chance that fell to Garner on 25 minutes that should have broken the deadlock, when a swift counter attack down the left saw the ball switched across the retreating Notts defenders. The final pass from Rhodes sent Garner clean through but, utilising the outside of the boot, he swerved wide.
A goal looked to be coming and it finally did when the ball broke for Anthony Pilkington on the right side of the area. Steadying himself as he progressed towards goal, he struck ferociously into the roof of the net from an acute angle to send his side into the lead.
The lead was doubled shortly after, following a sharp, low centre from Garner on the right flank. Getting ahead of his marker inside the six-yard box, Rhodes connected to direct the ball past Burch with an outstretched toe, before racing to celebrate with the travelling Terriers.
It was certainly a frustrating half for Craig Short's men, who, as well as the home crowd, were becoming aggrieved by a number of refereeing decisions. Still, they continued to work hard and could have grabbed one back when Jon Harley's shot from distance almost caught out visiting stopper Alex Smithies.
This appeared to lift Notts and they were unfortunate not to find the net when Ben Burgess nodded down for Liam Chilvers to crash a volley at goal. His strike was charged down by a wall of committed red and black shirts.
An early goal was needed for Notts to get back into the game and a delightful switch of play by Harley almost did that. Lee Hughes had room for manoeuvre and executed a grounded cross that was hacked away on the goal line with Ben Davies lurking.
Notts were looking much more involved, though it was the second Huddersfield goal scorer Rhodes that came close next. A Pilkington cross was fizzed towards the near post but Rhodes failed to hit the target.
Craig Wescarr's introduction lifted County further and he almost set up Hughes for a header within seconds. Moments later, Hughes bent narrowly past the top-right corner from the corner of the box.
Garner came one step closer at the other end with a stunning effort that rattled the bar. Rhodes then had Burch retreating with another attempt that rustled the top of the net.
Jake Jervis, on-loan from Birmingham, came on for Burgess as Notts looked for a different option up top. With his first touches, Jervis cut back led to Davies slamming inches wide.
All hope of a comeback was washed away by Pilkington's second on 72 minutes. A well worked free-kick from the right saw the ball played across the edge of the box for Pilkington to strike against Bishop and then, from the rebound, drill into the top corner.
Notts continued to battle until the end and might have grabbed a consolation, with Bishop and Hughes both firing over in the dying stages. The trip to Plymouth in the Carling Cup on Tuesday will certainly be another stern test after they overcame Southampton 1-0.
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