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Notts County were punished for not making the most of their first half chances this afternoon in a 2-0 loss against Sheffield Wednesday.
The atmosphere oozed that of a local derby ahead of kick-off, the away stand packed out with over 4,000 vocal Owls' fans and the crammed Kop in fine voice, accompanied by the rhythmic beat of the drum. This was a fixture that many had been eagerly anticipating and it was evident throughout a buzzing Meadow Lane Stadium.
Home supporters were further boosted by the return of last season's top-marksman, Lee Hughes. He was accompanied in the starting line-up by John Spicer and Kevin Smith, who came into the side to fill the gaps left by Ricky Ravenhill (suspension) and Craig Westcarr (injury) respectively.
Notts came out the traps early and could have gone in front twice inside the first two minutes. Hughes stung the palms of Weaver with a powerful effort, after Neal Bishop had played him into the channel, and Kevin Smith fired across the face of goal, narrowly evading his strike partner at the back post.
Craig Short's team continued to dominate and looked dangerous with every forward move. And Davies was next to come close, when he struck wide from Smith's neat back heel.
Alan Judge's energy was causing problems and his interception gave Davies another opportunity, only this time Giles Coke blocked bravely. Seconds later, John Spicer had visiting goalkeeper Nicky Weaver panicking with a bouncing hit that deflected inches past the post.
Moving into the final 15 minutes of the half, Wednesday started to come into the game a little more and former Magpie Paul Heffernan found himself with two half-chances - both from the crosses of attacking full-back Tommy Spurr. With the first, he was unable to connect sufficiently with his head but he tested Burch with the second, a hooked volley from eight yards out.
Heffernan was in the thick of it again for the visitor's next attempt, laying the ball into the path of Marcus Tudgay. Tudgay's shot from range flew just wide, helped on its way by the Spicer's block.
Just before the half time whistle, Spicer almost found the net at the other end. Racing onto Davies' knockdown, he stretched to prod directly at Weaver.
In contrast to the first 45, the Owls opened very well and went in front after just seven minutes of the restart. Gathering a clearance, Tudgay wasted no time in lashing the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box, giving Burch absolutely no chance.
County fans thought their team were back on level terms a minute later, when Hughes nodded home from Smith's header across goal. However, celebrations were cut short by the linesman's flag.
If anything, Notts were lifted by the concession and were back on top. Another opening followed, this time for Judge, as Davies threaded him in, but the outstretched leg of retreating defender Mark Beevers denied him.
Wednesday were eager to add a second and were not afraid of throwing men forward. Coke's determination gave substitute Neil Mellor time to strike inside the area but he dragged his shot well wide of the target.
Notts were huffing and puffing to little avail. In an attempt to create more, Short introduced Karl Hawley and Luke Rodgers.
However, the likelihood of pulling a goal back grew less likely when Judge was shown a straight red card. After being held by his marker, the lively winger kicked out in frustration and the Magpies were down to 10-men for the fourth match running.
Six minutes of added time was shown and Notts piled even players forward - centre-back Krystian Parce even moving into attack in one last throw of the dice. The shortage of numbers at the back led to a second for Wednesday, Darren Potter hooking into the bottom corner for the final goal of the game.
The loss brings Notts' run of home wins to a halt. A tough trip north to Carlisle awaits next weekend, where they will look to get back to winning ways.
Attendance: 11,355 (4,160 Sheffield Wednesday supporters)
Co-operative Motor Group Man of the Match: Neal Bishop