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20:40 24th August 2010

Notts Hold On For Cup Upset

Notts County dumped Championship Watford out of the Carling Cup this evening in a committed performance at Vicarage Road.

With a number of niggles, Craig Short orchestrated a number of changes to his starting line-up. Six players came into the side, including debutant winger Luke Hubbins, who joined the club on loan from Birmingham City last week.

Watford opened at a high tempo, knitting together a number of incisive passing moves. And they might have gone in front within five minutes when Marvin Sordell saw his powerful diving header denied by the post.

Just seconds later, Chilvers' pass from the back was cut out, leading to Will Buckley being presented with space 25 yards out. Turning quickly, he aimed towards the top corner but Stuart Nelson reached out to flick over.

Nelson was called into action once again on eight minutes, following a smart run into the box by Sordell. Opening up his body, he forced the Notts' stopper to palm behind with a reaction save.

Despite the early pressure, Notts held on and could have gone in front when Kevin Smith was bundled to the ground on the left wing. Ben Davies whipped in a troublesome free-kick, which the home goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin spilled, only the ball was hacked clear before Jake Jervis could pounce.

The best chance of the opening stages undeniably fell to Sordell, when he beat the offside trap with another perfectly timed run. Skipping past the outrushing Nelson he looked certain to put Watford in front but John Thompson cleared the danger with a last-gasp lunge at the striker's feet as he prepared to slide the ball into an empty net.

Watford continued to push forward, maintaining a high line, though Notts almost took advantage in a speedy counter attack. Smith flicked to Jervis, who then fed Davies into the box, but the winger was unable to beat Gilmartin with his stern strike.

The hosts nearly nudged themselves ahead on the stroke of half time from a rehearsed corner that left Stephen McGinn with plenty of space to shoot, but Thompson threw his body on the line with another heroic block. The rebound also fell to McGinn but the legs of Nelson blocked his second effort.

Such brave defensive heroics were made worthwhile within moments of the restart, when Jervis was fouled 10 yards outside the Hornets' area. Davies stepped up confidently and bent around the wall and into the bottom corner, beyond the stretching Gilmartin.

Notts certainly looked much more confident after the break, taking up much more of the possession. At the back, less appeared to be getting through, with only Adrian Mariappa threatening from a corner in the opening 20 minutes of the half.

This was further demonstrated when the home side were forced into shooting from range. Almost catching out Nelson with a wild hit, Notts' number 17 blocked and gathered on the second attempt.

But it was County that struck next, this time through Kevin Smith - sending the visiting fans into hysterics. Fresh off the bench, Craig Westcarr toyed with his marker on the left flank and teed up Smith at the back post for a cool headed finish with a delightful floated delivery.

This came on 67 minutes, meaning that there was still plenty of time for a fight back from the Championship side. 13 minutes later, Troy Deeney converted a Danny Graham centre with a close-range downward header, putting them very much back in the game.

Graham, Watford's top-scorer, had come off the bench to get them back in the game and he almost levelled the scores. Drifting inside from the right, he fired fiercely at goal but Nelson smothered well on his goal line.

Davies struck just wide from another promising set-piece position but his team were given a scare as the game approached added time. From a long throw, the Notts defence struggled to clear and Graham somehow missed the target, despite having plenty of time to compose himself.

Sheer determination carried Notts through a nervy five minutes of stoppage time, not one player relenting in closing down offences. It's back-to-back wins for the Magpies now and a win on Saturday away at Bournemouth would complement that nicely.

Magpie Player Man of the Match: John Thompson
Attendance: 6,434 (249 Notts County supporters)

    Data provided by Press Association


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