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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
21:57 16th August 2011

Late Hughes Penalty Secures The Points

Match Sponsored By:
Fraser Brown

A last-gasp winner from Jeff Hughes gave Notts County three points, rounding off a thrilling 3-2 triumph over Tranmere Rovers.

John Welsh's 10th minute finish put Tranmere ahead and despite carving out a numerous first half chances, Notts went in at the break a goal down. The second period started much better for County and Julian Kelly got his side back on level terms with a thunderous volley.

Krystian Pearce then put the Magpies in front with a well-placed header. Substitute Joss Labadie made it 2-2 against the run of play, when his free kick deflected into the bottom corner.

Six minutes of injury time produced plenty of action, including two red cards for Rovers - David Raven and Adam McGurk. The second was for handball on the goal line, which allowed Jeff Hughes to net the winner from the spot.

Following an encouraging second half performance against Charlton the Saturday prior, Notts were looking to pick up where they left off into the Rovers clash. The visitors had started the season well, having recorded maximum points in their first two league games, and looked set to provide a stern test.

Martin Allen made two changes to his side, handing Lee Hughes and weekend goal-scorer Cristian Montano starts. Hamza Bencherif dropped out of the squad and Karl Hawley was listed on the substitutes' bench.

The Magpies opened brightly, taking the game to Tranmere with some tidy attacking football. The first chance came from Alan Sheehan's delivery on the right, which was met by a Lee Hughes back-heel and forced Owain Fon Williams to scurry across his goal line to gather.

Jeff Hughes created County's next opening, when he toyed with the Tranmere full-back, before firing in a right-footed cross. Montano controlled and volleyed powerfully towards the bottom corner and Fon Williams had to reach out to parry clear.

Adam McGurk was first to threaten for the visitors, following a clever lay-off by Enoch Showunmi. The forward proceeded to bend towards the top corner, only for Stuart Nelson to palm behind.

From the subsequent corner, Andy Robinson curled low towards the penalty spot in what was a well-rehearsed set-play. Welsh's run met the delivery perfectly and he stroked accurately into the top corner.

Notts could have been on level terms within minutes, when Craig Westcarr skimmed the foot of the post with a free kick. Montano then forced another top save out of Fon Williams, with a low hit from Jeff Hughes' grounded centre.

The Magpies were forced into an early substitute, when Ricky Ravenhill collided with Martin Devaney. Ravenhill appeared to have taken a strong knock to the head, leading him to be stretchered off and replaced by Alan Judge.

Devaney could have seen red for a challenge on Judge, who was making his first appearance of the season following his recovery from a hamstring injury. However, Devaney was cautioned, much to the anger of the home faithful.

As the half crept into five minutes of added time, Jeff Hughes came close to levelling but his stern strike deflected narrowly wide, into the side netting. Montano also directed over, after Judge had picked him out with a bouncing centre.

A surging run forward by Montano allowed Westcarr room to shoot, as Notts searched for an equaliser early into the second half. The forward's left-footed attempt swerved inches past the foot of the post.

Sheehan almost forced an own goal with one of his trademark in-swinging deliveries. The ball skidded off a defender's head and Fon Williams only just managed to tip behind.

Fon Williams was always going to struggle to block the next strike at his goal, a stunning volley from Kelly. A cross had been headed clear by the Tranmere backline and the full-back connected with a hellacious volley, which flew unstoppably into the net from 20 yards out.

Rovers almost went ahead again shortly after, when McGurk rattled the post with a strong punt. The ball cannoned back and deflected out for a corner off the foot of Nelson.

On 60 minutes, County went ahead, with one of Sheehan's superb deliveries paying off. Pearce rose highest in a crowded six-yard box to head home, off the underside of the bar.

Nelson kept the score at 2-1 with a fine stop. Robbie Weir's shot from the corner of the box looked certain to find the bottom corner but the goalkeeper pushed away confidently.

Notts had a strong penalty call turned down on 75 minutes, when Montano connected well with Kelly's cross. Defender Michael Kay appeared to block with his arm and the home fans had to settle for a corner.

The crowd were growing frustrated with the referee, as several decisions went against Notts, and it was from one of those calls that Rovers made it 2-2. A free kick from 25 yards clipped off the wall and found its way into the corner, just out of Nelson's reach.

Six minutes of added time was shown by the fourth official and it was action packed. First David Raven was shown a second yellow card for a foul on the edge of the box and then McGurk was shown a straight red for handling on the line.

Jeff Hughes shouldered the responsibility of the spot-kick, a week after Notts had been knocked out of the Carling Cup in an emotional penalty shoot-out. But, it was a happier ending this time around, as Hughes sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and secured three points for his side.

Attendance: 4,953 (328 away supporters)

Man of the Match, sponsored by Chino Latino: Krystian Pearce

Chino Latino

    Data provided by Press Association

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