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15:49 24th September 2011

Unbeaten September

Match Sponsored By:
Vision Express

Notts County moved into the Play-Off places this afternoon with a 2-0 win against Rochdale at Meadow Lane.

In a first half with few openings, Notts went in at the break a goal to the good, courtesy of Lee Hughes' 35th minute strike. It was the forward's sixth competitive goal of the campaign and another excellent finish.

An industrious Ben Burgess came close to heading home a second, in addition to efforts from Lee Hughes and Cristian Montano. But, it was in stoppage time that the points were confirmed, when Sam Sodje powered a header into the top corner.

Notts made it 10 points from a possible 12 in September with a 2-0 win away at Stevenage the previous Saturday. A win or a draw against the Dale had the potential to lift the Magpies into the top six and would make it an unbeaten month.

Alan Sheehan returned to the starting 11 after missing the previous Saturday's match through suspension. Alan Judge was also handed a start in the place of Charlie Allen.

In a slow start to the match, Rochdale created the only goal-scoring chance on the counter, following claims for a foul on Alan Sheehan. With the backline stretched, David Ball played in Ashley Grimes, whose placed finish was kept out by Julian Kelly, who had retreated to the goal line to cover his goalkeeper.

On 14 minutes, Notts threatened for the first time, as Judge made space down the right. His floated cross was met strongly by Burgess at the back post but his header bounced wide of the target.

Moments later, Sheehan picked out Neal Bishop's advancing run from midfield. The Magpies' skipper touched into the direction of Lee Hughes, who drove wide from the edge of the box.

Bishop almost found the corner after charging down a clearance, which had been forced by Burgess' aerial presence in attack. At the other end, a collision between the visitors' two frontmen, Grimes and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, presented Ball with an opening but Julian Kelly was at hand to produce an excellent sliding block.

On 35 minutes, Notts' two strikers combined more effectively, with Burgess nodding a targeted long ball into the path of Lee Hughes. Hughes cut inside his marker, Neal Trotman, with some neat footwork and proceeded to curl into the bottom corner with his left foot to make it 1-0.

Lee Hughes

Lee Hughes

Midfielder Gary Jones could have equalised on the stroke of half time. The away captain had space to volley and although he connected cleanly, the ball flew past the post.

The Magpies came out for the second half looking the sharper of the two sides and could have doubled the lead, after excellent movement from Bishop allowed him room to find Lee Hughes with a reverse pass. Hughes aimed for the corner with a looped effort, though he was unable to hit the target.

Burgess picked up where he left off in the first period and continued to hassle the Rochdale rearguard. Winning another header, this time on the left flank, he picked out Sheehan but the full-back's volley was sliced harmlessly into goalkeeper Jake Kean's arms.

Rochdale were by no means out of the game and Mike Edwards had to stick out a leg to block substitute Nicky Adam's hit, following a mazy run from the right. Grimes also came close, when he cleared the top corner with a strike from range.

However, County maintained the upper hand, with Burgess almost latching onto Kelly's back-post cross. Lee Hughes then had prodded attempt, set up by Sheehan's low centre, blocked by Trotman inside the six-yard box.

Montano replaced Burgess up front in the 67th minute. Burgess had put in a hard-working shift and received a standing ovation from the home fans as he made his way over to the dugout.

Montano almost made an immediate impact with a searching cross from the left, which found Lee Hughes on the edge of the area. Hughes quickly threaded in Judge but the midfielder was unable to get a shot away, as Kean rushed out to grasp the ball with a brave save.

Lee Hughes was replaced by Karl Hawley, before an injured Judge made way for Sam Sodje. Sodje, usually a defender lined up in attack but later moved to a holding midfield role, helping to preserve Notts' lead.

Montano thought he'd secured the points in the 90th minute with a thunderous drive that grazed the bar. Moments later, five minutes of added time was shown, setting up a nervy close to the match.

Any fears of a late leveller were put to bed deep into added time, when Sodje rose high to send Sheehan's in-swinging free kick into the top corner with a thumping header. This rounded off another solid performance by the Magpies and secured a fourth win in five outings.

Attendance: 6,199 (276 away supporters)

Man of the Match, sponsored by Chino Latino: Julian Kelly

Chino Latino

    Data provided by Press Association


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