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16:56 21st January 2012

Late Point

Jeff Hughes' late spot-kick secured a deserved point for Notts County against Milton Keynes Dons.

In a first half where the Magpies threatened more frequently, it was the hosts that took the lead. Centre-back Tom Flanagan was the man to find the net, with a well-placed overhead finish.

The second half saw Notts take the game to the visitors in search of an equaliser. Despite coming close from numerous chances, they had to wait until the 81st minute, when Jeff Hughes found the bottom corner from the penalty spot to secure a point.

Martin Allen made two alterations from the side that was defeated away at Bournemouth the previous weekend, with Krystian Pearce and Gavin Mahon replacing Liam Chilvers and Karl Hawley. This saw the Magpies switch to an attacking 4-5-1 formation that was spearheaded by Lee Hughes.

Jeff Hughes picked out the frontman in the fifth minute with a delightful overhead through-pass, only for Flanagan to barge him off the ball before he could get a shot away. In a quick response for MK Dons, Dean Lewington found the feet of Charlie MacDonald, whose gentle lay-off allowed Jabo Ibehre to fire inches past the top-right corner.

This was the start of a lively period in the game and Jeff Hughes, making his presence known again, flicked the ball over Adam Smith's head on multiple occasions at the by-line, subsequent to delivering a floated centre that was slightly too high for Lee Hughes. Shortly after, a short free-kick by Jon Harley gave Neal Bishop some space to get a shot away but the County skipper's curved effort grazed the roof of the net.

A lofted pass towards Lee Hughes from Mahon created the Magpies' next opening. The striker's first touch into the box found Jeff Hughes, whose first-time hit was prevented from finding the bottom corner by away stopper David Martin.

On 15 minutes, an even better save was produced by Stuart Nelson. MacDonald had been threaded in on goal but his low shot from the edge of the area was tipped around the post by the goalkeeper at full stretch.

The first goal of the match came in the 27th minute, when Notts failed to clear Gleeson's corner. Eventually, the ball bounced in the direction of Flanagan and the defender found the top-left corner with an overhead volley.

Notts looked to draw level straight away and created a host of good openings. The first of these came via Alan Judge's whipped delivery from deep that Hamza Bencherif glanced into the arms of Martin.

Jeff Hughes later directed a high ball into the path of Bishop but the midfielder's stern hit was well blocked by the goal-scorer, Flanagan. From Judge's resulting near-post corner, Hughes and Bencherif added headed flick-ons but the ball bounced agonisingly wide.

The Dons almost doubled their lead within minutes of the restart, after Mahon tripped Luke Chadwick on the edge of the area. Dean Lewington's curled free-kick was parried by Nelson and Mathias Kouo-Doumbe headed over on the rebound.

At the other end, Bishop lifted a pass over the Dons' backline to find Lee Hughes. Hughes steadied himself and rifled towards the bottom-left corner but Martin somehow reacted to deny him.

Allen made two attacking substitutions nine minutes into the second period, with Ben Burgess and Ishmel Demontagnac replacing Jon Harley and Mahon. And, within seconds of the change, Notts almost levelled, when Pearce connected with Kieron Freeman's swinging cross to head off target.

Attentions were turned to the touchline, following a foul on Judge, where there had been an incident involving both benches. Dons coach John Gorman and Notts boss Allen were both sent to the stands.

This only lifted the home crowd and Judge tested Martin with a powerful hit from a tight angle, raising the roof even more. Martin then had to make a save on his line from Bencherif's stunning strike from range.

Judge forced Martin into a remarkable stop on 63 minutes, as he watched his forceful hit from the corner of the 18-yard box acrobatically tipped away. Pearce also glanced past the post from Jeff Hughes' in-swinging corner.

Burgess combined with his strike partner, Lee Hughes, twice in quick succession, as the Magpies kept up the pressure. The first saw Hughes fire narrowly wide and the second led to the forward teeing up Judge to blast inches past the upright.

County finally had their breakthrough on 81, when Judge's long-range attempt hit the arm of Doumbe. For the seventh time this season, Jeff Hughes made it count by driving into the bottom-right corner.

With the momentum behind the Magpies, it seemed that there would only be one winner, though the Dons made it tough by maintaining an organised unit. Notts will take plenty of positives from a clash with one of the division's in-form teams into the Meadow Lane meeting with Preston on Tuesday night.

Attendance: 6,123 (396 away supporters)

Man of the Match, sponsored by Chino Latino: Jeff Hughes

Chino Latino

    Data provided by Press Association


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