Match Sponsored By:
Jonathan Forte's 80th minute finish made it back-to-back wins for Notts County against Chesterfield this afternoon.
Lee Hughes, Jeff Hughes and Cristian Montano all came close to breaking the deadlock for Notts County in the first half but the game was goalless at the break. In a nervy second 45, both teams could have taken all three points but it was substitute Forte with the decisive strike, 10 minutes from time.
Keith Curle got off to the best possible start as the Magpies new boss in the Wendesday night fixture with Stevenage but opted to make four changes to the starting 11. Mike Edwards, Hamza Bencherif, Liam Chilvers and Montano all came into the side at the expense of Krystian Pearce, Gavin Mahon, Damion Stewart and Forte.
Their opponents had not played in midweek and the alterations gave Notts fresh legs for the local derby. It looked set to be a tasty affair, as both sets of supporters raised the volume in the build-up to kick-off.
Shortly before the first whistle, a late alteration was made to the County line-up, after Alan Sheehan picked up an injury during the warm-up. Jon Harley was given a late call-up and filled in at left-back.
Notts started the better of the teams but had to avoid an early scare when former Magpie Craig Westcarr's second-minute cross appeared set to find Jack Lester at the back post. Judging an awkward bounce well, Kieron Freeman was able to flick clear with a smart header.
The on-loan Forest full-back then made an impact at the other end with a well-placed diagonal delivery into the box. Bencherif climbed high to nod across the face of goal towards Lee Hughes, whose close-range effort, at full stretch, was directed narrowly over.
As the game progressed, Montano became increasingly involved and, on 20 minutes, his piercing run through the centre created the Magpies' next opening. Lee Hughes was fed possession on the left and his cross-come-shot found Jeff Hughes, who forced a double save from Spireites stopper Tommy Lee.
Montano was involved again, when Alan Judge met his run offensive with a delightful overhead through-pass. From an acute angle, the forward's stinging effort required Lee to tip behind at his near post.
The second part of the first half provided little in terms of goalmouth action but Lee had to remain alert when Judge picked out Lee Hughes with a clever chip during two minutes of stoppage time. The goalkeeper raced quickly off his line to punch the ball away from the foot of the striker, as he prepared to volley at goal.
Both stoppers had to be at their best in the opening stages of the second half. First to be tested was Lee, who parried Judge's strong hit behind for a corner, following an opportunistic break down the left involving Harley and Lee Hughes.
On a counter attack started by Westcarr, Notts were stretched and Stuart Nelson had to produce a one-on-one save down to his left to keep out substitute Jordan Bowery. Nelson then pounced on the loose ball to prevent Westcarr from adding a finishing touch.
Chesterfield experienced a spell of dominance after the opportunity and Jamie Lowry almost found the bottom-right corner with shot 20 yards out. Harley later had to throw his body on the line to block Westcarr's effort, as Notts struggled to clear.
Notts always looked a threat but they failed to find the final ball on numerous occasions. However, Freeman's diagonal delivery from deep was set to find second half substitute Forte, only for Lee to touch away from him at full reach.
For large periods of the second half both outfits struggled to settle in possession. To counter this on Notts' part, Curle introduced Mahon in place of Bencherif.
The visitors stretched the County backline on 76 minutes and Jack Lester unleashed a stern strike with the outside of his boot that Nelson pushed away with a diving, reaction save. The keeper rushed to his feet and made himself as big as possible to thwart the rebounds in a short-lived goalmouth scramble.
Nelson's save proved to be vitally important, as his side took the lead in the 80th minute. Mahon's forward pass made its way through to Forte, who slotted calmly into the bottom-left corner, out of Lee's reach.
The goal had followed the introduction of Ben Burgess for Lee Hughes and the sub nearly made it 2-0 on 81. From Forte's low centre, the Burgess fired inches over on the turn.
Man of the Match Judge also came close, agonisingly so, when he rattled the crossbar with a stunning left-foot drive. It had become an all too frequent occurrence and it was believed to be the ninth time that he had rattled the woodwork in 2011/12.
The Magpies had a late scare when Lowry picked out the imposing figure of Neal Trotman with a floated cross. The defender nodded across goal but Freeman eradicated the danger by hacking clear, at the same time ensuring that Notts took all three points for the second time in four days.
Attendance: 8,257 (1,616 away supporters)
Man of the Match, sponsored by Chino Latino: Alan Judge