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21:48 6th March 2012

Denied At The Death

Notts County were denied three points deep into second-half stoppage time in a 1-1 draw with Tranmere Rovers.

Damion Stewart got the Magpies off to the best possible start, when he found the bottom corner with a well-taken volley. Notts could have been three up by the break, had it not been for home goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams, who produced strong saves to deny Jonathan Forte and Jon Harley.

Lucas Akins had chances to level either side of half time but was twice kept out by Stuart Nelson in the County goal. Further attempts from Danny Holmes and John Welsh followed, but it looked as though the Magpies were going to hold out.

However, during five minutes of added time, Welsh headed home to snatch a late point. It was an end to Keith Curle's 100 per cent record but Notts remained in the Play-Off places, a point clear of seventh.

Despite keeping a clean sheet in the weekend win over Carlisle United, Curle named a completely new-look backline, consisting of Julian Kelly, Krystian Pearce, Damion Stewart and Harley. Kieron Freeman had featured at right-back against the Cumbrians but took up a more advanced role on the right side of a midfield four in the place of Alan Judge, who watched on from the stands, along with Cristian Montano and Alan Sheehan.

Curle's team selections had varied in every game to give each of his players the chance to express themselves and show what they could do. This was certainly the case again, as his team looked for a fifth consecutive victory against a Tranmere outfit with a new manager of their own, Ronnie Moore.

Moore's buoyant welcome was temporarily silenced when Notts took the lead inside the fifth minute through Stewart. The defender met Harley's back-post corner with a composed volley into the bottom-right corner from four yards out.

Damion Stewart and Krystian Pearce

Forte nearly doubled the Magpies' lead on 12, after Ben Burgess met his run with a wonderful, first time pass. Forte continued his run and drove low towards the bottom corner, only to be denied by Fon Williams' low parry.

Nelson was tested for the first time moments later, when, under heavy pressure from Akins, he was forced to punch clear inside his six-yard box. The provider of the cross, left-winger Andy Robinson, then teed up James Wallace, whose 25-yard hit swerved inches past the post.

Ben Burgess

Nelson's opposite number, Fon Williams, was certainly the busier during the opening the 45 and was called into action once more, this time by Harley. From the corner of the box, the left-back drove towards the bottom-right corner but was prevented from finding it by the home stopper's finger-tips.

Tranmere had a fine opportunity to go in at the break on level terms, when a mishit shot made its way to Ian Goodison but Nelson blocked the defender's shot. Robbie Weir's hopeful attempt also provided a scare for County, as Akins directed narrowly off-target with a reaction header.

Rovers threatened within the first two minutes of the second period from another Robinson delivery. The 32-year-old's corner was met by Akins' downward header, which prompted a low stop by Nelson on his goal-line.

Jonathan Forte

County pushed forward in search of a second, with Freeman being denied a header from Forte's cross by a superb defensive header. Hamza Bencherif then had an effort deflected wide, prior to heading over from the resulting corner.

Freeman was involved again with half-an-hour remaining, when he glided past two players inside the area, before being tripped. The on-loan Forest youngster managed to stay on his feet but was unable to gain enough balance to make the final ball count, sparking heated protests for a penalty by the travelling support behind the goal.

As time ticked on, the hosts managed to press Notts back and, as a result of that dominance, almost leveled on two occasions. Goodison saw a header deflected wide and, from a short corner, Holmes grazed the upright with a stunning strike from range.

Next to have a go was the home skipper, Welsh, but his ambitious volley dipped onto the roof of the net. Substitute Joss Labadie thought he had won a late penalty as well but he was booked for diving instead.

Jonathan Forte

The closing stages were tense and Curle moved to a five-man midfield, replacing Forte with John Spicer, who made his first league appearance of the campaign. In spite of the tactical switch, Rovers drew level.

During stoppage time, Welsh rose high to connect with Holmes' corner. The midfielder powered a downward header past Nelson and was mobbed by his teammates, as the County players watched on, dejected, having dropped two points at the death.

Attendance: TBA

Man of the Match: Damion Stewart

Magpie Player

Magpie Player

    Data provided by Press Association


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