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17:04 31st March 2012

Sheehan Wins It Late On

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Alan Sheehan stole three points for Notts County against Oldham Athletic with a last-gasp wonder-goal.

An impressive first half performance by visiting goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis prevented Notts from going into the interval ahead. Alan Sheehan and Daniel Bogdanovic produced the pick of County's efforts on goal but Bouzanis was determined to hold on for a clean sheet.

Chris Taylor had the best of Oldham's attempts and rattled the frame of the goal with a long-range hit. However, the game remained goalless at half time.

A quiet second half was brought to life late on, when Sheehan finally beat Bouzanis with a superb finish. The win kept County in the Play-Off hunt and the late goal could prove to be vital on May 5.

With Carlisle United winning one of their games in hand, a four-point gap had been opened up between Notts and sixth place. Only seven matches remained in the Magpies' Play-Offs push, meaning every point was valuable.

Despite dominating the game against Scunthorpe United seven days prior, County had to settle for a point. Impressed by the performance on that day, Keith Curle stuck with the same starting 11.

Notts nearly took an early lead when Alan Judge drilled a low, diagonal cross into the box from the left flank. The away backline had not expected the delivery and Lee Hughes would have capitalised had he managed to reach the ball.

Oldham carved out the better of the opportunities during the opening 10 minutes and should have punished the Magpies on more than one occasion. The first of their chances came in the fifth minute, when Robbie Simpson connected with Taylor's corner, only to find the arms of Stuart Nelson.

Taylor then found himself in a goal-scoring situation, following an intelligent flick-on by imposing frontman Shefki Kuqi, but his touch let him down, allowing Nelson to smother at his feet. Taylor threatened again with a hopeful hit from the left that saw the ball swerve awkwardly and forced Nelson to tip behind.

On 16, Sheehan exchanged possession with Jeff Hughes as part of a rehearsed corner routine. This allowed Sheehan to drive low at goal through a crowd of players, forcing Bouzanis into a reaction block.

Bouzanis was in fine form and made an even better save to deny Bogdanovic a goal on his home debut. Judge had picked out the striker with a floated back-post cross, though the resulting header was acrobatically turned over.

The chances continued to flow for Notts, as they upped the tempo and gained a territorial advantage. Jeff Hughes hit the post during a goalmouth scramble and Lee Hughes was prevented from adding a finishing touch to Lloyd Sam's low centre by Jean Yves M'Voto, who made a vital challenge at the near post.

Taylor certainly looked the Latics' most dangerous player and he almost gave his side the lead with a spectacular effort. From 25 yards, he fired towards the top-left corner but was denied by the post.

A well-placed header by Lee Hughes enabled the Magpies another attempt at goal. Collecting the ball at the edge of the area, Bogdanovic was unable to get a shot away and set up Sheehan, whose driven finish was gathered confidently by Bouzanis.

The second period started at a slower pace than the first, with Taylor providing the only serious attempt at goal - a 25-yard punt that cleared the bar. Notts had to wait until the 58th minute to cause the Athletic defence any concerns, with Judge's curved centre just evading Lee Hughes.

In an attempt to give the Magpies more offensive threat, Hamza Bencherif was introduced in the place of Nico Yennaris. Moments after the change, Jeff Hughes almost found the top-right corner with a looping header from Liam Chilvers' lofted delivery.

Rounding off a neat attacking move down the right, Judge later found Lee Hughes with a delightful back-post cross, which the striker directed towards the corner. Diving to his right, Bouzanis made the save, and the linesman and the referee ignored protests that the ball had crossed the line.

As Notts continued their search for an opener, Bogdanovic glanced wide and Judge had a shot from distance deflected into the goalkeeper's arms. Still, chances had been limited at both ends and a draw appeared likely.

This prompted further changes by Curle, with the hope of claiming a victory. Judge and Bogdanovic left the pitch, with Gavin Mahon and Julian Kelly introduced.

In fact, it could have been Oldham that stole all three points, when, in the 87th minute, substitute Filipe Morais found Kuqi with a deft lay-off. Kuqi unleashed a stunning strike from 20 yards that rocketed inches past the post.

The match-winner title was to be saved for Sheehan. With only a minute to spare, Sam worked his way into the box and rolled the ball to the left-back, who rifled past Bouzanis, into the net off the underside of the bar.

Supporters leapt off their seats to celebrate a tremendous strike but their team had four minutes of added time to survive. Throwing men behind the ball, County held on and stayed four points adrift of Carlisle, who had beaten Huddersfield Town 2-1.

Attendance: 6,326 (326 away supporters)

Man of the Match, sponsored by Chino Latino: Alan Sheehan

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    Data provided by Press Association


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