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15:14 16th May 2012
By  Dane Vincent

Neal Bishop

Denied on goal difference...

A 4-1 victory over Colchester United was not enough to earn Notts County a place in the League 1 Play-Offs.

Jeff Hughes got the scoring underway with his 17th goal of the campaign. Daniel Bogdanovic then doubled Notts' lead in the 33rd minute with a well-placed header.

Alan Judge made it 3-0 ahead of the break with another wonder strike that took him to eight goals for the season. Kieron Freeman grabbed the last of the County goals with a superb finish that completed a fantastic passing move.

Anthony Wordsworth made it 4-1 late on with a consolation goal. It was an impressive performance by the Magpies but due to Stevenage beating Bury, they had to settle for seventh spot.

Keith Curle named an unchanged team for the biggest game of the season. Notts needed the best possible result to give them hope of snatching sixth spot away from Stevenage.

Heading into the match, the Magpies were on level points with Boro, who ranked higher in the table due to their superior goal difference. This left County needing to better their Play-Off rivals' result, as well as eighth-placed Carlisle United, to climb into the top six.

Notts almost got off to the perfect start, when Jeff Hughes was given time to turn into space. From range, the top-scorer rifled towards the bottom-right corner, only for the away stopper, Ben Williams, to guide the ball around the post with the finest of touches.

As a lively opening continued, Ian Henderson headed wide of the mark at the back post, though he may have found the net had Kieron Freeman not made his presence felt. Moments later, Daniel Bogdanovic broke free inside the area but was shielded away from goal by Magnus Okuonghae before he could get a shot away.

Jeff Hughes put the Magpies in front in the 23rd minute, when he nodded home Alan Sheehan's corner inside the six-yard box. Although delighted with the goal, it was a bittersweet moment for the home fans, as news had broken through that Stevenage were 1-0 up against Bury.

Stuart Nelson was called into action soon after the opener, tipping wide to prevent a cross from creeping inside the near post. The goalkeeper then kept out Tom Eastman's looping header with a composed save.

Chants of 'come on Bury' emanated from the Kop and, moments before County added a second, celebrations ensued, as rumours circulated that the Shakers had grabbed an equaliser at Broadhill Way. Unfortunately for Notts, it proved to be untrue, though there can be no doubt that the reaction inspired the goal.

Judge broke down the left flank to deliver a floated cross towards Bogdanovic, as the buoyant home crowd's excitement grew further. Bogdanovic, who had netted his first goal in the black and white stripes seven days earlier, met the delivery with a delightfully placed header over Williams.

On 41, Judge then added a goal of his own, producing an unstoppable finish into the top-left corner from 25 yards, just like he did on two occasions in last week's dramatic win over Wycombe Wanderers. Judge had been dubbed the 'Irish Messi' in a new line of t-shirts released in the Club Shop and, with three goals in two games, he was certainly living up to the moniker.

Messi's team, Barcelona, would have been proud of the Magpies' fourth goal six minutes into the second period, which followed a lengthy passing move. Rounding off the attack, Lloyd Sam fed the ball into the channel, where Freeman cut inside and curled into the far corner with the outside of his boot.

Chants of 'It's just like watching Juve' circulated, for Notts were putting on a show. But, they were not finished, as Judge demonstrated with a long-range hit that was smartly gathered by Williams.

After replacing Dele Adebola, Lee Hughes looked set to score, when he created space for himself inside the box. Before he could get a shot away, Judge nipped in to steal possession and had a shot blocked by Williams' legs.

Neal Bishop was withdrawn from the action through injury, leading to Gavin Mahon's introduction. Youth Team goalkeeper Fabian Spiess was later handed his senior debut, with Stuart Nelson withdrawn to a standing ovation.

Judge again came close to adding his second, when he latched onto Sheehan's in-swinging free-kick, but the ball flew inches wide of the post. For the visitors, Wordsworth struck the woodwork with a free-kick and Henderson had a shot deflected narrowly off target.

Wordsworth eventually found the net with a stunning volley in added time, though it was nothing more than a consolation for the U's. One away fan appeared to be cheered up by the finish and he celebrated the goal by giving Wordsworth a well-received hug.

Any hopes of climbing into the Play-Off places was diminished when news filtered out that Stevenage had added a second and third goal. This did not stop the home faithful showing their appreciation for the players, who had missed out on a Play-Off place on goal difference.

Attendance: 8,942 (285 away supporters)

Man of the Match, sponsored by Chino Latino: Daniel Bogdanovic

    Data provided by Press Association


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