Notts County were knocked out of the Carling Cup on penalties this evening in an emotional local derby with Nottingham Forest.
Mike Edwards opened the scoring, when he capitalised during a goalmouth scramble on 16 minutes. Lewis McGugan made it 1-1 in spectacular style, finding the top corner with a 25-yard free kick.
Robbie Findley put the Reds ahead shortly after the interval with a well-placed shot but Craig Westcarr levelled 14 minutes from time against his former club. This meant that the tie went into extra time.
In the eighth minute of extra time, Lee Hughes made it 3-2 with a calm finish, which had the buoyant County fans in hysterics. A tense second period awaited and with the very last kick, Forest equalised through a Wes Morgan wonder goal.
The Reds progressed into the second round after winning the penalty shoot-out on sudden death. Without doubt, the Magpies faithful went home proud, as their team gave their all and were painfully unlucky not to leave victorious.
Despite being ruled out of the match, Lee Hughes was named on the teamsheet, having miraculously recovered from an ankle injury. This meant that Notts were unchanged from the team that beat Carlisle United 3-0 on the opening day of the season.
Over 6,000 Magpies fans made the trip over the River Trent for the local derby, many of whom cheered the team bus out of Meadow Lane. But, that was nothing in comparison to the welcome they received as they walked out onto The City Ground pitch ahead of kick-off.
An electric atmosphere continued into the match, which sparked into life as early as three minutes, when Robbie Findley was fed into the right channel. His cross curled behind the Notts backline and Paul Anderson directed inches past the post from close-range.
Following the early scare, County started to get on top and looked threatening in the final third. Kicking off a flurry of opportunities, Neal Bishop's placed effort was gathered by home stopper Paul Smith and Alan Sheehan's free kick looped over, after taking a deflection off the wall.
Smith was seriously tested for the first time by Lee Hughes, who forced the goalkeeper into a reaching save from Sheehan's in-swinging delivery on the right wing. From the resulting corner, the Magpies came close again, this time through Bishop, who clipped the bar with a volley against the turf.
Ricky Ravenhill had two hits blocked before his team's dominance paid off, with the club's longest serving player, Edwards, finding the net on 16 minutes. Another dangerous delivery by Sheehan led to a goalmouth scramble, where Edwards managed to prod home and spark uncontrollable celebrations in the away end.
The County fans were almost silenced within minutes by two of Andy Reid's set-plays from deep. On both occasions, Stuart Nelson had to be alert, though his parry from the second delivery called Julian Kelly into action with a superb sliding block.
It was from a free kick that Forest levelled but it wasn't Reid that struck the ball. McGugan had been brought down on the edge of the box and stepped up to strike powerfully out of Nelson's reach, in off the woodwork - a spectacular finish.
The Reds continued to press following the equaliser and Radoslaw Majewski almost made it 2-1 with a grounded hit from 20 yards. The midfielder then found Reid in a fantastic position with a diagonal ball but the wideman was denied by Nelson's spreading aerial save.
As the hosts continued to grow into the game, Chris Cohen picked out Findley with a pinpoint cross and the American found the top corner with a floated header. However, the home fans' celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee, who had raised his flag for offside.
Notts came out of the traps early in the second period and came close on a number of occasions. Edwards' left-wing delivery saw Smith unassertively fist away at his back post, the Forest defence only just managed to escape another lengthy goalmouth scramble and Ravenhill tested Smith with a stern shot from the corner of the six-yard box.
Despite the promising opening, it was Forest that struck next, after Reid was given space to cross from the left. Findley drifted into space at the far post and side-footed across the face of goal, into the bottom corner.
Lee Hughes got a touch on Hamza Bencherif's powered free kick, almost catching Smith out, as County searched for a leveller. Hughes also found the roof of the net with a cross and Bencherif headed wide.
Findley could have made it 3-1, when he found space from a long ball, but his half volley was acrobatically kept out by Nelson. At the other end, Hawley fired just over from outside the box.
Cristian Montano and Westcarr were introduced to give Notts more offensive threat. And what a decision it proved to be by Martin Allen.
Moments after stepping onto the pitch, Westcarr got a sniff of goal and turned to fire into the bottom-left corner - totally out of the blue. The forward was ecstatic and ran the length of the pitch to celebrate near the Magpies fans.
Hawley thought he'd put Notts ahead a minute later, when Smith only just managed to turn away his low hit. But, Smith's next save was incredible, as he flicked over with the very tips of his fingertips, following Lee Hughes' touch on Montano's unexpected volleyed centre.
Majewski had the home fans on their feet when his 90th minute free kick nestled on the roof of the net. Nobody was able to find the net ahead of the final whistle, meaning the game progressed into extra time.
Bishop threw himself in the way of Morgan's strike to prevent the defender from making it 3-2. And, what an important block it proved to be on 98 minutes.
Hawley found Lee Hughes, who had pulled away from his marker, with a perfectly weighted pass. Hughes' touch was calm and he went on to bend against the foot of the post and into the net, sending the fans behind the goal ballistic.
Substitute Joe Garner could have pulled the Reds onto level terms, when his hit took a strong deflection. Nelson watched closely to tip behind for a corner and Notts went into the break ahead.
It was going to be a nerve-jangling second half and it wasn't helped by Jonathan Greening's chance inside the area. Fortunately for the Magpies, he found the crowd, rather than the goal, as did Garner, when he headed inches over.
The Notts fans bellowed out the Wheelbarrow Song, playing their part in urging their team on to victory. Their 11 had a long way to go, though, especially with the hosts throwing more and more men forward, as the seconds ticked away.
Cohen almost created a late equaliser, following what seemed like a foul on Westcarr, only Morgan headed over. Then, Garner hit a thunderous volley towards the bottom corner and the away fans were relieved to see it crash into the advertising boards.
Two minutes of additional minutes were shown but the drama wasn't over. Totally by surprise, the last kick of the game saw Morgan rifle against the bar and into the net, denying Notts a place in the second round.
The clash went to a penalty shoot-out, which was taken to sudden death, after the teams scored three each. Luke Chambers struck home for the decisive penalty, making it 4-3, before Bishop lifted over with the final spot-kick.
Attendance: 21,605 (6,186 away supporters)