Notts County knocked Sutton United of the FA Cup this evening, setting up a Third Round meeting with Doncaster Rovers.
The ESPN cameras were in attendance at Gander Green Lane with the hope of an FA Cup Second Round upset. However, there was to be no scalp for the Conference South outfit, as a brace from Jeff Hughes gave the Magpies a 2-0 victory.
The hosts created a number of early chances but it was Notts that went ahead through Hughes' 33rd minute finish. United looked set to level in first half stoppage time when they were awarded a penalty but Stuart Nelson dived to his left to push away Leroy Griffiths' strike.
Sutton started the second half like they did the first, with Griffiths carving out multiple opportunities for his team that were not taken. Late on, following United's Karl Murray's sending off, County killed off the game with Hughes adding his second of the game and ninth of the campaign.
Two changes were made to the side that faced Scunthorpe the previous Saturday. Hughes and Sam Sodje returning to the starting 11 at the expense of Ishmel Demontagnac and Mike Edwards, as the Magpies looked to progress against their non-league opposition.
As predicted in Martin Allen's pre-match interview, the hosts came out of the traps early and created a number of goal-scoring opportunities. The first came from wideman Paul Telfer's searching cross, which saw Griffiths' close-range shot blocked by Nelson.
Moments later, Sam Sodje had to provide an excellent last-ditch sliding challenge on striker Craig Watkins, after he'd been threaded in by Anthony Riviere. Nelson then had to produce and equally good save to keep out Harry Beautyman's diving header that looked destined to find the bottom corner.
Notts' first effort of note came from Alan Judge, who was their standout player in the opening 45. His cross from the right swerved towards goal and home stopper Kevin Scriven had to tip behind.
Judge was involved again for the Magpies' next opening, where his looping centre enabled Karl Hawley to volley over, before trying to get on the scoresheet himself. From 30 yards out, the Irishman unleashed a thumping hit that narrowly evaded the top corner.
It was on 33 minutes that the deadlock was finally broken, when Hawley's attempt from range was steered into the net by Hughes. Scr§§iven had adjusted himself to keep out Hawley's strike and was only able to watch on as Hughes diverted the ball into the opposite side of his goal.
Judge continued to cause the home defence problems and, following a neat interchange with Hughes, struck across the face of goal. Alan Sheehan also came close with a long-range punt that cleared the crossbar.
Ben Burgess was presented with the best chance to double County's lead in the first half, when he was sent clean through on goal. The frontman confidently rounded Scriven, only to be robbed of possession by Karim El-Salahi.
And the miss could have proven costly, as Sodje upended Watkins inside the area during stoppage time. Griffiths took on the responsibility of the spot kick but his low finish was superbly pushed away by Nelson, preserving the Magpies' lead.
United made an energetic start to the second period, with Griffiths becoming increasingly involved. And it was his cross from the left that almost set up an equaliser but Watkins was unable to keep down his header.
Griffiths then picked out Beautyman, whose volley was deflected clear by Nelson's foot. Rounding off the flurry of early attempts, Griffiths again crossed onto the head of Beautyman but, again, he directed over.
Notts were forced to make a double change because of injuries to Sodje and Burgess. Demontagnac and Edwards were the replacements.
Shortly after the switches, County nearly made it 2-0, as Judge raced burst into space down the right. The midfielder attempted to pick out Hughes, who was unmarked, but his low cross was deflected and Scriven managed to gather inside his six-yard box.
Krystian Pearce later nodded wide from Sheehan's corner, setting up a tense finish. And, the travelling Notts fans had their hearts in their mouths late on, when Griffiths broke free on the counter with Watkins across goal, though Edwards cut out the crucial final pass.
In the closing stages, Murray was shown a second yellow card, leaving them with 10 men for the remaining seven minutes. Notts added another goal in stoppage time, with Hughes netting for the second time, following some fine work by Demontagnac.
The winger, tricked his way into space down the left and crossed towards Hawley. Hawley's effort was blocked, enabling Hughes to round off the scoring by smashing into an empty net from close range.
Man of the Match: Alan Judge