Notts County booked their place in the next round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy after a 1-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers.
It was a Liam Noble strike midway through the second half that sealed the win, meaning Notts County will play Preston North End, in the Northern Area Semi-Final.
It was a game of few chances as Kyle Bennett had the best chance of the first half for the home side, curling a freekick narrowly wide of Roy Carroll’s goal.
But it was a long range strike from Liam Noble that was enough to send the Magpies through to the next round of the competition, as he hit a powerful and accurate shot beyond Sam Johnstone to give County the win.
Magpies’ manager Shaun Derry made four changes to the side that earned a fantastic away point at Sheffield United. Coming into the starting eleven were Blair Adams, Louis Laing, Alan Smith and Ryan Hall, who replaced Jordan Cranston, Garry Thompson, Gary Jones and the goalscorer at Bramall Lane, Mike Edwards.
Louis Laing was back in the starting line-up for the first time since the end of October, to be partnered back alongside Hollis, he took the place of Edwards. Also back on the pitch was Alan Smith, replacing Gary Jones to make his first appearance since the last round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Scunthorpe United, back at the beginning of October.
Ryan Hall also made his first start for the Magpies since joining on-loan from Rotherham. The winger did come off the bench against Sheffield United, but was put in from the beginning against Doncaster.
It was Notts County in the green and yellow who got the game underway, but Doncaster enjoyed the early spells of possession, a patient build up from the home side, but struggled to create anything with in the first five minutes of play.
Following a flat opening ten minutes to the game, Doncaster finally produced the first opportunity of the game. Kyle Bennett picked up the ball on the edge of the area and played it through for Harry Forrester. Forrester took a touch before testing Roy Carroll in the Notts net, but Carroll got behind the weak shot and saved with ease.
Down the other end, Notts County had a chance of their own. Liam Noble was fouled 25 yards from goal. It was the same man to take the set piece and he searched for Haydn Hollis who was darting in at the near post. The centre-back got to the ball first, but his effort went over the bar.
Minutes later and it was Notts attacking again. Mustapha Dumbuya showed good intentions down the right wing and following a brief passage from Noble and Michael Petrasso, he found himself in a good position to pick out a Notts man in the box. The near post was the aim again as Jake Cassidy was running in. The Wolves loanee got a flick on, but it just went wide of the goal.
Half chances fell to both sides as Cedric Evina tried his luck from distance, it appeared to have been a cross, but the left-back didn’t catch it well as it flew over Carroll’s bar. The ball was pumped into the box at the other end, and a miss kick from Stephen McLaughlin allowed the ball to fall to Hollis, who touch a number of touches in the area, but couldn’t get his shot away.
With 30 minutes gone, Carroll was forced into his first real save of the game. Good wing play down the right from Kyle Bennett allowed him to get a cross in beyond Blair Adams. Liam Noble ran to near post in an attempt to clear, but the ball nicked off the centre midfielder and straight onto Carroll’s chest before the ball was cleared.
Good counter attacking play from the Magpies forced a smart stop out of Doncaster keeper Sam Johnstone. Noble picked up the ball in the Notts half and along with five others in support, charged towards the Doncaster goal. A brilliantly timed pass for Jake Cassidy on the right played the striker in, he looked up for the support of Stephen McLaughlin, but Johnstone got across well to deny McLaughlin from getting to the ball first.
The best chance of the half came with five minutes to go in the shape of a Doncaster freekick. A foul 25 yards out presented Kyle Bennett with an opportunity centre of the goal. He hit the ball well, got it cleanly over the wall, but it just whistled wide of Roy Carroll’s right post, the Notts number one rooted to the spot.
A succession of corners from both sides ended the half, with neither side being able to capitalise on their set-pieces.
HT: DONCASTER 0 - 0 NOTTS COUNTY
Notts County had the better of the early moments in the second half, holding possession well and controlling the tempo of the game. Liam Noble had the first chance after the break, good play from Ryan Hall set up Noble, who hit his shot from distance, it took a deflection however, as it went out for a corner. From the resulting corner, Noble whipped a dangerous cross across the face of goal, but neither side got a touch on it as it went out for a goal kick. A really good chance for the Magpies.
Good pressure from the Notts forwards presented them with another opportunity minutes later. Cassidy closed down Johnstone well in home side goal, forcing the keeper to kick a lazy clearance to Petrasso. Petrasso weaved his way in and out of the Doncaster defence before eventually being brought down on the right. The freekick came in but couldn’t beat the first man as it went out for a corner. The corner was looking for Alan Smith at the back post, but it was just out of his reach, going out for a goal kick.
Doncaster thought they had taken the lead with 20 minutes left to play. Kyle Bennett picked up the ball on the left and kept running at the Notts defence. He skipped past numerous challenges before hitting his shot, which looked to have taken a deflection, before nestling into the far corner. However, after deliberations between the referee and linesman, the goal was ruled out for offside as Carroll argued his sight was blocked.
The next chance on goal fell only minutes later for Notts County, and it resulted in the away side taking the lead. Noble played the ball to Stephen McLaughlin who ran towards goal before returning the ball back to Noble, who continued to support the Forest loanee. Noble took a touch and looked up, before unleashing an accurate and clean strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the area to give Notts the lead.
From there the Magpies made changes in the form of Drissa Traore and Garry Thompson and they could have taken a two goal lead from there. Traore played a well-timed through ball to fellow substitute Garry Thompson, whose shot was blocked, before falling back to Traore. The substitute couldn’t get a clear strike on goal however. He miss kicked his shot as it trickled wide of the goal.
Chances fell to both sides with ten minutes left to go. Firstly a freekick for Doncaster on the edge of the box, Kyle Bennett with the shot. It went through the man wall of Notts, but Carroll was there to eradicate all danger. Down the other end, both Cassidy and Noble has strikes from the edge of the area. Cassidy’s strike going narrowly wide, whilst Noble’s shot flew over the bar.
Doncaster piled on the pressure late on, but the defence stayed strong once again, to ensure they held onto their lead and book their place in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, Northern Area Semi-Final against Preston at Meadow Lane.
FT: DONCASTER 0 - 1 NOTTS COUNTY