Three late goals from Gillingham succumbed Notts to a 3-1 defeat at the Priestfield Stadium, which has resulted in relegation to League Two for the Magpies.
During the first half, both sides went close to going ahead, Notts had chances through Haydn Hollis and Garry Thompson, whilst Gary Jones cleared a shot from Bradley Dack off the line after the midfielder rounded the keeper.
Notts did go ahead midway through the second half, Graham Burke latched onto a switch of play from Liam Noble before firing it beyond Glenn Morris.
However, with two minutes remaining Gillingham snatched an equaliser. John Egan headed in from close range after a cross from Doug Loft.
Brennan Dickenson then put the hosts ahead in injury time finishing beyond Roy Carroll, and Luke Norris secured the three points tucking the ball into the far corner.
After securing a vital three points against Doncaster last Saturday and an impressive performance to suit, Magpies’ manager Ricardo Moniz named an unchanged starting eleven to the team that claimed a 2-1 victory at home to Doncaster Rovers. Liam Noble and Garry Thompson grabbed the goals for Notts, and they both started at Gillingham on Sunday.
The only change to the match day squad was the introduction of Paddy McCourt to the bench, it was Alan Smith who missed out.
Notts started the game with determination and intent. Straight from kick off the ball was played up for Jimmy Spencer. A deflection somehow played Balint Bajner through on goal. He looked in but he had a tight angle. His first shot was blocked, but it fell again for the Hungarian, whose second attempt was deflected wide for a corner.
The fans were in high spirits and in large numbers as they looked to cheer the Magpies on for a massive three points. It was Gillingham who had the next chance of the game.
The hosts broke from a Notts attack, with John Marquis leading the counter attack. He had Cody McDonald in support and opted to use his striking partner, McDonald cut inside and hit his shot for the near post. Roy Carroll was equal to the effort however.
The opening twelve minutes were full of action. First, Aaron Morris had a volley from the edge of the box, but Hayden Mullins stood strong and blocked the shot well. Next, Cody McDonald was played through on goal after a long pass from defence. He was in one on one with Carroll, but the Notts number one showed fantastic judgment to get to the ball first and clear. The follow up shot was saved comfortably by Carroll who had got back into his net.
Notts were inches away from going ahead arguably against the run of play. Balint Bajner showed fantastic control up front before playing Garry Thompson in on the right. Notts’ top scorer was in one on one with Glenn Morris, but the keeper saved well down to his left. From the resulting corner, the ball was played short to Graham Burke, who turned and shot towards goal, but Morris saved again as he tipped it over the bar.
Gillingham themselves were only inches away from taking the lead. Bradley Dack was played through over the defence. He rounded Carroll but gave himself an extremely tight angle, as Gary Jones waited in anticipation on the line to clear the goal bound effort. Marquis then tested Carroll from the edge of the area, but again the keeper was equal to it.
Dack had another chance from 35 yards with Carroll off his line, but it went narrowly wide.
It was a half full of close chances for both sides. It was Notts again who were extremely close to opening the scoring with just five minutes until the break. Liam Noble whipped in a corner for the far post, Haydn Hollis headed towards goal, and Morris made the save. The ball came back out this time to Jimmy Spencer, and it was saved again before
Gillingham cleared the danger.
HT: Gillingham 0 – 0 Notts County
There was little in the way of chances in the opening minutes of the second half. Spencer was fouled 25 yards from goal. Burke took the set piece, but his freekick was over the head of everybody waiting in the area. Spencer again broke into the box, clipping the ball for the back post but Burke was at a tough angle and fired over.
Down the other end, Doug Loft had a shot from distance, but Carroll just watched the effort fly over his bar. Notts found themselves three on three in front of the travelling support. Noble played it through to Spencer. The striker had the ball in the box, played it across the area, but there was no players waiting to take the chance, as it remained 0-0.
With an hour on the clock, Notts did take their chance and scored an excellent goal to take the lead. Garry Thompson was fouled on the half way line. Liam Noble played a quick freekick as he switched the play to Graham Burke, whose first touch was excellent, before the Aston Villa loanee fired it beyond Glenn Morris to put Notts ahead.
John Marquis had an excellent chance to equalise soon after, firing wide from close range after miss kicking the ball. Whilst both Noble and Bajner had shots from the edge of the box go just beyond the wrong side of the post.
Gillingham were not content with the Magpies lead and were looking to get something out of the game. The hosts won a freekick on the edge of the area after Gary Jones made the foul. Marquis stepped to take it, but he blazed high over the bar.
Gillingham continued to attack the Notts defence as Carroll watched yet another shot go over from long range.
Bajner was doing a good job up front in holding up the ball, and he nearly doubled Notts’ lead. He turned the defender and ran for goal, but Morris denied the striker as he looked to squeeze the ball in at the near post.
With only minutes remaining, Gillingham equalised. The ball was whipped in by Doug Loft and John Egan got up ahead of everyone else, met the ball with his head, and nodded it beyond Carroll and into the back of the net.
The hosts continued their pressure and then took the lead only minutes later through Brennan Dickenson. The defender ran onto the ball inside the area and tucked it away beyond Carroll with the keeper having very little chance of getting the ball.
Gillingham then went 3-1 ahead with only seconds remaining. Luke Norris pounced onto a mistake from Jordan Williams to get through one on one with Carroll. Much like Dickenson he placed the ball into the corner of the net, keeping his cool in front the on rushing keeper, ensuring the host secured all three points.
The defeat means that Notts will be playing their football in League Two next season.
FT: Gillingham 3 - 1 Notts County