Bristol Rovers took the three points at Meadow Lane to stretch Notts’ winless run at home to six games. A goal either side of halftime for the visitors was enough for victory, with the home side failing to find the net.
There was an early blow for the visitors as Liam Lawrence was forced off with an injury after just four minutes, former Notts wideman Cristian Montano replacing the former Stoke City man.
The home side had a promising breakaway in the 13th minute, Adam Campbell running at the defence before passing to Jason Banton on the left wing, he took the ball inside the full back but curled his effort wide of Steven Mildenhall’s left hand post.
The rain had started just as the game kicked off and it was making playing conditions difficult, Billy Bodin taking advantage of a slip 25 yards, fizzing an effort just over Scott Loach’s crossbar.
Notts had the best effort of the opening stages on 25 minutes. Curtis Thompson showed great strength in the middle, playing the ball at to Banton on the left, he beat his man down to the byline and slid the ball across the six yard box to Wes Atkinson, but the full back couldn’t get a toe to the ball before the covering defender, who slid in and cleared.
A good spell of pressure just after the half hour mark for Notts saw Banton get to the byline again, before clipping a ball over to Stead, the ball was cleared to Thierry Audel whose ambitious 35 yard strike failed to trouble Mildenhall in the rovers goal.
It was all Notts County at this point, Jon Stead crossing low four yards out from goal but a sliding Izale McLeod just couldn’t make contact with the ball, any touch would have seen the striker score into an empty net. Rovers failed to clear the ball and could only find Thompson on the edge of the box, the midfielder’s volley deflecting high into the air, forcing Mildenhall to tip it over his crossbar.
Thierry Audel picked up the first caution of the game for a foul on Jermain Easter on halfway.
In the 43rd minute the visitors took an undeserved lead. Cristian Montano got the wrong side of Wes Atkinson before driving underneath Scott Loach from the left of the box.
Loach was the first keeper called into action in the second half, springing to his right to deny Chris Lines’ outside of the foot effort.
From the resulting corner Rovers doubled their lead. The corner was taken short before being passed out to Lee Brown who drove his effort low into the right hand corner from just outside the box.
Notts County tried to respond, both McLeod and Banton seeing shots blocked before Loach was called into action as the visitors attacked. Matt Taylor turned inside Hewitt before striking down the middle of the goal, Loach doing well to turn the shot away with his legs.
Loach reacted quickly on the hour mark to get hands to Jermaine Easter’s deflected shot, Thompson getting to the resulting corner first to clear.
Banton’s driven cross was well beaten away by Mildenhall before a further Notts attack saw Adam Campbell curl an effort over the bar from 20 yards.
McLeod had a big chance to half the deficit in the 69th minute, Jon Stead’s cross finding the striker on his own at the back post, but Mildenhall got down well to turn it round the post.
Loach, who had made two spectacular saves in Tuesday’s draw, was on hand to save Notts again with fourteen minutes left on the clock. Easter had got the wrong side of Hewitt from a long ball forward, Loach standing tall to deny the frontman.
Notts felt they should have had a penalty with ten minutes left to play, Ronan Murray appearing to be pushed as he went for a header in the six yard box, the referee waving away the appeals.
The final ten minutes were played in tough conditions, with heavy rain causing many players to lose their footing.
Notts couldn’t find the goal to get them back into the game and Bristol saw out the three minutes of injury time to take the three points.
Att: 5,052 (1108 Away)
Team: Loach, Adams, Milsom, Thompson, Hewitt, Campbell (Burke 78’), Banton, Atkinson, Stead (C), Audel, McLeod (Murray 70’)
Unused Subs: Carroll, Smith, Hollis, Noble, Sharpe