Ten man Notts fell to a 2-1 defeat in a scrappy game against Cambridge United.
The Magpies made a nervous start. Team captain Haydn Hollis was robbed of possession by Ben Williamson in the third minute but Scott Loach got down well to save.
However, a minute later an individual mistake saw Notts go behind. With Loach in possession of the ball, Luke Berry closed down the keeper’s kick, with the ball cannoning of the U’s player and into the back of Loach’s empty net.
Cambridge had a chance to quickly double their lead as Williamson set up Berry who fired over the bar, then Harrison Dunk went inches away from scoring as his low shot from the edge of the box struck the Magpies post with Loach beaten, the keeper recovering well to save Williamson’s follow-up.
Notts looked to respond in the 12th minute as Graham Burke found Blair Adams. His cross dropped for Liam Noble but his shot was blocked. The U’s looked to break quickly and Wes Atkinson found his way into the book as he halted their progress.
A minute later Berry had another opportunity as he cut inside and got a shot away from the edge of box, but again Loach managed to palm the ball away.
In the 16th minute, Notts strung together a nice move following a spell of passing football which culminated in Campbell playing the ball back to Noble on the edge of the box but his effort went harmlessly over.
Burke then twice found himself inches away from being played in, before a direct move from the Magpies in the 20th minute, almost created a chance. Great distribution by Loach found the head of Smith up front, his flick almost sent Campbell through but Furlong got in to clear.
Seven minutes later, an Elliott Hewitt cross was missed by Will Norris and almost fell kindly for Smith before the Cambridge defence scrambled clear.
A promising Notts move in the 33rd minute ended with Burke taking a shot from distance which took a deflection and went out for a corner.
Notts continued to push and almost had some joy when Adam Campbell went on a run and played the ball into Smith. He mis-controlled but it fell kindly for Campbell who could only fire over.
A minute later the Magpies were on level terms. Notts earned a free kick after Alan Smith was wrestled down, which was flighted in beautifully by Liam Noble and Haydn Hollis rose highest with a header that was too powerful for Norris to keep out.
In the 41st minute, Cambridge were forced to make a change after Ryan Ledson picked up an injury, with former Notts player Jimmy Spencer taking his place.
Both sides held solid for the remainder of the half, heading in level at the break.
The second half started strongly for Notts with Burke being hauled down by Furlong. Noble played in a great cross which the Cambridge defence did well to clear.
Alan Smith found himself go into the referee’s book early in the second half as he caught Berry with a high foot.
A 53rd minute corner saw Cambridge go back ahead. The ball was delivered into the box and an almighty scramble took place, Loach making a brilliant save from point blank range before Williamson drove home after multiple attempts.
The U’s quickly had a chance to extend the lead as Notts gave the ball away leaving a two on one situation. Ismail found Spencer but his shot was straight at Loach.
Cambridge had the ball in the next again on the 61st minute as Dunk drove low into the bottom corner but referee Ross Joyce pulled back play for a hand ball against Ismail
Notts made their first change on 64 minutes with Lartey Sarpong replacing Burke.
Darnell Furlong was next into the book, finally being punished for pulling back Smith. Noble’s free kick went straight through to the keeper.
There was another change for the Magpies as Rhys Sharpe came on for Blair Adams.
The ball was in the County net again in 70th minute. Max Clark delivered the ball in and Mark Roberts volleyed home but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Elliott Hewitt was booked for pulling back Harrison Dunk, before Alan Smith was given a final warning by the referee, being quickly replaced by Montel Gibson.
A moment of madness in the 78th minute saw Notts reduced to 10 men. Liam Noble was beaten by Darnell Furlong and with the Magpies midfielder kicking out at the Cambridge defender and receiving a straight red card.
Notts had one last chance deep into stoppage time. A Hewitt long throw came out to Montel Gibson who wildly lashed his shot over the bar.
Attendance 4450 (702 away)
Team: Loach, Amevor, Adams (Sharpe 67’), Smith (Gibson 75’), Hollis, Noble, Hewitt, Campbell, Burke (Sarpong 64’), Atkinson, Aborah
Unused Subs: Carroll, Valencic, Boyce, Edwards