We booked our place in the quarter-finals of the Buildbase FA Trophy with a victory on penalties over Havant & Waterlooville.
On what proved to be an extremely eventful afternoon, we took an early lead through Matty Wolfe before Tommy Wright and Bedsente Gomis flipped the game on its head.
Nico Jones then saw red for pulling back fellow debutant Tyreace Palmer in the area, with Jimmy Knowles equalising from the subsequent spot-kick.
And then it was Palmer’s turn to see red for a second bookable offence, leading to an end-to-end finish which was eventually decided by Richard Brindley’s winning penalty, aided by two stops by Luke Pilling, as we claimed the shootout 4-2.
As expected, Neal Ardley used the match as an opportunity to give game-time to a number of the lesser-used members of his squad.
That meant Pilling replaced Sam Slocombe in goal, with a back four of debutant left-back Jordan Barnett, centre backs Alex Lacey and Ben Turner, and fit-again Brindley.
Adam Chicksen was handed a start on the left of midfield with Calvin Miller on the opposite flank and Wolfe partnering skipper Jim O’Brien in the centre. Elisha Sam and Knowles led the line.
The two sides traded tentative blows in the opening exchanges, Miller seeing the game’s first shot saved before, a minute later, Pilling was equal to Wright’s left-footed strike from inside the box.
We had the lead shortly afterwards when Knowles did brilliantly down the right before cutting the ball into the middle for Wolfe to turn home.
Miller saw an effort blocked and Chicksen bent a right-footed shot just wide of the far post as we looked to hammer home our advantage.
But, somewhat out of the blue, the hosts restored parity on 33 minutes when Wolfe was penalised for handling the ball after appearing to be bundled over on the edge of his own penalty area. A subsequent quick free-kick unlocked our defence and allowed Wright through on goal to finish.
In response, Sam hit a low effot across goal and wide before Chicksen couldn’t keep a first-time effort down on the edge of the area.
And, deep into four minutes of first-half stoppage time, Chicksen had a golden opportunity to put us back ahead when he latched on to a long ball over the top. It looked like he would be able to lob the bouncing ball over the onrushing keeper but his connection was poor and the chance went begging.
And we were left to rue our missed opportunities within two minutes of the second half commencing as Gomis rose highest to head home a corner from the right.
Knowles scampered into the area before firing a shot wide of the near post before O’Brien sent a long-range effort straight at the keeper as we sought a way back into the game.
Billy Clifford then curled a shot just wide of the post before the game entered something of a lull, prompting Ardley to make a triple substitution as Chicksen, Miller and Sam made way for Enzio Boldewijn, Ruben Rodrigues and Palmer.
And Rodrigues and Palmer had a big hand in our 71st-minute equaliser as the former won - and took - a free-kick on the edge of the area which resulted in the latter being pulled back by Nico Jones as he looked set to head the ball home. Jones was dismissed and Knowles fired home the resultant penalty.
As the game entered the latter stages, Wright passed up a good chance to fire his side back ahead when he directed a shot from the edge of the area straight at Pilling.
A minute later, Palmer was close to winning a second penalty when he nudged the ball away from Hawks keeper Joe Tupper in the area before going to ground. The referee deemed it to be simulation and the youngster was booked.
Wolfe saw a shot saved from a narrow angle and Knowles could only send Barnett’s sweeping cross wide as penalties began to look like the most likely outcome.
But there was yet more drama to come as Palmer was shown a second yellow card after catching the goalkeeper late with a sliding challenge as he cleared the ball inside the hosts’ area.
Barnett flashed a speculative effort narrowly wide and, inside five minutes’ added time, Brindley miscued a half-volley to send the ball harmlessly over from 20 yards.
The hosts then applied plenty of pressure but we had the best chance to win it when O’Brien led a breakaway before supplying Rodrigues in the area. The Portuguese shifted the ball on to his left foot to compose himself but got the finish all wrong as the match was consigned to penalties.
O’Brien was first up and his shot hit the woodwork as the Hawks were given an early confidence-booster.
But Pilling went on to make two good saves as successful efforts from Boldewijn, Rodrigues and Brindley got the job done on the south coast.
Notts starting XI: Pilling; Barnett, Lacey, Turner, Brindley; Chicksen (Boldewijn 64'), O'Brien, Wolfe, Miller (Rodrigues 64'); Sam (Palmer 64'), Knowles
Unused subs: Brooks, Kelly-Evans, Reeves