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14 March 2023 Venue Meadow Lane Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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Match Reports

Notts 3-1 Eastleigh

Rodrigues (2) and Langstaff fire us to huge victory

14 March 2023

We came from behind to earn a massive victory over Eastleigh thanks to a tremendous second-half display.

The visitors went into the break ahead after Danny Whitehall converted a controversial penalty, compounding a disappointing and frustrating first half.

But we were rampant after the break and, after levelling through Rodrigues and seeing him miss a penalty of his own, the Portuguese struck again before Macaulay Langstaff made sure of the points late on.

Aden Baldwin returned following a two-match suspension and was flanked by Adam Chicksen and Connell Rawlinson in a back three, protecting goalkeeper Tiernan Brooks in the continued absence of Sam Slocombe.

John Bostock returned to the starting line-up alongside Matt Palmer in defensive midfield and, ahead of them, there was a first start for Connor Lemonheigh-Evans alongside Rodrigues.

Langstaff took his usual place up front and, with Kyle Cameron on the bench after missing Saturday’s win through illness, the striker took the armband once more.

Geraldo Bajrami, Jim O’Brien, Frank Vincent and Sam Austin were Luke Williams’ other substitute options.

We made an uncharacteristically poor start to the match and, having narrowly evaded danger following a couple of dangerous balls over the top, Baldwin had to make a sensational recovering challenge in the area after conceding possession on the touchline.

Former Magpie Joe McDonnell pushed away Rodrigues’ effort two minutes later, before Brooks gave himself a problem when his wayward pass presented the ball to Whitehall. The forward could only fire the ball straight at him.

Moments later, JJ McKiernan was shown a yellow card for lunging in on Palmer – writing his name into the book alongside Gerry McDonagh, who had earlier delayed the taking of a throw-in in front of the dug-outs. Eastleigh boss Lee Bradbury also saw yellow in the aftermath.

Nemane was getting plenty of joy down the right but failing to find the final ball – and our frustrations continued as McDonnell pushed away a Jones free-kick after Rodrigues was fouled 20 yards out.

We weren’t able to capitalise on our good spell, though, and on 32 minutes we were dealt a hammer blow when the referee felt a Notts man had pulled back his man at a corner. Whitehall made no mistake from the spot.

It took us until the 45th minute to respond with a meaningful attack, Palmer switching the play to Nemane, whose cross was met by Langstaff. His header was comfortably saved.

And, moments later, Langstaff had another chance to restore parity when Brooks picked him out with a long ball over the top. Unlike at Chesterfield, however, he got his shot all wrong.

We emerged for the second half unchanged and immediately asserted our dominance, Langstaff being unable to guide Jones’ outstanding cross home before, moments later, clearly being held by a defender as he nodded Rodrigues’ delivery wide – only for the referee to give a goal kick.

Our night got even worse on 56 minutes when Baldwin limped off after requiring treatment, Bajrami taking his place in the heart of defence.

And, after Nemane and Lemonheigh-Evans both fired shots high and wide in dangerous positions, there was an increasing feeling that it was going to be an unsuccessful night.

Rodrigues had other ideas, though, playing a lovely one-two to release Nemane down the right. This time, the wing back decided to cross the ball early and Langstaff did brilliantly to control it before laying off to Rodrigues. The midfielder danced past a couple of defenders in the area and sent McDonnell the wrong way with a calm finish.

Five minutes later, we probably should have been ahead as Brooks waited for the perfect moment to loft a ball over the top for Lemonheigh-Evans, whose excellent chest control took him into the area. He got too much on his cross, though, and Langstaff couldn’t meet it on the slide.

A golden opportunity was just around the corner, though, as an Eastleigh man was adjudged to have handled the ball at close quarters in the area. Rodrigues stepped up to score his eighth penalty of the season – but McDonnell saved his initial effort and was equal his header on the rebound.

It felt like a potential turning point in the game but, far from dwelling on the disappointment, Rodrigues refused to relinquish his hero duties as, five minutes later, he pounced on substitute Austin’s deflected shot, producing an sublime finish with the outside of his boot to spark jubilant scenes in front of the Kop.

Austin, who had replaced Bostock on the hour, saw an effort deflect narrowly wide before a member of Eastleigh’s coaching staff was red-carded following an altercation with the fourth official.

It was all unravelling for the visitors and the contest was put firmly to bed on 88 minutes when Rodrigues delivered a pinpoint corner into the area for Langstaff to head low across goal for his 36th of the season.

McDonnell made a huge save to deny Austin at his near post and was then equal to a flicked Langstaff effort after he’d been played through by the purring Rodrigues.

But, on a night when the scoreline could have been far more favourable, in the end we had to settle for just the three.

STARTING XI: Brooks; Chicksen, Baldwin (Bajrami 55'), Rawlinson; Jones (Vincent 77'), Nemane; Bostock (Austin 60'), Palmer, Lemonheigh-Evans, Rodrigues; Langstaff

UNUSED SUBS: Cameron, O'Brien

ATTENDANCE: 6058 (60)

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