Notts County ended an 11-year wait for a win in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy by defeating Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park. It could easily have been another disappointing evening in the tournament when the Magpies went behind early on but goals from Enoch Showunmi and Carl Regan secured a spot in Round Two.
Lively winger Mark Duffy gave the hosts an 11th minute lead, when he swept home frontman Mike Grella’s low centre. Notts were back on level terms on 41, after Enoch Showunmi made his height and power count with a forceful headed finish.
Carl Regan secured the County’s place in the draw for the next stage of the competition 13 minutes into the second period. It was a great strike by the defender and gave the Magpies a deserved victory.
The tournament gave Keith Curle a chance to try out a number of players that had not featured regularly in the league so far this campaign and five changes were made from the side that started in the 2-0 triumph over Bury the previous Saturday. Regan, Hamza Bencherif, Joss Labadie, Yoann Arquin and Showunmi came into the starting 11, with Julian Kelly, Jeff Hughes, Neal Bishop, Alan Judge and Lee Hughes rested ahead of Saturday’s npower League 1 clash with Shrewsbury Town.
Scunthorpe started the brighter of the two teams and moved ahead inside the 11th minute. Grella had found space on the right flank to deliver a low cross and Duffy drove low past Bartosz Bialkowski with the help of a slight deflection.
Moments later, Connor Jennings could have doubled the Iron’s lead, when he anticipated Gary Liddle’s back pass, but the alert Bialkowski was able to clear the danger. Jennings then tried a spectacular overhead kick from Jordan Keegan’s left-wing delivery, though he was unable to gain a strong enough connection and the County stopper gathered with ease.
Notts’ first real opportunity arrived in the 22nd minute, after Showunmi made a brave challenge to prod the ball towards Francois Zoko in space, only the forward’s stern shot was deflected wide. From the resulting corner, Liddle found the net with a looping header but play was pulled back for a push on a Scunthorpe player.
As the half progressed towards the break, Arquin, back following a three-match ban, looked increasingly dangerous and was unlucky not to find the net with a curled effort from the edge of the box. The Frenchman later combined with Labadie, who forced an acrobatic, tipping save from home goalkeeper Sam Slocombe.
Sheehan’s corner allowed Notts to draw level through Showunmi. The Iron rearguard struggled to clear the danger, allowing the imposing striker to power home with a forceful header with only four minutes of the half remaining.
Scunthorpe had a fine chance to restore their lead early into the second half, when Slocombe collected Alan Sheehan’s free-kick and set up a dangerous counter attack with a long punt. Duffy surged into the space but his initial cross was well cleared by Regan, who then made a composed interception to keep out Grella’s low hit.
On 58, Regan made his presence felt at the opposite end of the pitch, when his overlapping run into the right channel was met by Boucaud’s incisive through-pass. Showing great composure, the full-back opened up his body and placed inside the near post before celebrating with his teammates in front of the loyal away supporters.
The match descended into a midfield battle after the goal but was sparked into life with just 10 minutes remaining on the clock. Substitute Jimmy Ryan fed the ball to advanced full-back Christian Ribeiro, whose shot across goal was fisted away by Bialkowski, diving low to his right.
Zoko had a chance to kill the game off in the closing stages when he broke free on the left wing but his cutback lacked accuracy. Niall Canavan could also have leveled for the hosts shortly after, only his header from David Prutton’s corner cleared the crossbar.
An injury to Labadie in added time led to the introduction of youth team midfielder Kyle Dixon, who was one of five teenagers on the bench. And he may have got on the scoresheet before the final whistle but Arquin opted to take on a shot himself, forcing an impressive low save from Slocombe.