Match report from the Magpies' pre-season encounter with Spanish La Liga outfit Rayo Vallecano...
Yoann Arquin marked his return to the squad with a late equaliser in the pre-season friendly with Rayo Vallecano. The striker’s superb 80th minute volley made it 2-2, after Adrian Gonzalez’s second half double had seen the visitors bounce back from Alan Sheehan’s opener ahead of the break.
Notts County fans were able to cast their eye over two new players in the form of attacking duo Danny Haynes and David Bell, who featured up front and on the left flank respectively. The front four of the 4-2-3-1 formation also consisted of Francois Zoko in behind the lone striker, Haynes, and Jamal Campbell-Ryce on the right flank.
Mark Fotheringham lined up for his first game as an official Magpies’ player, having signed a contract with the club on the back of an impressive trial just hours before kick-off. On the bench was the slightly more familiar figure of Yoann Arquin, following his return from the CONCACAF Gold Cup, where he had represented Martinique.
Haynes’ first involvement came in the fourth minute, when he showed great strength to hold off his marker. This enabled him to roam into a pocket of space and feed a through-ball towards Campbell-Ryce, though the wideman was unable to beat away custodian Ismael to the pass.
Two minutes later, Vallecano threatened from a Roberto Trashorras corner that evaded numerous players before arriving at the feet of Alberto Perrea. However, the midfielder was unable to get the ball out of his feet and Sheehan was able to clear a mishit shot.
Continuing a lively opening to the match, Zoko won possession deep inside the visitors’ half but, after cutting inside, his low effort was deflected clear by the outstretched foot of Ismael. Zoko was involved again for Notts’ next chance, which saw his left-wing centre towards Haynes flicked behind for a corner, just as the striker looked certain to gain a headed touch at the back post.
Haynes continued to look lively and showed that he has the potential to be a big offensive threat in the new season. From a run into the right wing it appeared that he was going to be crowded out but he was still able to test the goalkeeper with a stinging low hit that Ismael had to watch very closely, as it skidded off the greasy surface.
On 22, Trashorras made his presence known again with a firm 12-yard shot and was only denied an opener by Bartosz Bialkowski’s clutching save. Moments later, centre-back Alejandro Galvez also threatened with a stunning free-kick into the side netting, narrowly wide of the left-hand upright.
County’s next attempt arrived in the 36th minute, following Mustapha Dumbuya’s fine chipped pass into the path of Campbell-Ryce. The former Bristol City man’s pacy cross-come-shot from the right flank beat the away stopper but swerved inches past the far top corner.
Notts took the lead on the stroke of half time with Sheehan getting his name on the scoresheet from a superb set-piece. A free-kick on the right wing, the left-back’s low in-swinging delivery looked to have been touched into the corner by Haynes but the congratulations went to Sheehan.
Haynes, along with Bell, was withdrawn at the break. The pair were replaced by Arquin and summer arrival Andy Haworth.
Notts almost doubled their lead inside the opening stages of the second period. Joss Labadie charged into space down the left and found Zoko with a searching cross, though the Ivorian’s finish was blazed over.
Vallecano had introduced several first choice players at the interval and they made the difference, as they turned the game around. A surging run down the left wing saw Johan Mojica fire in a low centre and Gonzalez prodded past Bialkowski at close range.
Gonzalez then added another just two minutes later with a marvelous finish from the corner of the penalty area. Bialkowski did what he could to reach the curled effort but he could only claw at air as the ball dipped under the crossbar.
The goal had been scored after a host of changes and more followed. Romello Nangle, Greg Tempest, Manny Smith, Curtis Thompson, Gavin Mahon and a trialist striker were all introduced.
Vallecano continued to play some dangerous attacking football, though Notts stood up well with brave blocks from Smith and Thompson. Still, substitute Juanito managed to drag wide and Gonzalez, the key man, forced Bialkowski into an outstanding reaction save to his left.
On 80, the Magpies levelled in spectacular style through Yoann Arquin. The Frenchman capitalised on a flick-on from a direct punt forward and rifled into the bottom-left corner with a cracking 18-yard half volley.
Arquin was again set free from another long pass shortly after the goal but on this occasion dragged wide of the mark. Tempest later came close with an over-hit free-kick from deep, which almost crept into the far corner.
It was another good workout for Notts in the new-look barcode kit that was evidently popular with the spectators in attendance. Only one friendly now remains, as the clock ticks down to the Sky Bet League 1 opener with Sheffield United.
NOTTS CO: Bialkowski, Dumbuya, Sheehan, Liddle, Leacock (c), Haynes, Bell, Zoko, Labadie, Campbell-Ryce, Fotheringham.
SUBS FROM: Pilkington, Smith, Showunmi, Arquin, Waite, Haworth, Thompson, Tempest, Hollis, Nangle, Trialist, Trialist, Mahon.
RAYO VALLECANO: Ismael, Tito, Martinez, Galvez, Gomez, Carlos, Trashorras, Saballs, Diamanka, Perea, Niguez.
SUBS FROM: Cobeno, Arbilla, Baena, Bangoura, Gonzalez, Rida, Isi, Diaz, Florez, Mojica, Juanito.