Notts County were dumped out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in the Northern Section Quarter Final this evening. Oldham Athletic ran away as 5-1 winners, leaving the Magpies to focus on the league campaign.
Ronan Murray repaid the faith shown in him by new boss Shaun Derry with his second goal in as many games. The ex-Ipswich striker got the better of home defender James Tarkowski to provide the finish in the 13th minute.
Tarkowski made amends later in the half with an equaliser, when he touched home at the back post from a dangerous Korey Smith cross. The lively Danny Philliskirk then gave Oldham a half time lead with a well-taken penalty.
A controversial Dean Leacock dismissal made it a real uphill battle for County. Getting onto level terms became an even bigger ask in the 67th minute, following James Dayton’s well-taken strike into the bottom corner.
Philliskirk completed his brace on 84, before the numbers were evened up as Jordan Bove was given his marching orders late on. Oldham still had time for one more during added time and Jonson Clarke-Harris found the net at close-range to round off a fiery ending to the game.
Manager Shaun Derry made three changes from the starting 11 that faced Hartlepool United in the FA Cup with Budweiser. Top-scorer Callum McGregor, who was away on international duty, and Curtis Thompson dropped out of the squad, whereas Bartosz Bialkowski featured on the bench.
Fabian Spiess had impressed in the previous round’s encounter away at Wolves and was given the nod in goal. There was also a start for striker Murray, following his goal off the bench at Victoria Park, and centre-back Manny Smith, whilst new loan signing Kieron Freeman watched on from the bench.
The Magpies’ rearguard was certainly the busier in the opening stages, as Oldham took the game to them. A quick one-two between Danny Philliskirk and Clarke-Harris saw the former beat a fully-stretched Spiess with a excellent curved effort that was denied by the woodwork.
The strike-duo combined again to allow Philliskirk another opportunity on the edge of the box, only his low strike skewed away from goal. Clarke-Harris was next to find space, after heavy pressure in attack forced a misplaced pass, but the powerful frontman’s stern hit was turned away by Spiess’s outstanding one-handed save.
Notts showed glimpses in attack, with Gary Liddle and Yoann Arquin providing attempts, but Murray was the man to break the deadlock in the 13th minute. The Irishman wriggled free of defender James Tarkowski to get onto the end of Joss Labadie’s overhead pass and confidently slotted past goalkeeper Paul Rachubka from an acute angle.
Moments later, County should have doubled their advantage from an Alan Sheehan corner but Gary Liddle glanced wide at the back post. Labadie then threatened, when he won possession in midfield and forced Rachubka into a tidy save down to his right.
The hosts struck back in the 30th minute, after the Notts defence struggled to clear their lines from a home set-piece. Smith eventually received the ball on the right and produced a teasing centre behind the Magpies’ defence, which Tarkowski placed home.
As the game edged towards the break, Arquin almost scored with an ambitious effort, after a superb combined clearance by Spiess and Liddle allowed County to push forward. The Frenchman showed great determination to win the ball 40 yards from goal, but his unexpected volley dipped too soon, allowing Rachubka to gather.
On the stoke of half time, Dayton had a low strike hacked off the goal-line by Smith. The ball then rebounded back into the midfielder’s path and Arquin upended him inside the area in an attempt to win possession.
Philliskirk made no mistake from 12 yards and sent Spiess the wrong way with a driven spot-kick into the top-right corner. This meant that Notts went into the interval 2-1 down.
Derry made two alterations at the break, as David Bell and Freeman replaced Jack Grealish and Mark Fotheringham. This saw Freeman line up at right-back and Liddle moved forward into central midfield.
Notts provided the first serious attempt of the half, following good work in attack by Murray and Jamal Campbell-Ryce. The latter’s infield pass found Labadie, whose 30-yard drive was acrobatically pushed away by Rachubka.
On 56, Notts were down to 10 men, after Leacock was shown a straight red card for an alleged trip on Clarke-Harris as the pair fought to get onto the end of a Cristian Montano centre. The captain and his teammates were unimpressed by the decision, but, despite pleading innocence, the decision stood.
The home fans called for another red, when Clarke-Harris tumbled inside the area. Smith was seen to have pushed the forward but the referee waved away the calls.
Buoyed by the extra man, Oldham pushed forward at every opportunity and came close to a third through Montano’s diving header, which Spiess smothered with a reaction save down to his right. Still, there was nothing the German stopper could do to prevent a 67th minute finish.
The three-man County backline was stretched by a quick cross-field move in the final third, which saw Dayton played into space. He progressed into the area and drove firmly inside the right-hand upright, leaving Spiess with no chance.
Reducing the two-goal deficit was a big ask for Derry’s side but they managed to push the Latics back in the final minutes. But, the hosts remained a threat on the break and it was from a counter attack that they added a fourth.
An incisive pass into the right channel by substitute Sidney Schmeltz met the run of Anton Rodgers. The wideman’s cutback found Philliskirk, who rifled powerfully into the roof of the net.
Ahead of the final whistle, another of Oldham’s substitutes, Bove, was red carded for a horror challenge on Freeman. This preceded the Latic’s fifth and final goal, which saw Clarke-Harris pounce at close range after Spiess had blocked Philliskirk’s chipped attempt.