Notts County were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Sheffield Wednesday following a 3-0 defeat at Hillsborough. Although Notts worked hard, the Championship outfit displayed plenty of quality and booked their place in Round 2 with goals fromJacques Maghoma (2), Gary Madine (10) and Atdhe Nuhui (65).
The Magpies made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Preston North End, as Garry Thompson (knee injury) and Mustapha Dumbuya (rested) dropped out of the matchday squad, whilst Gary Jones was named on the bench. Elliott Whitehouse and Liam Noble both made their Notts debuts in midfield, whereas Curtis Thompson deputised for Dumbuya at right-back.
County lined up in a 4-1-3-2 formation that utilised Alan Smith in the holding role, with Noble, Nicky Wroe and Whitehouse just in front. Ronan Murray partnered weekend goal-scorer Jake Cassidy in attack.
In the opening stages, it was Wednesday that carried out the offensive play and Hayden Mullins was required to make two vital clearances to keep out testing deliveries by Liam Palmer and Chris McGuire. However, Notts were unable to fully remove the danger and Maghoma managed to fire into the top-right corner from the edge of the box with less than two minutes on the clock.
Moments later, the hosts almost doubled their advantage from a wayward Joe Mattock cross that clipped the crossbar with the fully stretched Roy Carroll beaten. Maghoma then broke into the area after being played into space on the left wing but his resulting effort saw the sting taken out of it by another Mullins block.
On 10, the Owls made it 2-0 following Maguire’s perfectly weighted in-swinging cross from the right flank. Madine’s back-post run was timed perfectly and the striker was able to guide the ball into the corner for the net with a neat final touch.
Buoyed by an impressive victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at the weekend, Wednesday continued to attack with confidence and Nuhiu would have added a third for his side from a Palmer cutback had Blair Adams not come to the rescue with a superbly timed challenge. Nuhiu was then presented with an even better chance when was picked out by a Maghoma centre, only the big frontman’s header was directed high and wide of the goal.
County nearly found a breakthrough from Thompson’s direct punt in behind the home defence but goalkeeper Chris Kirkland beat Murray to the ball and hacked clear. Haydn Hollis later caused problems with his aerial presence to nod down an Adam’s free-kick, though Kirkland, again, raced quickly off his line to claim before Murray could get a shot away.
The openings continued to arrive for Nuhiu, the next from a Maguire free-kick, which was headed powerfully off target. The danger-man Maghoma also set him up with an arrowed cross from the byline but the number nine’s downward header bounced harmlessly wide.
In the 32nd minute, Notts came within inches of pulling a goal back, following a quick, tidy passing move on the edge of the home box ended in Wroe teeing up Noble. The former Carlisle United midfielder let loose with a firm drive that swerved narrowly wide of the right-hand upright.
Four minutes later, Noble was involved again when his diagonal cross from the right evaded Whitehouse, who had wriggled free of his marker inside the area. Noble sent another threatening delivery into the box from a corner but Hollis glanced wide from six yards out.
County made three subs at the break, with Wroe, Jones and Whitehouse replaced by Jones, Adam Dawson and Jeremy Balmy. The shake up saw Murray move to the left and Balmy partner Cassidy up top.
In a quieter open to the second period, Nuhui spurned two more good chances by blazing over and heading straight at Carroll. For Notts, Adams’ centre from the left dipped onto the roof of the net.
On 58, an extended passing move allowed Dawson to deliver from the right. Balmy cleverly dummied at the near post and Cassidy, who saw the ball late, failed to make a connection. Palmer finally made a connection but almost deflected into his own net, only for Kirkland to smother on his goal-line.
In quick response, a breakaway attack through Maguire saw possession spread to Giles Coke via Jose Semedo. The weekend match-winner only had Carroll to beat but failed to hit the target with a fierce low drive into the advertising boards.
Nuhiu finally got his goal in the 65th minute from a teasing Mattock cross into the six-yard box. The striker stooped and headed forcefully beyond Carroll and his defenders.
Noble showed more creativity in the final third by turning away from two home players to pick out Murray with a lofted pass. From the corner of the box, the Irishman drove across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
Following a half cleared Jones free-kick, Noble then found Hollis with a floated ball to the back post in the 75th minute. The centre-back rose above Kirkland to nod home but the linesman’s flag disallowed the goal.
Murray threatened to add a consolation late on with a long-range strike, which Kirkland gathered well. Maguire also came close to making it 4-0 following a counter attack but Carroll made a fine reaction parry down to his left.
It may not have been the Magpies’ night but attentions now turn back to the league. Notts will be hoping to bounce back by claiming their first three points of the season against Fleetwood Town back at Meadow Lane.