Notts County were on the right end of an eight goal thriller as they defeated Crawley Town 5-3.
Two goals from Garry Thompson and a goal from Zeli Ismail saw the Magpies go in at the break 3-0 up.
Edwards and Harrold both scored to pull the score back to 3-2, but Thompson completed his hat-trick and Jones fired from the edge of the area to put the home side back in control.
Marvin Elliott did pull another goal back for the away side, but Notts held on to claim another three points and extend their unbeaten run to nine.
Magpies’ manager Shaun Derry made six changes to the first eleven who started the game in Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Scunthorpe United. Roy Carroll and Mustapha Dumbuya were back in the side after their return from international duty, replacing Spiess and Curtis Thompson.
Also in the side were Gary Jones, Garry Thompson, Liam Noble and Jordan Cranston, in place of Blair Adams, Drissa Traore, Alan Smith and Ronan Murray. On the bench was new signing Michael Petrasso following his loan move from QPR during the week.
Notts were the side to show early intent only minutes after kick off. Garry Thompson and Zeli Ismail getting in good positions on the right of the area, Thompson’s cross going out for a goal kick, whilst Ismail’s pullback earned his side a corner. From the resulting corner, Hollis nearly opened the scoring for the home side, his near post flick nearly squeezed in, but Crawley had a man on the line to clear the initial danger.
However the early intent certainly paid off after only 10 minutes. McLaughlin picked up the ball 35 yards from goal before showing a short burst of pace and slipping a through ball for an on running Garry Thompson. Thompson had options across the area but didn’t need them, as he fired a confident shot beyond Brian Jensen in the Crawley goal to put the Magpies ahead.
Zeli Ismail had a lively start to the game and showed the home fans some good skill down the right wing. On 16 minutes he passed Mat Sadler before putting a delightful cross in towards Harrad. His header was on target but Jensen was in the right place, tipping over the attempt. Seconds later and the winger had scored. From the resulting corner, the initial cross was cleared, but chipped back in by McLaughlin for an unmarked Ismail to head in to make it 2-0 to Notts.
Crawley did give the home side something to think about. A Gary Jones free-kick was cleared which allowed Crawley to break away on the counter attack. Lewis Young showed good speed down the right before clipping a ball into the middle where Izale McLeod was left unmarked. Carroll managed to get to the ball first, but the striker was adjudged to be offside anyway.
McLaughlin already had two assists to his name this afternoon and he very nearly made it a third. He received the ball on the left before putting in a very teasing ball between the Crawley defence and the opposition goalkeeper. Shaun Harrad was running into the space and was only inches away from putting the ball into the back of the net.
Notts were clearly on top at this point and the forward players were causing the Crawley defence all sorts of problems. Cranston put in a pinpoint cross for Ismail, but he couldn’t grab his second goal of the afternoon as his header went wide of the goal.
Crawley will be very disappointed they didn’t pull a goal back, albeit against the run of play. Edwards managed to squeeze through a determined Notts defence. He had the opportunity to shoot on the edge of the 6 yard box, but instead tried to pull it back for McLeod but Laing was there to get rid of any danger.
Garry Thompson grabbed his second and Notts’ third of the afternoon with ten minutes until the halftime whistle. A McLaughlin corner was punched away by Jensen, but Cranston picked up the ball on the left and put it back into the danger zone, where Thompson was waiting as he poked the ball in to put Derry’s side 3-0 up.
The home fans were in good voice as they watched their side look a constant threat in front of goal. On the announcement of four minutes added time, McLaughlin whipped in another corner towards an unmarked Hollis, his header was accurate, but again a player was there to clear the centre-back’s effort off the line. A half chance from McLaughlin followed that as the players went in at the break with a deserved lead.
HT: Notts County 3 - 0 Crawley Town
The visitors made a change at the break, bringing on Matt Harrold in place of Izale McLeod and it certainly brought Crawley alive. Harrold had the first chance of the second half, his header was easily claimed by Carroll however. The away side then pulled a goal back through Gwion Edwards. Edwards found himself with plenty of space 25 yards from goal and rifled the ball into the top left corner beyond the reach of Carroll.
It didn’t affect Notts as they looked to put the pressure back onto Crawley. Garry Thompson put a cross towards the back post. With McLaughlin waiting, the on loan midfielder got his head on the ball, but Jensen saved well.
Crawley substitute Harrold had certainly changed the opening minutes of the second half as he pulled yet another goal back for Crawley. He picked up the ball in the area and calmly placed his shot past Carroll to make it 3-2.
This was becoming an end to end game as Notts were continuing to attack the Crawley defence and on 60 minutes, they thought they had restored a two goal advantage. A corner was whipped in by Gary Jones and onto the head of Hollis, with his header finding its way into the back of the net. However the goal was ruled out after the referee adjudged the keeper to have been fouled.
That two goal lead was restored only minutes later however. Another corner was put into the box for Garry Thompson to run onto and head beyond Jensen to grab Notts’ fourth of the afternoon and his hat-trick with half an hour still to play.
Derry’s side started to get back into the controlling and dominant team they were in the first half. Changes were made in Curtis Thompson and new singing Michael Petrasso coming on for Dumbuya and Ismail. Jones had a strike from the edge of the area comfortably saved by Jensen, whilst McLaughlin earned his side a corner through good wing play.
On the 80th minute, Notts restored their three goal advantage which they had at half time. A long throw was cleared away by Crawley, but only as far as Gary Jones, who was waiting on the edge of the area. He hit it first time and it took a big deflection to deceive Jensen in goal, as the wrong footed goalkeeper saw the ball hit the back of the net.
This game was certainly turning into a goal fest as it only took four minutes for the next goal to go in. A free kick was crossed in by Jimmy Smith and onto the head of Marvin Elliott, who headed it beyond Carroll to make the score 5-3 to the Magpies.
With only minutes on the clock remaining, both sides continued to threaten, with Crawly believing they could still get something out of this game, whilst Notts were keen to make the score line as comfortable as possible. Neither side could create any significant opportunities as the home side held on for what was a well-deserved victory.
FT: Notts County 5 - 3 Crawley Town
The midfielder was used a strike partner for Shaun Harrad today and certainly proved he could play as a striker after notching a hat-trick. He took all three of his goals very well and got involved with a majority of Notts’ attacking play. There were a lot of fantastic performances out there, but Thompson certainly stood out.
NOTTS COUNTY LINE-UP:
Carroll, Dumbuya (C Thompson 70), Hollis ©, Ismail (Petrasso 74), G Thompson, Jones, Noble, Harrad (Murray 81), McLaughlin, Cranston, Laing.
Substitutes: Spiess, Wroe, Murray, McKenzie, C Thompson, Traore, Petrasso.