REPORT: Notts County 2-1 Portsmouth
Notts County produced a stirring comeback to recover from going a goal behind to beat promotion-chasing Portsmouth 2-1 at Meadow Lane.
Alan Sheehan was the hero, scoring the winning goal - his first since returning to the club on loan from Bradford City - to inflict a first away defeat of the season upon the visitors, who had taken the lead through Caolan Lavery.
The Sheffield Wednesday loanee applied a deft finish to a cross from Enda Stevens but Graham Burke restored parity a couple of minutes later with an excellent half-volley from 20 yards.
The game was closely-fought and looked to be heading for a draw until Sheehan's free-kick crept into the bottom corner to give Notts all three points and a shot in the arm to their season.
Ricardo Moniz made one change to the team which drew 1-1 at Exeter City last weekend as Burke came into the side at the expense of Adam Campbell, who dropped to the bench.
The sides traded chances early on with Adam Webster heading wide from a corner by former Notts man Ben Davies whilst Izale McLeod, who scored 11 goals in 27 appearances during his spell at Portsmouth, was caught offside before tucking the ball past goalkeeper Brian Murphy.
Sheehan cleared off the line from Gareth Evans after an incisive through ball by Adam McGurk found the run of the attacker, whose effort looked to be rolling in before the intervention of the Bradford City loanee.
McLeod raced onto a lofted pass and tried to lob the ball over the advancing Murphy, only to be denied by an outstretched hand before Burke's shot from a short corner stung the palms of the goalkeeper with both sides seemingly committed to an open, attack-minded game.
Portsmouth took the lead when Enda Stevens found space in the penalty area to drive in a low, powerful cross which was diverted across goal and into the bottom corner by Lavery.
However, that advantage would last for just a couple of minutes as Notts hit back immediately to equalise.
Sheehan's floated free-kick was headed out to Burke on the edge of the area, who took a touch to ghost past a defender before striking a left-footed effort into the top corner.
It was end-to-end stuff and the chances kept coming. Kyle Bennett slipped in the lively Lavery, who forced Roy Carroll into a smart save at his near post with an angled effort.
The visitors came forward again with Webster striding out from defence with the ball, dancing beyond a couple of challenges and smashing a shot against the post from just inside the area.
Some quick one-touch football gave Liam Noble a sight of goal but the midfielder put too much on the shot, which flew over the top of the crossbar.
McGurk and Bennett both lacked accuracy from distance, firing wide and Lavery almost got his head on the end of a wicked cross from Davies with nothing between the sides at half-time.
Jon Stead tried to spin away from Christian Burgess to get a shot in but the defender used his body well to block the striker's attempt.
Mike Edwards powered a header over the bar from Noble's corner as Notts continued to probe for the goal which would give them the lead.
Edwards was then involved in his own penalty area, blocking McGurk's goalbound effort and a fierce shot from Lavery thundered into the chest of Sheehan.
The Magpies were going toe-to-toe with the promotion contenders and not giving an inch. They hit the front to complete a superb comeback when Sheehan's inswinging free-kick evaded everybody, including the goalkeeper, to find the back of the net and spark wild scenes of celebration between the players and staff in the home dugout.
A goal behind, Portsmouth sent for the heavy artillery with Matt Tubbs coming on in place of goalscorer Lavery. They threatened a leveller when Stevens ran in at the back post to meet a cross but the full-back could only direct his header straight at Carroll.
A thunderbolt from Stead whistled narrowly over the bar and Burgess headed wide at the other end as Notts held out for an excellent victory which moved them up two places to 14th in the table, just four points away from a play-off place.
Notts: Carroll; Hewitt, Edwards, Sheehan, Barmby; Aborah, Smith (De Silva, 72), Noble (Thompson, 85); Stead, McLeod, Burke (Campbell, 60).
Subs not used: Loach, Amevor, Jenner, Spencer.
Attendance: 6,917 (2,162 away)