Notts Unfortunate to Lose at Promotion Chasing Pilgrims
Notts County fell to a narrow defeat at promotion chasing Plymouth Argyle as an early second half goal from Graham Carey saw the Pilgrims claim all three points.
Craig Tanner had the first effort for either side, getting a free header five yards inside the box, but Carroll dropped down to his left to claim the ball with ease.
Notts had claims for a penalty on 11 minutes. Jon Stead knocked it past his marker in the box and went down as the defender looked to recover, the referee waving away the visitors’ half hearted appeals.
Carroll was forced into a save for the second time shortly after, claiming Graham Carey’s stinging effort at the second attempt.
Immediately down the other end and Stead could have given Notts the lead. Jason Banton burst down the left hand side of the box, pulling a low ball across Luke McCormick to Stead at the back post, the striker only denied by an outstanding block from Carey.
Both side were looking promising going forward, but were failing to create any real chances on top of Stead’s effort.
The lively Carey robbed Curtis Thompson ten yards outside the box, Elliott Hewitt getting across well to block his shot, Oscar Threlkeld heading the resulting corner over Carroll’s bar.
Gary Sawyer was lucky not to be cautioned just before the half hour mark, Adam Campbell beating him on a counter attack, the left back cynically sliding in to foul the winger. Ronan Murray took the set piece, but failed to trouble McCormick in the home side’s goal.
Murray almost found himself through in the 37th minute. A delightfully weighted ball from Adam Campbell was chested down by the striker, but the defender got back well to take the ball and clear.
Stead was in amongst it again five minutes before the break, Murray crossing in low from the right but Stead couldn’t force it over the line at the near post.
The striker was growing into the game winning a free kick 10 yards into the Plymouth half, Elliott Hewitt taking the initiative to go for goal with an early strike. McCormick recovered just in time to palm it down under his crossbar and claim at the second attempt.
It was all Notts County, Campbell ending a counter attack by firing Rob Milsom’s precise pass across McCormick but just wide of the far post.
The first shot of the second half fell to the home side’s Gregg Wylde, Carroll saving well at his near post from the low drive.
Sawyer, who could have been cautioned in the firs half, did pick up the first caution three minutes into the second half for a foul on Banton.
In the 48th minute Argyle took the lead. A low cross from the left came in to Ryan Brunt, MacKenzie did well to get a block in but the ball fell fortunately to Carey who swept home his shot via a deflection.
Notts attacked straight from the restart, Campbell linking well with Stead, the latter turning inside and out in the box before getting his shot away, the ball hitting a defender and falling to safety.
Threlkeld had a good chance to make it two soon after, the ball falling to the midfielder just like it had done for Carey five minutes earlier, but the number 26 completely mis-hit his effort sending it wide of the post.
Craig Tanner forced a good save from Carroll on the hour mark, the Northern Irish keeper parrying his drive for a corner which Curtis Thompson cleared at the near post.
County were looking dangerous still and almost equalised on a counter attack. Murray broke down the left and slipped the ball to Blair Adams inside the box, McCormick saving his low drive at his near post.
From the resulting corner, MacKenzie latched onto a bouncing ball on the penalty spot, the defender’s heel doing just enough to deflect the shot inches wide of the post.
Haydn Hollis had to be alert in the 64th minute as Carey met Wylde’s pull back 10 yards out, the central defender did brilliantly to stick a leg out to make the block, Carroll claiming the loose ball.
Argyle were threatening a second, Tanner diverting Carey’s low cross just over Carroll’s bar as the game approached the final 20 minutes.
Hollis again was on hand to deny Plymouth in the 73rd minute, sliding in to deprive substitute Ruben Reid of an easy finish four yards out.
Jamie Fullarton made his first change of the afternoon in the 76th minute as Liam Noble replaced Rob Milsom in the centre of the park.
Haydn Hollis let fly from the edge of the box, McCormick making the save, before Reid fired wide from eight yards out down the other end of the pitch as both sides looked for a vital goal.
With five minutes to go Notts made their final two changes, Alan Smith and Thierry Audel replacing Banton and Adams, the full back having picked up a knock earlier.
Seven minutes were added on at the end, in the second minute Alan Smith’s drive from wide on the left of the box forced a corner, but McCormick was able to claim Murray’s kick with ease.
Notts continued to look for the equaliser, Noble’s half volley from the edge of the area stung the hands of McCormick who claimed at the second attempt.
Despite their best efforts Notts couldn’t claim the equaliser and the Pilgrims took all three points.
Team: Carroll, Adams, Hollis, Murray, Milsom (Noble 76’), Thompson, Hewitt, Campbell, MacKenzie, Banton, Stead
Unused Subs: Loach, Smith, Burke, Atkinson, Audel, McLeod
Att: 7,642 (219 Away)