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Match Reports

Notts 2-0 Chesterfield

Grant double thwarts 10-man Spireites

12 August 2017

Notts County began their 2017-18 home campaign with a 2-0 victory over Chesterfield.

Second-half substitute Jorge Grant claimed the glory with an inventive header and a superb free-kick, securing victory against a Chesterfield side who had seen Scott Wiseman dismissed on the brink of half-time.

Kevin Nolan made one change to the side that faced Coventry City on the opening day, Ryan Yates replacing Liam Walker in central midfield after impressing in Tuesday night's Carabao Cup trip to Scunthorpe United.

It was a quiet start to the match, the first shot of note coming from Chesterfield's Louis Reed after 22 minutes. He fired the ball wide from the edge of the area on the volley.

The game was sparked into life seven minutes later, however, following a contentious refereeing decision. Gozie Ugwu clashed with Elliott Hewitt off-the-ball and, despite fury among the home players and supporters, the referee only showed Ugwu yellow after consulting his assistant.

With the crowd fired up, the tempo of the match moved up a notch.

And Notts nearly took the lead when Ameobi was released through on goal only to be denied by a heroic Sam Hird block.

Ugwu, now playing the role of pantomime villain, almost became an unpopular scorer when he was threaded into the area. Adam Collin made an excellent save low down to keep the scores level.

The Magpies soon took a firm grip on proceedings, however, creating a number of openings before the end of the half.

Alessandra saw a low shot turned wide for a corner and Shaun Brisley forced a save from Joe Anyon following the subsequent delivery.

Moments later, Stead showed excellent patience to pick the perfect moment to release Hawkridge to his right but the winger's effort was blocked by a defender. Hawkridge hooked the ball back into the danger area after the resultant corner was half-cleared and Stead controlled it well, spinning on to his left and drawing another save from Anyon.

The keeper had to show safe hands once again as Notts continued their pressure with a Hewitt long throw. Anyon could only punch the initial ball before comfortably dealing with Tootle's header on the follow-up.

Still Notts pressed, determined to find the opening goal before the break, and their efforts were boosted when Wiseman was red-carded after felling Hawkridge as he raced on to a looping ball over the top. Wiseman was last man and the referee adjudged him to have denied a clear goalscoring opportunity. Dan Jones could only curl the subsequent free-kick straight at Anyon.

The first-half drama wasn't finished there as, inside three minutes' added time, Ugwu was in hot water once more. He was given a stern talking to by the referee following an aerial clash with Richard Duffy but escaped without further punishment.

Ugwu was replaced at half-time by Laurence Maguire and the visitors nearly started the second period with a goal. Dion Donohue lashed a low shot goalwards but Duffy did brilliantly to get in the way.

Nolan's first substitution followed shortly afterwards, Grant replacing Alessandra, and the manager couldn't have wished for the loanee to make a better impact.

Within minutes of taking to the field, Grant was picked out by Matt Tootle at the back post and he arched a header over Anyon and into the net.

Notts had a golden opportunity to make it two moments later when Shola Ameobi robbed Ian Evatt of possession and released Stead through on goal. Just as he was winding up to shoot, Stead appeared to be barged in the back by the recovering defender but, after seeing his effort pushed wide by Anyon, Stead had to settle for a corner.

Grant went into the book for a foul on Hird and Delial Brewster fizzed an effort wide as the match remained poised on a knife-edge.

Nolan sent Jonathan Forte on for Stead, who required treatment in the aftermath of Grant's goal, with around 15 minutes to play.

And a combination of Forte and Ameobi nearly paved the way for Hawkridge to score Notts' second goal, the pair working it to the winger only for Anyon to save his well-struck effort well.

Walker was now on for Tootle, a move which saw Hewitt switch to right back, and space was beginning to open up for the Magpies. Grant nearly picked out Forte with a sumptuous ball over the top but it was just out of the forward's reach.

Five minutes were added on at the end of another dramatic encounter, during which Hird was booked for a cynical foul on Forte when he was set to shoot from the edge of the area.

But that wasn't to prevent the Magpies doubling their lead as Grant whipped the resultant free-kick into the bottom corner to put the icing on a fantastic first day back at the Lane.

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