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Match Reports

Notts County v Cheltenham Town

11 February 2017

Notts 2-1 Cheltenham

Notts County completed the double over Cheltenham Town and collected back-to-back home wins with a 2-1 victory at Meadow Lane.

Both Notts goals came in the first half, Jon Stead finishing emphatically before Richard Duffy doubled the lead with his first goal for the club.

Manny Onariase set the nerves jangling with a close-range finish late on but Kevin Nolan's men held firm to claim an important victory.

The Notts boss made four changes to the side that faced Accrington last weekend.

Curtis Thompson missed the trip to Stanley through injury but was recalled to a right-midfield berth, while left back Marc Bola, winger Mark Yeates and front man Shola Ameobi were handed their home debuts. Elliott Hewitt took over from the absent Matt Tootle at right back.

Notts came within inches of taking an early lead through Yeates, who sent a speculative half-volley goalwards after Cheltenham had half-cleared Rob Milsom's corner. The ball arched over everyone in the middle, bounced off the top of the bar and went behind. The lively Irishman found himself in the book shortly afterwards for a trip on Harry Pell.

It was proving to be a scrappy affair with Notts having the better of the early exchanges.

And, two minutes after Michael O'Connor had seen his 20-yard shot bobble into the arms of the keeper, he turned provider for Stead to open the scoring.

The captain curled a delightful pass around the back of Cheltenham's defence to find the run of Stead, who struck the ball sweetly into the roof of the net from a tricky angle.

And the Magpies' delight was doubled on 33 minutes when, after Yeates' sensational corner, Duffy managed to squeeze the ball home at the near post.

It was one-way traffic at this point and O'Connor set his sights on a third when the ball bounced tantalising for him 25 yards out. His effort was well-struck but wide.

Notts continued to press and, after good hold-up play by Ameobi, Thompson poked the ball into the area for Stead. Robins keeper Scott Brown was off his line quickly to divert the forward's fierce left-footed strike behind, keeping the score at 2-0 going into half-time.

Cheltenham's Liam Davis raced away down the left and into the area as the visitors sought a route back into the match after the break. The winger's cross-cum-shot evaded everyone in the middle and went behind for a goal kick.

Robins boss Gary Johnson sent on top scorer Billy Waters at half-time and the substitute drew a booking from O'Connor just after the hour, breaking away in the middle only to be tugged back.

The visitors were having the better of the play and Duffy had produce the bravest of blocks to deny Kyle Wootton when he struck the ball powerfully towards goal from inside the area.

But it was so nearly 3-0 to Notts shortly afterwards when Thompson composed himself 25 yards out before fizzing a low effort inches wide.

Nolan made a double change on 72 minutes as Ameobi and Yeates were replaced by Jonathan Forte and Tahvon Campbell.

And, moments later, the oncoming pair spurned golden opportunities to extend Notts' lead within seconds of each other.

The opportunity came courtesy of a beautiful lofted pass over the top from Thierry Audel. Stead controlled the ball superbly and showed terrific awareness to pick out Forte, who had escaped his marker. The forward took a touch to go through one-on-one with Brown in the Cheltenham goal. His left-footed effort cannoned off the base of the post and Campbell blazed wide from eight yards on the follow-up.

Nolan's final change saw Jorge Grant replace Thompson with 10 minutes to go, but it was Forte once again with the next opportunity to put the game to bed.

He capitalised on uncertainty in the Cheltenham defence to nip round the back but saw his effort smothered by Brown.

And the visitors threatened to make Notts pay for their wastefulness when substitute Dan Holman rolled the ball across goal for Onariase to smash home from close range.

Four minutes were added on at the end of the match, at the end of which Onariase was booked for a cynical lunge on Campbell.

And the Magpies saw out the remaining seconds in comfort to secure the victory.

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