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Match Reports

Notts County v Exeter City

14 February 2017

Notts 2-2 Exeter

Notts County produced an incredible fightback in second-half injury time to claim a point against high-flying Exeter City.

The Magpies found themselves 2-0 down at the death but rescued the draw with goals from Richard Duffy and Jorge Grant inside four added minutes at the end of the game.

Kevin Nolan made one change to the side that beat Cheltenham Town last weekend, Alan Smith replacing the bench-bound Shola Ameobi in a straight switch up front.

Exeter claimed the first two chances after winning successive free-kicks in dangerous positions. Lloyd James took both, sending the first narrowly wide and the second straight into the arms of Adam Collin.

Another Exeter free-kick preceded the game's first booking, Rob Milsom having his name taken after blocking the visitors' attempts to take it quickly.

It was proving to be a scrappy affair with few clear-cut chances for either side.

And the disjointed nature of the game was epitomised by its first goal, which went in favour of the visitors on 33 minutes. An Exeter forward pass appeared harmless until it escaped the control of Thierry Audel, allowing David Wheeler to nip round the back and stoke the ball low past Collin.

The goal handed Paul Tisdale's men the momentum and they piled on the pressure as the first half neared its conclusion. Notts managed to deny Ollie Watkins at the near post after Jack Stacey had fired a low cross in from the right, and City skipper Jordan Moore-Taylor should perhaps have done better with his off-target header from the subsequent corner.

The dangerous Watkins was next to put Notts' defence under pressure, wriggling away down the left, cutting into the area and seeing his shot blocked. Taylor couldn't capitalise on the follow-up and the score remained 1-0 going into the break.

There was one change at half-time as Josh Clackstone replaced Audel to make his Notts debut. Clackstone went to right back and Elliott Hewitt slotted in alongside Duffy.

Jon Stead and Michael O'Connor both saw long-range efforts saved low down by City keeper Christy Pym as the hosts recommenced their hunt for an equaliser.

But the visitors threatened a second shortly afterwards when Watkins was felled by Hewitt on the edge of the area, earning the defender a booking. Reuben Reid's free-kick went into the wall but Exeter kept the ball alive, picking out Watkins unmarked at the back post. The City man steadied himself before smashing the ball goalwards, drawing a superb save from Collin.

A double Notts change followed as Smith and Mark Yeates were replaced by Shola Ameobi and Grant.

And the latter almost made an immediate impact when he nodded O'Connor's free-kick goalwards, only to see Pym prevent the ball from squirming underneath himself and into the net.

Dangerman Watkins reminded Notts of the visitors' threat moments later, flashing the ball low across goal and just wide of the far post.

And the same player saw a 73rd-minute shot blocked well by Hewitt before Ryan Harley flashed the ball wide on the rebound.

Shortly afterwards, Taylor found himself in the book for bringing down Stead just outside the 'D'. O'Connor curled the free-kick precisely over the wall but it bounced on the roof of the net on its way behind.

Reid sent the ball high and wide with a 20-yard effort at the other end, moments before Ameobi failed to make contact with Marc Bola's inviting lofted cross.

Ameobi did make contact with his next attempted header, flicking O'Connor's free-kick goalwards only for Pym to claim the ball well low down.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men on 84 minutes when Taylor was shown a second yellow card for a late lunge on O'Connor.

And Notts nearly had an incredible equaliser when Duffy shifted the ball on to his left foot 25 yards out, beating his man before crashing the ball off the crossbar.

But the hosts were hit with a sucker punch seconds later when a quick Exeter counter-attack saw Collin palm substitute Liam McAlinden's shot into the path of Harley, who poked the ball into an empty net from six yards.

Nolan's men refused to lie down, however, and they pulled a goal back seconds after four minutes of added time were indicated. Duffy rose highest to claim his second header in as many games, flicking Milsom's free-kick into the corner of the net.

And the match came to the most dramatic of conclusions when Notts slipped the ball to Grant in the area. The loanee saw his low shot turned beyond Pym by a City defender, levelling the scores and earning the Magpies a crucial point.

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