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Match Reports

Grimsby 4-0 Notts

22 December 2018

Notts County were beaten 4-0 at Grimsby Town in Sky Bet League Two.

An early Harry Clifton header set the hosts on their way before Harry Davis struck twice and Wes Thomas added late gloss to the scoreline.

Neal Ardley named an unchanged team following last weekend's victory over Tranmere Rovers - the first of his tenure.

That meant Kane Hemmings continued alongside Jon Stead and Nathan Thomas in a three-pronged attack, while Keston Davies kept his place in a holding midfield role.

Matt Tootle, meanwhile, made a return to the bench following a spell out injured. Elliott Hewitt continued to deputise at right back.

Notts came into the mood bouyed by their Rovers success but had the nightmare start as, with less than four minutes on the clock, Ross Fitzsimons was beaten.

The goal came when Harry Cardwell forced the keeper into a low save with a shot from a tight angle. Fitzsimons' reactions were enough to block the initial effort but the ball looped up in the air and Clifton was the first man on the scene to head the ball home from close range.

Jamie Turley came close to equalising on 11 minutes, rising highest to meet Dan Jones' corner but nodding the ball just wide.

Notts were dominating possession and giving the 436 away supporters plenty of encouragement as they sought the all-important next goal.

But clearcut chances were proving hard to come by for the Magpies and, after Thomas saw a deflected effort saved by James McKeown, the hosts grew back into the game.

Cardwell blazed an effort over before Fitzsimons made an excellent save low down to his left, pushing Elliott Embleton's curling shot behind for a corner.

That was only to be a temporary reprieve, though, as from the resultant corner Davis bundled the ball home from six yards out.

Thomas instigated an immediate Notts response, embarking on a superb run down the right before pulling the ball back for Hemmings in the middle. The forward's shot was blocked, however, and Notts went into the break two down.

There were no changes at the break and the Magpies started the second half on the front foot, Thomas seeing a rasping effort pushed over by McKeown two minutes after the restart.

And Notts had a golden opportunity to halve the deficit moments later when a Grimsby defender let the ball run past him, sending Stead clear on goal. The forward, usually so composed in front of goal, seemed to snatch at his effort, dragging the ball wide.

Thomas cut in from the left and sent another effort inches over as the Magpies continued their assault on the Mariners' net.

And that was to be the winger's final action as Ardley replaced him with Kristian Dennis just after the hour. Notts switched to a diamond in midfield with Hemmings playing behind Stead and Dennis.

But the change couldn't prevent the visitors from making it three, Davis nodding home from a corner once again.

Hewitt went into the book at the same time as Grimsby forward Thomas after the pair clashed near the dugouts with 15 minutes to play.

Fitzsimons then made a good save to deny Embleton, pushing his strike over with the tips of his fingers as the clock ticked down towards full-time.

Tootle replaced Davies for his first appearance since early November shortly before Hemmings drew a strong save from Embleton with an acrobatic effort from David Vaughan's cross.

The resultant corner saw the ball fall for Hewitt but the Welshman's effort deflected wide off a Grimsby man.

But Thomas had the final say as the ball looped into his path after Ward had blocked a shot, presenting him with the chance to lash the ball home from just inside the area.

Four minutes were added on, at the end of which Clifton sent a fierce effort over the bar, before the referee called time on a bitterly disappointing afternoon.

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