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Match Reports

Notts 2-1 Grimsby

27 April 2019

Notts County kept their hopes of securing League Two safety alive with a dominant 2-1 win over Grimsby Town at Meadow Lane.

Craig Mackail-Smith cut the tension with a poacher's finish before an own goal made the points safe, with Alex Whitmore's late effort for the Mariners nothing more than a consolation. 

Results elsewhere saw Yeovil relegated, while Macclesfield's victory at Port Vale means Notts must win at Swindon on the final day of the season to stand a chance of completing their escape.

Neal Ardley made two changes to the team that battled to a hard-earned point at Crawley on Easter Monday.

Top scorer Kane Hemmings, who missed the trip to Sussex with a knee problem, replaced the bench-bound Jon Stead, while Shaun Brisley was given his first start since the New Year's Day trip to Oldham in the absence of the suspended Ben Barclay.

Brisley lined up alongside Pierce Bird and Sam Stubbs in central defence, with Matt Tootle and Rob Milsom playing as wing-backs.

And the Magpies were called into some early defensive action when Ryan Schofield had to get down low to his left to push Luke Hendrie's shot wide. Harry Clifton met the subsequent corner with a glancing header but it wasn't enough to trouble Schofield, who made a comfortable save.

Schofield's opposite number, James McKeown, was the next keeper in action as he got down brilliantly to tip O'Brien's low effort behind. Bird nodded the subsequent corner into the side-netting from a narrow angle.

It was proving to be a busy period for McKeown, who had his heart in his mouth when Mackail-Smith charged down his clearance high up the pitch. The ball looped into the air and out of the forward's sight, presenting Reece Hall-Johnson with the opportunity to boot the ball to safety with the Grimsby goal unguarded.

The wind was in Notts' favour in the first half and the visitors were struggling to impose themselves in an attacking sense.

And the final shot of note before the interval went to Tootle, who fired over with a 30-yard free-kick before the sides retreated to the dressing rooms.

There were no changes at the break and the second half began with a booking for Stubbs, who had pulled back Ahkeem Rose.

But Notts soon reasserted their dominance and they had the goal their performance deserved on 51 minutes when Mitch Rose, playing against his former club, whipped in a dangerous cross which took a nick on its way to the back stick, where Mackail-Smith was waiting to bundle the ball home from close range.

Rose's next action saw him go into the book for an over-exuberent lunge on one of his former team-mates.

But the midfielder was celebrating again on 67 minutes when Harry Clifton could only divert Michael Doyle's excellent free-kick into the bottom corner past the helpless McKeown.

Joe Grayson gave Schofield a rare test with a free-kick which the keeper beat away low down at his near post with 15 minutes to play.

Hemmings and Mackail-Smith made way for Virgil Gomis and Stead as the clock continued to tick down towards full-time.

And Gomis had an opportunity to make an immediate impact when the ball dropped for him the area before he saw his shot blocked by a Town defender.

A couple of nervy moments followed as substitute Max Wright cut in from the right and drew an acrobatic save from Schofield shortly before Grayson fired a free-kick over the bar.

Gomis then had another chance to put the game to bed when he barged his way through the centre of the pitch and into the area only for a Mariners man to get in the way of his shot once again.

Six minutes were added on at the end of the match and, in the last of those, Whitmore turned a deep free-kick home.

But it was too little too late for Grimsby and Notts' fight for survival continues until the final day. 


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