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Match Reports

Notts 1-1 Lincoln

Notts settle for a point against league leaders

2 February 2019

Notts County were held to a draw by league leaders Lincoln at Meadow Lane.

Spot-kicks at either end had a big impact on proceedings with Jon Stead netting one inside a minute for Notts and John Akinde putting one wide for Lincoln late on.

Bruno Andrade got the visitors' goal deep into first-half stoppage-time in an evenly contested clash where it was difficult to tell how the two sides book-ended the Sky Bet League Two table.

Neal Ardley made a host of changes to the side that was beaten at Yeovil a fortnight ago with Michael Doyle, Craig Mackail-Smith, Sam Stubbs and Mitch Rose all handed debuts after signing this week.

Ryan Schofield returned between the sticks after illness last time out, while Enzio Boldewijn continued his comeback from injury with a start on the wing. 

Rob Milsom moved to left back with Jim O'Brien partnering Doyle in the centre of the park, while Ben Barclay and Lewis Alessandra kept their places in the XI.

With an electric atmosphere at Meadow Lane, Notts got off to the best possible start when Stead nipped in ahead of Harry Toffolo and was brought down inside the box with less than a minute on the clock.

The veteran forward showed no sign of any demons following a penalty miss at the same end in December and picked himself up off the turf to the roll the spot-kick into the bottom corner in front of the Air-IT Kop.

The home side's bright start continued and a lengthy spell of probing possession culminated in Boldewijn curling one towards goal from the edge of the area but Imps' goalkeeper Grant Smith was equal to the shot.

After the frantic opening, an injury to Michael Bostwick caused the match to settle down and chances were hard to come by at either end but it was a feisty encounter and, shortly after Nicky Cowley was carded on the touchline, Boldewijn was booked for a foul on Andrade.

The next opening came on 24 minutes when Mackail-Smith demonstrated his pace to beat two defenders to Boldewijn's long clearance. The Lincoln men worked back to smother his shot, though. 

A resolute defensive effort kept the visitors quiet for the majority of the first half but, with the interval on the horizon, the league leaders started to create chances.

The first fell to Jason Shackell who should have done better with a free header on 42 minutes but sent it straight at Schofield.

Two minutes later, the Magpies keeper fumbled a corner and bodies piled in from either side but Notts scrambled clear with Stead requiring treatment after making an important header to quell the danger.

Then, deep into four minutes of added time, Lincoln drew level when Andrade cut in off the left flank and shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards. The referee called time on the half moments later.

Notts reemerged unchanged but Harry Anderson replaced Seamus McCartan for the visitors, and the Magpies went within a whisker of regaining the lead straight after the break.

Alessandra whipped a free-kick in Stead's direction and he battled well with his marker to send a looping header towards the far corner which dropped agonisingly onto the bar with Smith scrambling across his goal.

The Imps keeper was called into action moments later when O'Brien tried his luck from a long, long way out and his swerving shot caused all kinds of problems for Smith who could only parry back into the box but the ball was eventually cleared behind for a corner.

And Lincoln had a chance of their own as they broke from the set piece with subsitute Anderson running at the heart of the Notts defence but he was forced wide by a combination of Rose, Milsom and Doyle and his shot missed the target.

The visitors were starting to enjoy a spell of pressure and O'Brien had to be alert to race out to block former Notts man Michael O'Connor's well-hit volley following a corner. Toffolo fired way over on the follow-up.

Notts looked to have weathered the storm and just after the hour Ardley shuffled his pack, sending the returning Kane Hemmings and debutant Virgil Gomis on in place of Alessandra and Mackail-Smith.

The changes worked in the Magpies' favour and they went close to the game's next goal on 69 minutes when Boldewijn centred for Barclay who sent a header back across goal and narrowly wide of the post. 

The game was opening up and on 72 minutes Akinde attempted an acrobatic flick after a free-kick was nodded down for him but Schofield easily saved before setting Notts away on the break. Hemmings carried the ball into the box before feeding fellow substitute Gomis but the debutant's touch got away from him and the chance passed him by. 

Notts were moving the ball around well and Boldewijn and Stead both found space for shots from range but didn't cause serious issues for Smith.

The pair combined moments later as the Magpies launched a rapid counter-attack with the Dutchman carrying the ball a long way before releasing the veteran striker. His low cross found Boldewijn whose shot was turned behind by the Imps keeper but referee Coggins bizarrely pointed for a goal-kick.

Moments later he infuriated the Notts faithful further when he awarded Lincoln a penalty after a coming together between Stubbs and Andrade. Doyle was carded for his protests before Akinde stepped up to take it but dragged wide from 12 yards, much to the relief of all in black and white. Again, Coggins got some stick after initially pointing for a corner, before coming to the correct decision and awarding a goal-kick.

Notts were spurred on by the miss and, inside the last minute of the 90, Hemmings forced Frecklington to block in front of his own goal after cutting in from the right.

Four minutes were added on before Rose danced into the Lincoln area and went down under challenge, but nothing was given and that was the last action as Notts took a well-earned point against the league leaders.


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