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Match Reports

Notts 1-0 Mansfield

Mackail-Smith fires Notts to huge win

16 February 2019

Notts County recorded their first league victory over Mansfield Town since 2005 with a 1-0 victory in front of 12,660 fans at Meadow Lane.

Craig Mackail-Smith played the role of hero, scoring an excellent early goal which was enough to secure a huge win for the Magpies.

It was the first time since October that Notts had recorded consecutive victories and, unsurprisingly, Neal Ardley named an unchanged squad after overseeing the impressive 2-1 victory at high-flying Forest Green Rovers last weekend.

That meant Nottingham Forest loanee Virgil Gomis had the opportunity to test himself against fellow Reds Jordan Smith, Jorge Grant and Tyler Walker, who were all handed starts by Stags boss David Flitcroft.

Walker, Mansfield's top scorer, whistled the first shot of the game narrowly over the crossbar inside two minutes before there was a huge moment of controversy at the other end.

Mackail-Smith beat Ben Turner for pace to latch on to a through ball just outside the area, where he was hauled down by the defender. With only the keeper standing in the forward's way it looked certain that referee Lee Mason would brandish a straight red card but, after a lengthy wait, he only produced a yellow.

Jim O'Brien couldn't beat the wall with the subsequent free-kick but, shortly after Enzio Boldewijn had seen an effort deflected wide, Mackail-Smith gave Notts the lead their bright start deserved.

It was a sweetly-struck effort from the Wycombe loanee, who showed tremendous technique to rifle the bouncing ball low into the corner from just outside the area under pressure from onrushing defenders.

The noise inside Meadow Lane was deafening and the Magpies carved out an opportunity to make it 2-0 on 28 minutes. Sam Stubbs showed excellent composure before playing the ball into the channel for Mackail-Smith, who beat his man and crossed the ball low into the area. Gomis met it with a first-time shot which was diverted wide by Matt Preston.

It was all Notts, who saw Boldewijn bobble an effort straight at Stags keeper Jordan Smith, Jon Stead loop a header just wide and Mackail-Smith fire an effort over from 20 yards before Mason called time on the half.

Flitcroft decided to make a sub at half-time, replacing defender Turner with forward Nicky Ajose.

And the visitors enjoyed a good spell of pressure after the restart, culminating in CJ Hamilton sending an effort over from the edge of the area.

With an hour on the clock, Preston went into the book for a powerful lunge on Gomis after the two players raced each other to a loose ball in midfield.

Notts had regained control and they had another chance of their own with just over 15 minutes to play when Boldewijn showed good feet in the area before firing his shot over the bar.

O'Brien sent a left-footed volley just wide as the Magpies continued their pursuit of a goal to kill the game off.

But, as long as the scores were locked at 1-0, there was still a chance for the Stags - and you could sense a little pressure building when Boldewijn wrote his name into the referee's notebook for delaying the taking of a free-kick after Grant had been fouled in a dangerous position.

Ardley made a double change shortly afterwards, sending Kane Hemmings and Lewis Alessandra on for Gomis and Stead.

And Notts continued to keep their rivals at arm's length heading into four minutes of added time, which passed without incident as the Magpies claimed a huge win.

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