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Match Reports

Notts 0-1 Exeter

Magpies beaten at the death

23 March 2019

Notts County were beaten 1-0 by Exeter City at Meadow Lane.

The Grecians played with ten men for most of the game following Ryan Bowman's dismissal midway through the first half and, after soaking up pressure throughout the afternoon, the visitors nicked three points with virtually the last kick of the game through Nicky Law.

Neal Ardley made two changes to the team that drew at home to Morecambe last weekend.

Fit-again Jim O'Brien replaced David Vaughan in midfield, while Craig Mackail-Smith returned to the starting 11 in place of Lewis Alessandra.

Both defences had to be alert in the opening exchanges of the first half, Exeter keeper Christy Pym getting a foot to the ball as it rolled across his six yard box before, moments later, Richard Duffy denied Law a crossing opportunity after the experienced Grecian had showed good feet deep in Notts territory.

Bowman collected his first booking on 17 minutes after an aerial challenge on Duffy which left the former Exeter man requiring treatment.

Dean Moxey followed his team-mate into the book shortly afterwards for a similar challenge on Mackail-Smith.

And a busy period for referee Carl Boyeson ended with Bowman's dismissal on 23 minutes after the forward caught Michael Doyle late when trying to press the midfielder high up the field.

Notts now had a man advantage but there was a nervy moment in the Magpies' defence when Law's low cross took a couple of ricochets. Thankfully for Notts, the ball found its way into Schofeld's arms.

The Magpies' best chance of the half followed a minute later when Enzio Boldewijn picked out Mackail-Smith with a low cross. The loanee hit it first time on the half-turn but could only send the ball over the bar from 12 yards out.

After assessing the pattern of play following Bowman's dismissal, Exeter boss Matt Taylor made his first change, replacing the forward-thinking Lee Holmes with defender Pierce Sweeney.

Notts responded with a speculative effort from Tootle, who tried to catch Pym off his line only to see the keeper pluck his goalbound lob out of the sky.

Boldewijn then saw a deflected effort easily saved moments before Hemmings tried to lay the ball off for the Dutchman in the area, only to inadvertantly put the ball behind for a goal kick.

Half-time was fast approaching and Notts continued their pursuit of a goal before the depleted visitors would have a chance to regroup at half-time.

Tootle's cross-shot had too much pace on it for anyone in a black and white shirt to turn it home, though, and the final big opening of the half went to the visitors.

It came following a Mackail-Smith slip near his own touchline which allowed the lively Kane Wilson into the area. With Notts back in numbers he had to exchange some slick one-touch passes with Law to try and work a shooting opportunity as Notts fans watched on with bated breath.

In the end, though, O'Brien made an important block to consign the first half to stalemate.

Jon Stead replaced Rose at half-time and Notts began the second period on the front foot, winning a corner in front of the Air-IT Kop which led to O'Brien's 20-yard effort being held by Pym.

The keeper was called into much tougher action moments later, diving to his right to divert Tootle's well-struck effort over the bar.

Exeter were defending resolutely and Notts had to wait until the 67th minute for their next opening, when O'Brien's long-range effort deviated through the air before being pushed away by Pym in unorthodox fashion.

Milsom wrote his name into the book for a foul on Kane Wilson and Sam Stubbs fired an effort over the bar following a corner as Ardley's men continued their hunt for the all-important opening goal.

Virgil Gomis joined the fray on 83 minutes, taking Mackail-Smith's place moments before Stead flashed a 20-yard effort wide, Milsom saw a shot blocked and O'Brien curled the ball over the angle of post and crossbar.

The Magpies were given three additional minutes in which to find a crucial winner which was not forthcoming and, as they poured forwards in search of a winner, Exeter made their only second-half chance pay on the break.

Substitute Donovan Wilson got to the byline and lifted the ball to the back post where Law was perfectly positioned to apply a simple finish from a yard out and condemn Notts to a cruel defeat - meaning Ardley's side remain bottom of the table and three points from safety with seven games to play.

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