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Match Reports

Notts 5-0 Aveley

A dominant display puts us one round from Wembley

29 February 2020

Tom Crawford scored his first goal at Meadow Lane as we comfortably beat Aveley to book our place in the semi-finals of the Buildbase FA Trophy.

After a resolute opening half-hour from the Millers, Jim O'Brien broke the deadlock before Crawford's curling effort doubled the lead and Sam Osborne found the target to give us a deserved advantage at the interval.

Kyle Wootton's 16th of the season made it four with an hour played and Scott Wilson, who signed on Friday, came off the bench to mark his debut by completing the scoring.

Tasked with another three-game week, Neal Ardley shuffled the pack and made four changes from last week's loss at Hartlepool.

Cardiff loanee Joel Bagan came in for his debut on the left side of a defence featuring Adam Long, Connell Rawlinson and Dion Kelly-Evans, while O'Brien and Osborne were handed starts on the flanks and Crawford was given the nod to partner Michael Doyle in central midfield.

The debutant drew a foul on the edge of the area to present us with the first chance of the game on 10 minutes, with Kristian Dennis stood over the set piece. He bent it over the wall but David Hughes was able to turn it past his post.

James Goode was booked for a cynical foul on Osborne as we launched a counter-attack moments before Dennis was thwarted by the Aveley keeper again.

Bagan was the creator once more, this time arrowing a ball into the forward's path and he brought it down expertly inside the box but Hughes made a strong save to keep his shot out.

The Cardiff loanee was at the heart of most of our early attacks and in the 17th minute he showed neat footwork before playing a slide-rule pass into Osborne, whose low cross was diverted behind. The corner looked to have ran kindly for Long inside the six-yard box but he couldn't turn goalwards and neither could Dennis before Aveley cleared.

After a slow start, the chances were coming with increasing regularity and Crawford was next to test Hughes with a 30-yarder that the keeper did well to push away from his bottom right corner.

He then made two more routine saves to keep out Dennis' volley following Osborne's lovely, lofted ball and Crawford again when he bent an effort from the edge of the box.

Aveley had offered little in terms of attacking threat but a corner on the half-hour gave them a chance to pack the box and Alex Akrofi's cross picked out an unmarked Sam Mvemba, but his timing was off and he got his header all wrong.

Moments later, we took the lead we unquestionably deserved.

O'Brien had drifted inside and received the ball in a central position before working space for a long-range shot with some neat footwork. It was straight at Hughes, but the keeper won't look back on it with any fondness having let it slip through his grasp and into his net.

The keeper righted his wrongs somewhat with good saves to deny Dennis and Osborne, but he could do nothing about Crawford's strike on 38.

We'd been patient in possession around the Aveley box and Kelly-Evans slid the ball in for Dennis to pick out Crawford on the edge of the D, who bent it low beyond Hughes' reach and into the corner for his first at Meadow Lane.

Osborne looked to have laid one on for Wootton moments later but our top scorer took too long to get his shot away and the danger passed.

However, the pair combined again just before two minutes of added time were indicated and the striker's backheel was perfectly weighted for Osborne to take it in his stride and beat Hughes one-on-one in the last action of the half.

The sides reemerged unchanged and Rawlinson had a pair of opportunities to extend the advantage further within five minutes of the restart. 

First he showed excellent control to bring Doyle's corner under his spell but a fine block from Jack Mochalski sent the ball over for another set piece.

The former Port Vale man was then at full stretch to meet the next delivery from the Irishman, but couldn't extend his body far enough to make a telling connection.

Aveley were looking for something to reward the 530 that had made the trip from Essex and George Sykes danced into the area on 55 minutes to work space for a shot but the angle was against him and he fired wide of Joe McDonnell's post.

Despite the conditions getting worse, we were still moving the ball around nicely and it paid off as we scored two goals in double-quick time.

The first came on the hour as Kelly-Evans found Dennis in space and he rolled through for his strike partner, Wootton, to control and slot past Hughes.

That was his last involvement as he made way for debutant Wilson, with Doyle replaced by Sean Shields at the same time as O'Brien moved to a central position.

And the new boy quickly opened his acount when Dennis turned provider again in the 64th minute with another perfect through ball, which allowed Wilson to show his pace and then his composure as he beat the defence before rolling past Hughes for number five.

Academy graduate Owen Betts was handed his debut inside the final 20 minutes as Rawlinson was given a breather for the first time since the win against Dagenham in round two. 

It was plain sailing from them on in and we looked able to carve Aveley open each time we injected some pace into our attacks.

Osborne proved that on 83, when his burst saw him travel into the box to strike with the outside of his right foot and Hughes made a fine save to turn it behind. Dennis headed wide of the back post from the resultant corner.

Moments later, Crawford had the chance to double his tally after Bagan squared the ball to him at the end of a strong, six-man attack, but the midfielder sliced wide.

Four minutes of stoppage time were indicated, during which Dennis curled an effort straight at Hughes as he looked to add his name to the list of scorers.

Akrofi went close to doing so at the other end when he got in behind our defence and lifted the ball over McDonnell, but his shot lacked direction.

And that was to be the last action of the afternoon as we booked our place in the semi-finals in style.


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