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Match Reports

Notts 0-1 Harrogate

Roberts stretchered off in Trophy defeat

22 September 2020

We bowed out of the 2019-20 Buildbase FA Trophy with a narrow 1-0 defeat against Harrogate Town.

The League Two side, who are already a number of weeks into their regular season, took the lead on the brink of half-time when Will Smith headed the ball home from a set piece. 

And we were unable to break down the visitors after the break, unhelped by a poor challenge on Cal Roberts which caused the midfielder to be stretchered off. 

Neal Ardley opted to continue with the diamond formation which had seen his men pick up three pre-season wins from three. 

That meant goalkeeper Sam Slocombe was shielded by a back four of Adam Chicksen, Sam Graham, Connell Rawlinson and Richard Brindley. 

Ahead of them was holding midfielder Michael Doyle, with Roberts, Ruben Rodrigues and Jake Reeves in more advanced positions behind Wes Thomas and Kyle Wootton. 

Debutant Reeves claimed the game’s first shot in the early exchanges, the ball bouncing up for him 30 yards out and his speculative effort from an ambitious angle drifting wide of the near post. 

Town’s response came from Jack Muldoon, who led a speedy counter-attack before seeing his shot from the edge of the area diverted over by Graham. 

The visitors’ influence was growing and they so nearly had the lead on 32 minutes when Connor Hall drew a superb save from Sam Slocombe after firing a shot towards his bottom corner. 

George Thomson was next to have a go, driving the ball narrowly over with a 20-yard effort, before a brilliant Wootton nutmeg at the other end nearly allowed him to set up Thomas in the area only for his cutback to narrowly miss his strike partner. 

A Notts goal would have been against the run of play, however, and Town should have had the lead on 44 minutes when Slocombe parried Thomson’s shot to Brendan Kiernan six yards out only for the wide man to send his first-time effort off-target. 

It looked like the half was destined to end goalless but, as the clock ticked over to 45 minutes, Smith did brilliantly to head the ball home after a free-kick from deep had been flicked on by a Town man on the edge of the area. 

There were no changes at the break and we claimed the first chance of the second half when Brindley latched on to Wootton’s deflected effort in the area before cutting it back for Reeves, whose first-time effort was straight at the keeper. 

Lloyd Kerry and Josh Falkingham both fired long-range efforts over by way of response before we cut the visitors’ defence in two with some incisive play. 

First, Reeves did well to pick out Rodrigues on halfway and the Portuguese then produced a delightful through ball for Wootton. The forward’s effort from a narrow angle was diverted behind by a defender. 

It should probably have been 2-0 to Harrogate moments later, however, as Hall broke free at a corner only to head the ball wide. 

We kept turning the key, though, and went close when Rodrigues’ header under pressure from a defender flashed a yard or so wide of the post. 

That was to be the former Den Bosch man’s final action as he and Thomas made way for Enzio Boldewijn and Elisha Sam on 69 minutes. 

Regrettably we were forced into a further change on 78 minutes when Roberts was stretchered off after being cynically brought down by an opponent as he charged towards the Harrogate area. Dion Kelly-Evans replaced him. 

The lengthy delay due to Roberts’ injury did nothing to help us in our pursuit of an equaliser and we had to wait until the 87th minute for our next effort on goal, Wootton diving to meet Doyle’s cross but being unable to get his header on target. 

Seven minutes of additional time were then indicated but we were unable to find a leveller as Simon Weaver’s men progressed to Non-League Finals Day on a date to be confirmed. 


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