Notts County battle back from 2-0 down to stun Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup


Notts County produced an astonishing comeback to seal their place in the second round of the FA Cup as they came from two goals down to see off Bristol Rovers.

In a mesmerising contest at Meadow Lane, the Magpies were behind after just eight minutes when Liam Sercombe powered a header past Ross Fitzsimons.

Stuart Sinclair then made it 2-0 just four minutes later when he nodded in a corner from Chris Lines to put the League One side in the driving seat.

But Notts’ comeback began with two goals in two minutes from on-loan Nottingham Forest midfielder Ryan Yates.

Ryan Yates (right) celebrates pulling a goal back to make it 2-1

First he sent a header past Adam Smith from Carl Dickinson’s free-kick before tapping in the defender’s corner for the equaliser.

Jon Stead then made it 3-2 when he converted Jorge Grant’s pinpoint cross before the latter got in on the act himself to score in injury time.

It capped off what was a wonderful advert for the FA Cup in a game that was breathless from start to finish.

Within the opening two minutes, Rovers had already fashioned a half-decent chance as Darrell Clarke’s team roared out of the blocks.

A header from Shaun Brisley span off into the direction of Rory Gaffney who used the pace of the ball to turn giving him a chance to shoot at goal.

He sized up the far corner but applied too much spin which took it wide of Fitzsimons’ upright much to the relief of the fans housed in the Kop end of Meadow Lane.

It was not long before Notts summoned a response as Stead, holding up possession just inside Rovers’ half was bundled to the ground by Tom Lockyer.

Grant did superbly to pick out the run of Terry Hawkridge, who met it on the volley but couldn’t keep his shot down which flew over the bar.

But back came Rovers and with their next move they managed to force themselves in front with a well worked goal.

Bristol Rovers’ Stuart Sinclair (24) celebrates making it 2-0

Right-back Joe Partington picked up possession on the right-hand side and delivered an excellent cross into the box which Sercombe met with a firm header.

Before Notts barely had time to settle down after conceding so early, Rovers moved further in front which left them with a mountain to climb.

After Matt Tootle had conceded a corner, Lines whipped in a terrific ball into the box which picked out Sinclair, who guided his header into the bottom corner.

It was a frenetic start to the first round clash and just moments later, Notts were denied a goal by a wonderful stop by Smith.

Grant had done the hard work by fizzing in a terrific cross for Stead but his header was kept out by Smith who made a stunning reflex save.

In what was developing into a terrific game, and after Tom Nichols saw appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Graham Salisbury, Notts went on the attack again.

This time Grant was slipped in by Ameobi and his cross just eluded Hawkridge as Rovers failed to clear their lines.

Ameobi benefitted as the loose ball came back to him, but his left-foot shot was blocked as Meadow Lane roared in the hope of inspiring their team back into the game.

But the goal Notts were threatening finally arrived in the 30 minute when a wonderful free-kick from Dickinson was delivered superbly into the box.

It had the pace and accuracy to meet the run of Yates who did superbly to guide it past Smith into the far corner.

The Meadow Lane choir ramped up the decibels as they sensed an equaliser and just two minutes later they were in dreamland.

Jon Stead catches Bristol Rovers goalkeeper Adam Smith in the face just as Ryan Yates (left) arrives to score his second goal to make it 2-2 while Shola Ameobi celebrates

Again Dickinson was the provider with a terrific corner which picked out Yates at the back post and he guided it over the line which sparked frantic celebrations.

Nolan continually roared his side on from the dugout and with Rovers struggling to stem the tide sensed that his team could put themselves in front before half-time.

They nearly did just that when Ameobi did brilliantly to back heel a pass into Hawkridge, who from 12 yards couldn’t hit the target in what was a golden chance.

Nolan would have wanted the intensity of Notts’ attack to continue in the second half and it was not long before the hosts created another gilt-edged chance.

Ameobi was allowed to turn and feed Stead who did brilliantly to pick out the run of Grant, who charged through on goal.

He attempted to bend a shot into the top corner, but put it an inch over the bar in what would have been his 11th goal of the season.

Rovers issued a quick a riposte as Sercombe picked out Gaffney with a terrific volleyed pass from all of 60 yards.

The striker weaved his way into the area and low drive towards the near post was kept out well by Fitzsimons.

Notts County’s Jon Stead slides in to make it 3-2 after being 2-0 down

But with their next attack, Notts were ahead in what underlined their incredible spirit.

Dickinson started the move with an excellent pass to Grant who picked out the run of Stead who steered past Smith to send Meadow Lane crazy.

Further chances came and went for Notts but they made it 4-2 and sealed their place in the next round when Grant skipped through to apply a cool finish.

Notts County: Fitzsimons, Tootle, Dickinson (Jones 89), Hewitt, Duffy, Ameobi (Forte 87), Grant, Hawkridge, Brisley, Yates, Stead (Smith 87). Subs not used: Pindroch, Alessandra, Hunt, Walker

Bristol Rovers: Smith, Brown, Lockyer, Sercome, Clarke, Nichols (Telford 81), Lines, Broadbent, Partington (Leadbitter 69), Sinclair (Harrison 60), Gaffney. Subs not used: Slocombe, Sweeney, Moore, Bola



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