Alan Smith scores FIRST goal for Notts County, but Magpies lose to Mansfield Town for second time this season


Notts County succumbed to their second defeat to Mansfield Town in less than a month as the Stags ended the Magpies’ unbeaten home record with victory in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Steve Evans’ side sealed a 2-1 win at Meadow Lane, having taken the lead in under minute courtesy of Lee Angol.

But the Magpies fought back to equalise through Alan Smith, who pounced to score his first goal for the club.

However, the Stags, who won 3-1 against Notts in the league last month, sealed victory in the Northern Group G clash when CJ Hamilton lashed into the top corner.

The result means that Notts’ hopes of progression in the competition still hang in the balance with their final group game to come at Lincoln City.

Notts went into the game knowing victory would effectively put them in the next round, having already beaten Everton Under-21s this season.

Mansfield celebrate an early lead through Lee Angol’s strike

Boss Kevin Nolan promised changes to his side, however, and he certainly made plenty as did Mansfield boss Steve Evans.

There were 20 between the sides in total as Notts gave a rare start to Curtis Thompson in midfield, while Callum Saunders also began the game up front alongside Smith.

Nolan said it was a fantastic opportunity for those players not in the first team to stake a claim for Saturday’s game at home to Newport when league duties resume at Meadow Lane.

Alan Smith poaches in to level the scores up for Notts

Not only were they tasked with protecting an unbeaten home record this season, but after losing to the Stags in the league last month, it also offered a chance to regain some bragging rights.

But before a minute had elapsed Notts were immediately a goal down, conceding a goal that would have infuriated their manager.

Some poor defending allowed Angol to seize possession and while the strike from 20 yards wasn’t the cleanest it was enough to creep past Branislav Pindroch.

Alan Smith celebrates levelling things up for Notts

The Stags were soon back on the attack and they won a corner which was whipped in with real venom in between the penalty spot and six-yard box.

Paul Digby rose totally unmarked, but Pindroch made a fabulous save despite Mansfield claiming the ball had crossed the line.

It had taken Notts a while to settle, but they really should have been level in the 13th minute when Smith did brilliantly in the box to stand up a cross to the back post.

With Elliot Hodge unmarked, he should have hit it first time, but instead cut it back to Dan Jones, who, on his weaker foot, rolled a weak shot wide of the post.

Callum Saunders congratulates Alan Smith on his goal

Notts were just beginning to make their presence felt and it was not long before another fine chance arrived.

Smith used his experience brilliantly to send a header into Liam Walker who, spotting the run of Saunders, lofted a ball over the top of a square Mansfield defence.

He let the ball drop onto his right foot, but watched as his fierce drive just cleared the bar.

Mansfield though looked a threat going forward and when a header from inside his own half found its way to Jimmy Spencer, a former Magpie, it looked an ominous situation.

Jimmy Spencer goes agonisingly close to putting Mansfield 2-0 by hitting the post

The striker let fly on the half-volley which cannoned off the crossbar and straight to the feet of Angol who had an open goal to aim at.

But Shaun Brisley somehow denied him with a quite wonderful tackle to prevent a second goal that would have left Notts with a mountain to climb.

It proved a decisive intervention as with 10 minutes to go to half-time, Notts were back on level terms.

A short corner was worked to Walker whose cross to the back post was headed back into the six yard box by Brisley.

Shaun Brisley’s last-ditch tackle denies an open net for Lee Angol

Mansfield couldn’t deal with it and there was Smith to pounce from close range for his first goal of his Notts career.

Neither side made any changes at the break as in a carbon copy of the first half Mansfield looked for an early goal.

Jones was required to block an Omari Sterling-James shot with his legs before the Stags dangerman was denied a goal by Pindroch who beat away his powerful drive.

Notts responded by winning a free-kick which ended with Walker delivering a terrific cross to the back post for Haydn Hollis.

Haydn Hollis can’t believe it as he stabs wide from a great position

The defender managed to get a touch but couldn’t divert it goalwards much to his frustration.

Back came Notts again as they moved through midfield with Walker picking up possession and letting fly from distance which saw Bobby Olejnik turn it around the post for a corner.

Notts were beginning to turn up the heat, but in the 73rd minute, Mansfield got themselves back in front.

It wasn’t convincing goalkeeping from Pindroch who made a hamfisted attempted to punch the ball clear as CJ Hamilton picked up the loose ball.

Branislav Pindroch can only watch as Mansfield Town go 2-1 up through CJ Hamilton

He drove into the area, steadied himself, before unleashing a terrific effort into the top corner.

Branislav Pindroch lies defeated as CJ Hamilton runs past celebrating

Mansfield were looking for a third goal to kill the game off and they thought it had arrived when Mal Benning’s header seemed destined for the far corner but for a fine save from Pindroch.

The Notts goalkeeper was then involved again moments later when he did brilliantly to thwart Hamilton from distance.

Nolan’s side kept plugging away for an equaliser and the closest they came was when Walker rattled a shot just past the upright.

Notts County: Pindroch, Hollis, Hodge, Thompson, Brisley, Smith (Alessandra 80), Hunt, Walker, Jones (Dickinson 62), Milsom (Grant 80), Saunders. Subs: Fitzsimons, Forte, Bird, Howes.

Mansfield Town: Olejnik, Bennett, Benning, Digby, Mellis, Angol (Hemmings 90), Anderson, Spencer, Sterling-James (Potter 90), Hamilton, Byrom (Thomas 57). Subs: Logan, Pearce, Atkinson, Rose.

Attendance: 2,290 (405 visitors)



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