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Doncaster 0-1 Notts County

Joe Jones

On a warm April's day, Notts County fans were treated with an impressive display by the Magpies players, who defeated top of the table Doncaster 1-0 away at the Keepmoat Stadium in an exciting, edge of your seat clash. Buoyed by an impressive home win against Colchester the previous week, Chris Kiwomya once again selected a mix of established first teamers and youth players. Surprisingly, Krystian Pearce was picked in the starting eleven, the 23yr old not having started since March 2012.

While Tyrell Waite's MOTM performance against the U's ensured his inclusion in the team. Fabian Speiss lined up between the sticks in place of the ill Bartosz Bialkowski.

The first five minutes saw both teams try and suss each other out, with little happening. Before long, however, Notts got the game's first shot on target courtesy of Alan Judge.

Two minutes later, Dean Leacock's side foot attempt from an Alan Sheehan corner went just wide.

On fourteen minutes, Alan Judge was upended by Rob Jones, and for the free kick, he laid the ball to midfielder Joss Labadie. His effort from thirty yards was spectacular, flying into the top corner and leaving veteran keeper Neil Sullivan with no chance.

1-0 to the visiting Magpies, and if Alan Partridge was commentating on the game, I'm sure the old "foot like a traction engine" cliche would have been apt for this occasion.

Doncaster were very haphazard and sloppy in the first half, and didn't give Speiss too much hard work to do. Passes were mishit and their players' ball control wasn't worthy of a team at the summit of the league with two games to go.

Nevertheless, they got some shots in, courtesy of Billy Paynter and Rob Jones, and did actually manage to get the ball in the net, as Dean Furman fired home from close range on 24 minutes, but much to the chagrin of the Rovers fans, literally leaping out of their seats, and the stadium scoreboard operator, who changed the result on the screen the second the ball made contact with the net, the goal wasn't given.

Near the end of the half, a flurry of activity in the Notts box was successfully thwarted, as Leacock blocked a dangerous James Coppinger shot, while Speiss was on top form to deny John Lundstram and Chris Brown. Meanwhile, Jamie McCombe's header was over.

The half time whistle blew on an exciting half, and after the obligatory leg-stretching foray out of the stands, the game restarted with Pearce being upended by Brown in the Notts area.

With all to play for, Doncaster were a rejuvenated team in the second half, and made their attacking intent well known with a dangerous head shot by Paynter and a free kick by David Cotterill.

The Notts defence had to be at the top of their game to repel the Rovers advances, with Speiss punching the ball clear on several occasions and the defenders contributing important blocks - Gary Liddle and Sheehan put their bodies on the line to deny Coppinger and David Syers.

Pearce, the defender who hasn't played for Notts since the start of Keith Curle's tenure, then made a glorious goal-line clearance to stop Paynter's shot. Cue much frustration and anger by the Rovers players and fans, who had heard that Bournemouth were leading Carlisle and, should the results stand, would have pushed them into second.

At the other end, the home team could have been 2-0 down, Labadie's long range attempt this time flying wide of the top-left hand corner on 81 minutes.

The final ten minutes had were do or die for Doncaster, who needed to win to ensure promotion.

Coppinger, Iain Hume, and Jones all tried desperately to soil the Notts clean sheet, but a final titanic defensive effort by the Magpies ensured the final whistle blew on a nerve-jangling game for both sets of fans.

The defeat not only denied Rovers fans the chance to celebrate automatic promotion to the Championship, but set up a tense, dramatic encounter next Saturday away to Brentford, two points behind them.

Even a draw against Notts would have left them in a tricky, albeit healthier, position going into next week's game against third-placed Brentford, as a comprehensive defeat would have seen them swap places courtesy of the goal difference criteria, but now it's as simple as "lose, and you're in the play-offs".

If things go their way, Doncaster could yet finish as champions, but if they lose, then it'll be a case of falling at the very final hurdle, as there will yet be three very difficult and testing games for the Rovers, while Brentford will officially be confirmed as a Championship team at the Yorkshire team's expense.

As for Notts, their season has long been over, but it's great to see the team prove that it can beat anyone on their day, and it capped off what was a lovely sunny day for all the travelling fans. One more game to go, at home to Coventry, and if things go Notts' way, we can finish in the top ten, which would be a nice boost.

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Impressive day, one which my little one's will recall fondly I am sure. It was impressive to see fans of both teams getting along and although after the game, some of their fans we're a little mardy/offensive it wouldn't make a bad impression on the day. You accept this unlike their fan coming onto our facebook page (Notts's Official Page) moaning about it.

Our supporters were a credit to the club, I didn't see any who were out of line.

The lads showed ambition, passion and tried. I think this will be a defining moment when we look back, as I honestly feel it's a day we as a club moved closer to getting back on with 'business'.

Well Done Notts, great goal! Excellent report Joe :D

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What a brilliant win!
I sat towards the corner, perfect view and the stadium very nice. Last Saturday was my first visit to the Keepmoat Stadium, if they miss out on promotion I will return next year but I feel this will not be the case. The match report is a fine write up, well Done Joe.

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Pride of Nottingham is an independent fansite devoted to Notts County, the world’s oldest professional football club. Created in 2013, it has served as a source of Magpie news, features, match previews, reports, analysis and interviews for more than three years.

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