Notts County have finally managed to give their fans a long overdue win after overcoming Stevenage 1-0 in their League Two clash at Meadow Lane, with Liam Noble’s sumptuous curling strike giving Mark Cooper his first victory as Magpies manager.
The hosts fashioned the first chance of the game five minutes in, when Ronnie Henry forced a block from a Noble effort, while at the other end Chris Whelpdale dragged his shot wide of Scott Loach’s near post after finding space just inside the box on the quarter-hour mark.
Mike Edwards was next to threaten in the 20th minute, but despite leaping and getting his head onto a free kick, the ball flew wide.
Notts succeeded in getting the ball into the Stevenage net not once, but twice in the first half, but both Jon Stead’s impressive volley and Adam Campbell’s one-on-one finish were overruled by the linesman’s flag.
The second half saw large periods of stop-start play and plenty of boos from the home fans as referee Mark Heywood took to using his whistle quite freely, mostly to penalise the Notts players.
Despite the ref’s whistle-happy demeanour and the stubborn Stevenage defence standing in the Magpies’ way, they succeeded in breaking the deadlock 79 minutes in after Noble gathered possession just inside the box and curled the ball home into the far corner to give his side the win – their first at Meadow Lane of the calendar year.
The result sees Notts climb to 18th in League Two with 45 points from 40 games – 15 points clear of York City, with 30 points from 41 games, and Dagenham & Redbridge, with 28 points from 40 games.
It is unlikely that either of those two will win every single remaining game and overturn their inferior goal difference to drag Notts back into relegation worries, but to be completely safe, the Magpies just need two more points from their next six games to ensure that they mathematically cannot finish in the bottom two.