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Match Report: Notts County succumb on penalties to Scunthorpe United in League Cup

Joe Jones

Notts County have certainly enjoyed some memorable nights in the League Cup over the last couple of years. The epic showdown with Nottingham Forest in 2011. Taking the mighty Liverpool to extra time in 2013. The eight-goal thriller with Aston Villa.

And right on cue, on yet another odd-numbered year, comes another League Cup classic featuring the Magpies - the opponents, Scunthorpe United, may not be quite so glamorous as the above, but it was nonetheless a titanic tussle which went all the way to penalties, though sadly, the outcome was a defeat, albeit a heroic one.

In a game played under heavy rain that seemed at risk of potentially being postponed as it went on, Jorge Grant hit a speculative effort from 20 yards out which hit the bar and was turned behind for a corner.

From the resulting corner, the Nottingham Forest loanee opened the scoring after Rob Milsom’s cross into the box was not dealt with by the Iron defence and Grant steered into the far corner.

Scunthorpe switched formation from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 at the break which made them more threatening, and 61 minutes in, Paddy Madden had the ball in the back of the net, though he was deemed to be offside.

However, the hosts were given a route back into the game when Conor Townsend was brought down by Terry Hawkridge, prompting the referee to award a penalty which Madden slotted into the bottom left-hand corner.

With just four minutes left of normal time, Duane Holmes put the Iron ahead after racing through onto a Sam Mantom pass, and it looked like County's resistance was over.

However, injury time brought about a Notts equaliser when Milsom’s corner was met by the head of Shaun Brisley, hitting the post with his first chance, before pouncing on the rebound and levelling the game, which meant extra time.

Seconds before half-time in the extra period, Hakeeb Adelakun played Madden through on goal, who bore down on goal and slotted past Ross Fitzsimons, although the Magpies were a man down in defence after Shaun Brisley went down injured at the other end.

Nonetheless, Kevin Nolan's side would draw level once again when another Forest loanee, Ryan Yates turned inside the box and drove his shot past Matt Gilks, who had little time to react to the strike.

And so it went down to penalties, whose new format - and its resulting name - has singlehandledly served as free advertising for one of the most "iconic" pop bands of the 20th century.

One player on team A would take a spot kick, then two players on team B would take their penalties, then two from team A, and so on, rather than the simple one on each team alternating. So rather than ABAB, it's ABBA.

Alan Smith, Curtis Thompson, Rob Milsom, Shaun Brisley and Jonathan Forte all succeeded with their penalties, but Scunthorpe's efforts were all converted too, and sadly the man to fluff his kick was a Notts man, Matt Tootle.

Nonetheless, it was a gutsy, doughty performance which Nolan and his boys can take much from going into Saturday's encounter with Chesterfield, the first Meadow Lane league game of the season.

And judging by how things have panned out over the last decade, expect a complete non-event in the League Cup in 2018 before another corker in 2019.

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We may be out early but let focus on the league and achieveing promotion. From what I read we played well really well but penalties are a lottery a cruel way to loose heads up onwards and upwards 


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