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  1. On this day 23 years ago, Notts County found themselves playing at Wembley for the second season in a row and the fourth time in the decade when they took on Ascoli in the Anglo-Italian Cup final. Having enjoyed Wembley glory in 1990 and 1991, winning the Third Division playoff final and then its Second Division counterpart, the Magpies then fell flat in 1994 when they fell to a 1-0 loss to a Georghe Hagi-inspired Brescia. However, they would be back once again just a year later against Ascoli, who boasted Germany star Oliver Bierhoff in their ranks. In the 1995 showpiece, Notts manager Howard Kendall allowed assistant Russell Slade to lead the team out, whilst recent signings gave way to younger players, long serving players or those who hadn't previously played at Wembley. One sour note is that only 11,704 spectators turned up, around 5,500 less than for the previous season's final, perhaps due to the team's poor league form - which would ultimately culminate in relegation from the second tier - making the occasional a little too bittersweet. Notts took the lead on 12 minutes as a long throw by Andy Legg deceived the Ascoli keeper and went into the back of the net, but Tony Agana was judged to have got a faint touch on the ball and so he was credited for the goal. Ascoli, also fighting against relegation domestically and third bottom of Serie B, equalised on 32 minutes when Shaun Murphy's attempted clearance cannoned off Michael Johnson and fell to Walter Mirabelli, who had the easy task of finishing off. However, Kendall's side retook the lead and, as it turned out, scored the winner just before the break when transfer-listed forward Devon White headed home from Paul Devlin's cross. Despite the glory of winning the trophy, the celebrations were muted because Notts were back in training the very next day to prepare for a midweek league clash against fellow strugglers Bristol City, which would yield a 1-1 draw. One more Anglo-Italian Cup competition would be contested before being discontinued due to fixture congestion, with Port Vale losing to Genoa in the 1996 final. The Valiants' defeat meant that Notts were the only English team to win the trophy the four seasons that the modern version was contested, having previously been contested in on and off during the 1960s until the 1980s. Bierhoff went on to score both goals in the Euro 96 final, with Germany beating the Czech Republic 2-1, and would go on to have fruitful spells at Udinese and AC Milan before winding his career down at Monaco and Chievo Verona. Share your memories of this day on Pride of Nottingham by signing up to the website, visiting the forum and joining in the chat with hundreds of fellow Notts County fans. Fancy showcasing your brand or business on Pride of Nottingham? Click here to find out more about sponsorship and advertising opportunities with us.
  2. Yesterday (19 March) Pride of Nottingham spoke about Notts County's 1994-95 Anglo-Italian Cup win over Ascoli at Wembley, which had taken place 23 years prior. Today (20 March) is the 24-year anniversary of their first Anglo-Italian Cup final appearance at England's national stadium, which unfortunately did not go the Magpies' way. The Magpies had reached the final by overcoming Derby County and beating Nottingham Forest in the preliminary round before beating Ascoli, Pisa and Ancona in the first round, though the 3-1 loss to Brescia would be the first of two defeats to the Serie B side. Then came victory against Southend United over two legs, though the game had to go on penalties as both legs finished 1-0 to each side, and so Notts went to Wembley to face the Lombardy side for the second time in the competition. Only 17,185 made it to Wembley, under half the crowd who came to see Derby's meek 3-1 defeat by Cremonese the previous year, a fact that was picked up by much of the press when it came to the lack of people coming to the showpiece stadium. The encounter itself - settled in the Italian side's favour by Gabriele Ambrosetti's well worked goal just after the hour - was given credit by the press, however. The Independent described it as thus: At least County made more of a match of it than Derby had, and they put together a thrilling fight in the closing minutes. This hearty, last-ditch charge served to reinforce the national stereotypes that had been on show all afternoon: the clenched-fist effort and aggression of the English Endsleigh League side almost matching the skill and flair of the Italian Serie B representatives, whose composure was as evident as their willingness to go down in the tackle. Here is a not particularly flattering match report in an unspecified national newspaper, as quoted by the Up The Maggies site. Wembley's twin towers glistened in the pale spring sunshine and the jobsworths on gate duty looked as inscrutable as ever. But this was the final of the Anglo-Italian Cup, football's response to Frank Bruno's midweek heavyweight bout with Jesse Ferguson. There was once a quiz question which few people ask these days: which league club used Wembley as their home ground. Answer: Clapton Orient, before the war, when their own ground was not available. It is difficult to find anyone who watched Clapton Orient play at Wembley in the Thirties but the atmosphere must have been a little like yesterday's. The Anglo-Italian Cup is a sham. Many of the fixtures have been accompanied by awful violence, though not so much of late, a happy by-product of the fierce apathy which currently surrounds the competition. There were 17,000 at Wembley yesterday. Perhaps some of them watched Dame Bruno against Big Jesse in Birmingham last Wednesday. The ticket tout on Wembley Way was surely planted by the match organisers to lend some authenticity to the proceedings. The afternoon built towards its crescendo. There was a penalty shoot-out, sponsored by the Nottingham Evening Post, a six-a-side match between the veterans of Notts County and Nottingham Forest and a section of music by the band of the Welsh Guards. Then some Italian restaurant proprietor called Paulo Rossi put in an appearance. The trophy is played for between clubs from the English First Division and the Italian Serie B. The First Division clubs are divided into eight groups of three (there is talk of doing away with the group system) and County ultimately won through by beating off the challenge of Southend United in the English semi-final. Brescia - and if you know where that is you deserve an Anglo-Italian Cup all in yourself - triumphed over Pescara. Notts County finished second yesterday, and deserved to, but at least the contest was not as one-sided as last season when Derby County were totally out-manoeuvred by Cremonese, who now play in Serie A. The goal, in the 66th minute, was scored by Gabriele Ambrosetti after a delightful chip from Domini and a blocked shot from Sabau. County put the Italian club under sustained pressure in the final 20 minutes and Palmer had a shot cleared off the line in injury time. Brescia, under the guidance of Romania's former manager Mircea Lucescu, played some fine football in fitful patches and in the delightful Gheorghe Hagi, also of Romania, we at least had the pleasure of watching one of the finest footballers in Europe. It was not enough though. And here is YouTube footage of the highlights. Share your memories of the game on Pride of Nottingham by signing up to the website, visiting the forum and joining in the chat with hundreds of fellow Notts County fans. Fancy showcasing your brand or business on Pride of Nottingham? Click here to find out more about sponsorship and advertising opportunities with us.

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