The result is more important than the performance. Always.
This is something that Magpies boss Kevin Nolan will be in full agreement with as his side toiled to a 2-0 win over 10-man Chesterfield in generally uninspiring fashion.
The central figure was undoubtedly comically-incompetent referee Andy Haines, who should’ve sent off two Chesterfield players (one in each half) but still somehow managed to dish out a completely undeserved red before half time to Spireites defender Scott Wiseman, for an innocuous trip on Terry Hawkridge when the Notts man had no hope of getting to the ball ahead of visiting keeper Joe Anyon.
This was the game’s key moment but the first red/non-red incident had already kick-started it into a life, after a completely lifeless first 30 minutes. Gozie Ugwu reacting to having his legs held by Elliott Hewitt by throwing him to the ground right in-front of the linesman. It was the most blatant of reds, but Haines somehow decided it was only worth a yellow, before obviously realising his mistake and rectifying it in bizarre fashion 15 minutes later.
Notts picked-up considerably after that initial injustice and created a few half-decent openings, the best of which saw the lively Hawkridge denied by a goal-line clearance. There was also a good chance at the other end for Ugwu, but his shot lacked power and was smartly stopped by Adam Collin. Following the actual red card, Notts started the second half very poorly and it took an outstanding block from Richard Duffy to stop the visitors gaining a lead in the first minute of the second half.
After that, tedium took over with the Magpies’ sticking devoutly to their unsuccessful direct approach despite the numerical advantage, until that man Jorge Grant came off the bench and showcased his quality, scoring a looping header out of nothing from Matt Tootle’s cross and curling home a superb free kick in the last minute of stoppage time. Might be worth giving him a start next week?
In-between the goals there was a bad miss from Jon Stead, a good save to deny Hawkridge and an excellent cameo from Jonathan Forte, whose clean run at goal was cynically denied by a trip which was actually meriting of the red card the ref gave to the unfortunate Wiseman.
Overall, not pretty but ultimately comfortable. Job done.
Notts: Collin 6; Tootle 6 (Walker 83), Duffy 7, Brisley 7, Jones 6; Hawkridge 7, Yates 7, Hewitt 6, Alessandra 5 (Grant 53, 8*); Stead 5 (Forte 75, 7), Ameobi 5.
Not Used: Fitzsimons, Hunt, Hollis, Milsom.