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17:02 23rd April 2011

Report: Town 1 Notts County 2

A nightmare final 20 minutes condemned Town to a crushing defeat at home to Notts County, as Matt Ritchie's 19th minute opener was cancelled out by late efforts from Magpies substitutes Alan Judge and Lee Hughes.

Paul Hart's side had looked in control of the game for large periods until two defensive lapses gifted the three points to County, and dealt a hammer blow to Town's survival hopes.

The visitors had the ball in the net within four minutes, but Ben Burgess was comfortably offside when heading Karl Hawley's cross past David Lucas.

But it was Town had started the stronger of the two sides and they tested County 'keeper Stuart Nelson on two occasions early on, the former Brentford man first pushing a Michael Rose free-kick clear of danger, before reacting brilliantly to tip a mis-hit Liam Chilvers clearance over the bar after Paul Caddis had whipped the ball dangerously into the box.

The hosts continued to press forward and were desperately close to taking the lead on 18 minutes as Calvin Andrew burst clear on goal and rounded Nelson before poking the ball goalwards, only to see Chilvers back track brilliantly to hack it off the line.

Town fans were cursing their luck, but were celebrating a minute later as Jon-Paul McGovern showed fantastic ingenuity to over-head kick a seemingly dead ball back across the six-yard box, before Matt Ritchie side-footed home from a yard out to give Paul Hart's side a deserved lead.

After a breakneck first 20 minutes, the pace of the game took a turn towards the pedestrian as County began to enjoy a little more possession, but Town were still looking the more dangerous of the two sides.

However it was the Magpies who created the best chances towards the end of the half, as first Jon Harley dispossessed Paul Caddis on the right before whipping in a dangerous cross which David Prutton cleared narrowly over his own crossbar, before Ben Burgess turned well but sliced a shot from 12 yards well wide when he might have done better.

Town finished the half on the front foot, but couldn't add a second and went into the break a goal to the good.

The hosts were again on top early on in the second half, and were agonisingly close to doubling their lead after 53 minutes, as Jonathan Douglas met a McGovern corner with a sweetly timed volley which thundered off the underside of the bar and out.

The Town skipper was cursing his luck again minutes later as he exchanged a neat one-two with Ritchie on the edge of the box before seeing his goalbound shot deflected just wide of the top corner.

Town continued to look the better of the two sides, but as the half drifted into its latter stages the visitors were looking increasingly dangerous in attack - seemingly galvanised by the introduction of talisman Lee Hughes.

And it was the controversial striker who was involved in County's equaliser, as he watched Alan Judge's cross drift across his body and into the far corner.

But if Town fans thought that would ruin what had threatened to be a fruitful afternoon, then they were in for a nasty surprise, as substitute Hughes snatched the ball from the hesitant Cuthbert 40 yards from goal, and raced through before rounding Lucas and making it 2-1.

It was a sucker punch for the hosts, and it effectively sealed the three points for Martin Allen's resurgent side, who saw the game out with relative ease as Town failed to create another clear cut chance and went down to what could prove to be a fatal defeat.

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    Data provided by Press Association