County stage dramatic fightback

Notts County preserved their unbeaten home record under manager Kevin Nolan as two stoppage time goals snatched a point against 10-man Exeter.

The Magpies had looked on course for defeat when David Wheeler struck in the first half following a mistake by Thierry Audel.

Jake Taylor was sent off for a second bookable offence late on before Richard Duffy smacked the bar with a 25-yard drive.

Ryan Harley then gave Exeter a 2-0 lead in the 88th minute to seemingly give the visitors the points.

But up popped Duffy to nod in Rob Milsom's free-kick before Jorge Grant's shot was turned in by Jordan Moore-Taylor to snatch a point for the Magpies.

Boss Nolan would have been delighted by the fightback as he now prepares for a crucial game against Leyton Orient on Saturday.

He made just one change to his team which was so impressive against Cheltenham as Alan Smith was recalled to partner Jon Stead up front.


It meant Shola Ameobi had to make do with a place on the substitutes' bench with the striker still working to improve his match fitness.

Nolan would have hoped that Smith's ability with his back to goal would unsettle an Exeter team that arrived at Meadow Lane with the best away record in the country.


Paul Tisdale's side had won 10 times on the road this term which has proven a solid foundation for them to mount a serious promotion challenge.

Although beaten 3-0 by Plymouth at the weekend, Exeter certainly showed no signs that such a convincing derby defeat had affected their confidence.

Lloyd James, 20 yards from goal, tried his luck with a free-kick that wrong-footed Adam Collin, but was narrowly off target.

It wasn't long before he was having another go from distance after Audel was penalised for a foul which drew groans from the home fans who believed it was a soft decision.

James took a few steps back to launch himself at the set-piece, but it was poorly executed and Collin gathered easily.


Notts were soon trying to breach the visitors' defence, when a lovely piece of skill from Curtis Thompson took him past the challenge of Woodman.

It was crying out for a decent cross, but unfortunately the midfielder sliced his straight into the arms of Christy Pym.

Both defences were on top and you sensed that it would take a mistake or a piece of magic to open the game up.


Unfortunately for Notts fans it was their side on the receiving end when Audel misjudged a clearance and it allowed Wheeler in on goal.

The winger still had work to do, but he steadied himself before rifling a cool finish past Collin to give the visitors the advantage.

The goal had given Exeter a lift and they continued to press for a second before half-time.


Wheeler got the better of Marc Bola to produce a low cross which Reuben Reid tried to flick past Collin before it was scrambled away.

Gradually Notts began to regain their senses as they looked for a route back into the game but the lack of punch meant Pym was untroubled.

Nolan would have no doubt contemplated changes at the break to try to find an equaliser but the change which arrived didn't come at the top end of the pitch.


Instead it came in defence, with Audel replaced by Josh Clackstone who made his first appearance since arriving on loan from Hull.

Notts certainly came out with intent as Stead tried his luck from 20 yards before Michael O'Connor did the same, but Pym made comfortable saves each time.

Exeter soon summoned a response when a cross to the back post picked out Ollie Watkins who cut onto his right foot, but Collin denied him with a fabulous save to keep his side in the game.

Nolan soon made a double change with Grant and Ameobi sent on from the bench to replace Mark Yeates and Smith in the hope of securing an equaliser.

Ameobi made his presence immediately felt when he met O'Connor's free-kick which drew an excellent stop from Pym.

Exeter were being pushed onto the back foot but in Watkins they certainly had an outlet capable of causing real damage.

A blistering turn of pace saw him ghost past Elliott Hewitt only for his low cross to fizz right along the six-yard box when any touch would have taken it past Collin.

Notts were not short of endeavour in trying to create openings and O'Connor was given a free-kick 20 yards from goal which he got over the wall but it landed on the roof of the net.

Notts were being roared on by the Kop and their cause was given a helping hand in the last 10 minutes when Taylor was shown a second yellow card.

With the clock ticking down, Notts poured forward and they almost had an unlikely hero in Duffy who unleashed a shot from 25 yards which cannoned off the woodwork.

But despite being in the ascendancy, Exeter broke through Liam McAlinden whose drive was pushed away by Collin.

Harley was left free at the back post and he guided the ball over the line to make it 2-0.

There was still time for Notts to pull a goal back, however, when Duffy scored his second goal in a matter of days.

Notts were urged to go forward again and they rescued a point when O'Connor slipped a lovely ball into Grant whose shot was turned past his own goalkeeper by Moore-Taylor.