Sterling second half seals success for Magpies

All of the Magpies goals came in the second period, after an abject first half display left them 1-0 down at the interval - and on the end of a verbal backlash from manager Gudjon Thordarson.

It was during the half-time break though, that the game's turning point was to take place. Darlington stopper David Knight had to be withdrawn with injury and, with no recognised goalkeeper amongst their substitutes, veteran midfielder Phil Stamp was forced to keep goal for the entire second half for the Quakers.

Up until that point, Dave Hodgson's side had been in complete control, with a debut goal from Kyle Lafferty the least their football in the first half deserved.

Baudet: Penalty king
The Magpies, by contrast, were struggling to find any sort of rhythm to their play. Thordarson's side barely tested Knight, despite the keeper sustaining his injury 15 minutes before the half was over.

The appearence of the tubby figure of Stamp between the sticks for the second half - coupled with some harsh words from their manager - seemed to revitalise the Magpies though, who went on to give a much-improved second half display.

By the time Julien Baudet slotted home Notts' third goal of the game from the penalty spot after Liam Needham had been felled, the woes of the first half seemed a world away, as the very sparse home support enjoyed their third successive home victory.

But, before the introduction of the unfortunate Stamp, things were so different.

After a further tug-of-war session behind the scenes in the week, the players appeared to have the weight of the world on their shoulders during the first period.

Though Darlington have had a similar season to the Magpies, the hosts were thoroughly out-played by the visitors, whose neat, fluent passing was in sharp contrast to Notts' long-ball style of play.

The Magpies' only real threat was from set-pieces, so it was ironic when the Quaker's deserved opening goal came from a Carlos Logan corner. Logan's inswinger was met on the volley by completely unmarked Lafferty, who swept the ball past Kevin Pilkington.

The home team left the field at half-time to mild booing, but they were to deliver a far superior performance for the second 45 minutes, against a team whose confidence looked shot by their unexpected loss.

Stamp - mercilessly heckled by Z Block throughout his time between the sticks - was trying his best to adapt to his unexpected new role, but the stand-in's first real task was to pick the ball out from the back of the net.

A delightful crossfield pass by David Pipe sent Needham scampering into the penalty area, where the midfielder delivered an excellent low cross-shot that was tapped over the line by the figure of Scoffham, who had only appeared from the bench moments earlier.

The substitution of Scoffham in-place of Jake Sheridan had been greeted with farcial booes from the home faithful - presumably because it was again the yonugster, not the much-heckled Andy White to make way - but it was clear that Sheridan was carrying an injury.

Whatever the details, Scoffham was clearly delighted to net only his second goal of his stop-start campaign.

Wilson: The new Alan Shearer?
It wasn't just the appearence of a midfielder in goal that made this game somewhat bizarre to watch. Immediately after Notts had netted their equaliser, Thordarson opted to throw star defender Kelvin Wilson on in attack in-place of White.

The Icelander's decision seemed strange, particularly after the non-contract signing of Mark DeBolla in the week, but Wilson's presence upfront added an air of unpredictability to procedings.

Brilliantly, the visitors matched the Magpies in this bold move, throwing their giant centre back Matt Clarke up into their own struggling strike force.

Despite the Magpies slowly gaining a foothold in the game - with Wilson coming close with a soaring 25-yard volley - they had to wait until the 82nd minute before they would take the lead for the first time.

Dan Martin shot went threw a defenders legs and past the static figure of Stamp to give Notts the advantage and the delighted young defender his second goal inside a week.

This was the Magpies' cue to relax a little bit, with the final stages seeing the home side play their best football of the entire game.

Good skill from Wilson forced Stamp into his only save, but it was Needham who was again the provider as he was clearly tripped in the penalty area after latching onto a throughball from Lewis McMahon.

Baudet produced one of the worst penalty's seen but somehow still managed to score from the spot.

Logan - Darlington's outstanding player - netted a late free-kick that took a huge deflection off Pipe, but the job was already done for Thordarson and his team, who are now sat 8th in the League Two table.

Now, who said we need new players?

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