Myself and Tom made a trip to Meadow Lane last night to watch the youth cup second round tie with Hartlepool United from the press box after being invited to have a look around. Whilst moonlighting in the comfy seats we got to see some impressive performances from players on both sides, before the visitors finally went through largely thanks to a controversial, re-taken penalty. Before we start, we didn't really know any players on either side, so we (well I, Tom had hurt his hand...) had to work with a teamsheet and notebook, so i'll try my best to get all the names right. The starting line-ups are below kind of in the 4-4-2 order they played.
Notts County - Liam Mitchell, Chris Marshall, Dale Huckfield, Hayden Hollis, Nathan Fox, Adam Langley, Alex Troke, Reiss Neal, Ben Whittaker, Lewis Williamson, Chris Langham
Subs - Jamie O'Connell, Mason Rowley, Lewis Chambers, George Nicholas, Curtis Thompson
Hartlepool United - Grant Herbery, Dylan Pervis, Jordan Richards, Paul Johnson, Jacob Dukes, Chay Liddle, Tom Moran, Callum Martin, Billy Blackford, Anthony Wakefield, Daniel Johnson
Subs - Jordan Mellish, Joshua Rowbotham, Steven Snaith, Callum Wilson, Liam Mooney
Hartlepool United, favourites to go through to face Sheffield United having already beaten Notts 3-0 in the league, kicked off and immediately applied some pressure to the Notts goal, but Hayden Hollis put a good tackle in the for the Magpies giving the visitors the first corner, which came to nothing. Hartlepool, in their bright orange away kit, looked dangerous early on and nearly took the lead on four minutes. A looping cross from Chay Liddle wasn't dealt with by the Magpies' defence and Daniel Johnson's looping header had Liam Mitchell beaten, but it cannoned back off the bar and was scrambled away. The pressure continued though and Johnson came close again, volleying wide at the far post when he should've given Pools the lead.
Having survived these early scares Notts started to feel their way into the game and a wonderful touch from Lewis Williamson allowed him a strike at goal from 30 yards, but he failed to test Grant Herbert. The Magpies were trying to pass the ball nicely, but weren't always confident in possession and Anthony Wakefield was presented the ball by Chris Marshall, but the Notts 'keeper raced out to smother the ball at the big striker's feet. For the first time Alex Troke managed to work the ball wide to Adam Langley and he skinned his man down the right flank, but his cross was blocked away to give Notts their first corner, which came to nothing.
After an exciting start United felt they should've had a penalty when Marshall appeared to bundle over his man, but the referee waved away the appeals. The visitors still looked most likely to score and Mitchell had to make his first save when Johnson had a well struck shot from inside the box for the visitors. Chris Langham had been quiet upfront for Notts, but he sprung to life after around half an hour. Firstly he turned his man and fired over the bar and then he had the ball in the net for Notts. Lewis Williamson played a perfectly weighted ball through for Langham, who calmly slotted it past Herbert, only for the goal to be ruled out by a dubious offside decision.
Notts were forced into a subtitution soon after when Dale Huckfield was taken off to be replaced by George Nicholas. The half ended with two long range efforts, Daniel Johnson forcing Mitchell into a save and Ben Whittaker firing narrowly wide for the Magpies. The second half started as the first ended, with Hartlepool looking more likely. Johnson turned and had a good strike well held by Mitchell, whilst the dangerous Anthony Wakefield who created a chance for himself but couldn't keep his effort down. Langley still looked dangerous for Notts though and his run and cross saw Whittaker turn the ball wide at the far post.
The Magpies always looked likely to make mistakes though and United should've been infront after George Nicholas presented the ball to Johnson. The Hartlepool striker was clean through but couldn't keep his cool and fired the ball harmlessly over the bar. A poor two minutes was Nicholas was completed when he was booked for a cynical challenge. Lewis Williamson showed good pace for Notts but had his shot charged down, before the moment that swung the match occured. The ball was given away and Wakefield found himself in on goal, taking it past Mitchell who brought him down to give the visitors a penalty. Daniel Johnson stepped up, but saw his left footed strike saved by Mitchell, only for the linesman to award a re-take due to Mitchell being off his line, much to the disgust of the Notts team. Chay Liddle made no mistake from the second attempt and Hartlepool had the goal they probably deserved.
Steven Snaith and Josh Rowbotham came on for the visitors, but Reiss Neal nearly levelled up straight away as he volleyed inches wide from the edge of the box. Callum Martin limped off for the visitors, but Notts were tiring and Callum Wilson headed home to seal the win seconds after coming on, with the goal oweing much to the hard work and skill of Billy Blackford. The match fizzled out after this, with Hartlepool going through, but Notts can be proud of their efforts. Left back Nathan Fox really impressed with his composure on the ball, as did Alex Troke in midfield. For the visitors, Anthony Wakefield looked likely a dangerous target man in the making, whilst Blackford's pace and skill was a constant thorn in Notts' side.