Notts backe to drawing ways

Hans Backe's first game in charge of Notts County ended with a battling point at home to Shrewsbury Town, with the Magpies having to thank a late Graeme Lee diving header to keep their unbeaten home record in tact. Jamie Devitt had early opened the scoring on his Shrewsbury Town debut with a calm finish from inside the penalty area. Backe opted to start with the same line-up that had defeated Crewe Alexandra the previous week, with Johnnie Jackson partnering Ben Davies in the centre of midfield and Craig Westcarr keeping his place on the right wing. For the Shrews, Dave Hibbert started upfront but Jake Robinson was only fit enough to take a place on the bench.

The match started at a breakneck pace, although it was the visitors who carved out the best early chances. Right back Dean Holden had an effort from long range and Dave Hibbert got a header in on goal, but both failed to warm the gloves of Notts 'keeper Kasper Schmeichel. At the other end, the Kop was in uproar as the referee waved away a penalty appeal by Luke Rodgers. Jackon's lofted through ball played Rodgers in and he appeared to be felled by a clumsy challenge from Graham Couglan, but the referee opted not to point to the spot.

Rodgers was to register an effort soon after though, when he was played through by Craig Westcarr. The winger slid the ball through for Rodgers who took a touch but was forced wide and could only blast his shot harmlessly over Steve Phillips' crossbar. Westcarr himself registered the game's first shot on target, but his harmless long range strike was comfortably saved by Phillips. The Shrews were able to carve out the best chance after this however as youngster Jamie Devitt, on loan from Hull City, forced in a cross that was helped on by Dave Hibbert. Former Notts loanee Lewis Neal connected at the far post but Kasper Schmeichel was equal to the left winger's stinging drive.

The visitors didn't have to wait long to open the scoring though and this time Devitt found himself in the box to notch a goal half an hour into his Shrewsbury debut. Neal whipped in a cross which deflected on it's way to Devitt, who calmly swept the ball past Schmeichel and into the bottom corner to send the 1,000 strong away support delirious. This was the cue for an early change from Backe, who was clearly frustrated with the way Notts were being dominated in the centre of the park. Craig Westcarr was withdrawn, much to his frustration, to be replaced by combative midfielder Neal Bishop.

This seemed to help as Notts got stuck in more towards the end of the half, with Lee Hughes clipping in a dangerous far post cross, but the Magpies failed to create anything clear cut before the break. After the interval Notts came out with more attacking intent, however and Luke Rodgers tested Phillips for the first time in the match. Neat play saw Jackson lay off Rodgers who's fierce shot was tipped over the bar by the Bristol Rovers loanee, denying Notts' little striker a goal against the club where he made his name.

This seemed to give Notts more attacking impetus and twice leading scorer Lee Hughes came close to ending his goal drought. A deep Ben Davies free kick was nodded back across goal by Hughes, which nearly saw a Shrewsbury defender turn through his own net. Former Shrewsbury man Davies was again at the heart of the next move, with his cross being swept goalwards by Hughes, but Phillips made a smart save down low to his left. Possibly the key moment of the match followed as the Shrews made a rapid break down field. Dean Holden knocked the ball into substitute Jake Robinson, who fired at goal, forcing Schmeichel into a diving stop. The ball fell to Dave Hibbert, who seemed certain to find the net, but his low effort was cleared off the line by Graeme Lee before he fluffed the rebound.

Luke Rodgers and Ade Akinbiyi both had half chances for the Magpies before Lee was once again Meadow Lane's hero. Shrewsbury dropped deep into the box and the ball fell to Luke Rodgers on the corner of the box, he was given space to dink a teasing cross to the far post, where Lee found acres of space to plant a diving header past Phillips and into the net. This sparked rapturous scenes at Meadow Lane, but not amongst the players who rushed back to try and find a winner. Johnnie Jackson came close with a stinging volley that was hacked away by Coughlan, before Nathan Elder nearly connected with a deep cross, but Schmeichel was able to punch the ball away just before he connected with it.

Notts Co - Schmeichel, Thompson, Lee, Edwards, Jones, Westcarr (Bishop), Jackson, Davies, Ritchie (Akinbiyi), Hughes, Rodgers

Notts County 1 (Lee '85)
Shrewsbury Town 1 (Devitt '30)
Attendance - 7,562 (1,046 Shrewsbury fans)