The Paul Ince era at Meadow Lane once again failed to cough into life at the weekend as the Magpies were beaten 1-0 by Tranmere Rovers in a tepid ninety minutes. The news that Lee Hughes was to miss out through illness provided the first blow for Notts pre-match, whilst Stephen Hunt also returned to the side in place of the suspended Jon Harley. Craig Westcarr made his first start after a groin injury, partnering Tom Ince upfront leaving Notts without a recognised striker in the starting line up.
It was the hosts who started brightest though and dominated the match from the first whistle. Neal Bishop was the first to try his luck, driving a long range effort wide after a half clearance from the Rovers defence. A robust visiting were giving away a number of fouls early on and one of these led to Ben Davies firing a free kick inches over the crossbar with Peter Gulacsi well beaten. Alan Judge was tormenting the Tranmere left back early on and after being scythed down and drawing a booking he continued to attack his marker and fired a dangerous cross that no Notts player could make contact with. The lively Judge then fired a shot wide before Davies let fly from long range, forcing Gulacsi into a smart save low to his right.
An almost identical effort from Davies soon followed and this time the on loan Liverpool 'keeper was beaten, but the ball flashed just wide of the post. The other key talking point of the first half involved Judge's tussle with Zoumana Bakayogo, who Notts felt should've been given a second yellow after once again clattering the on loan Blackburn winger. The referee let him off but Rovers manager Les Parry wasn't so forgiving, hauling him off for Aaron Cresswell. For all Notts' domination they went into the break on level terms and were soon made to pay for their profligacy as the visitors struck with their first shot of any kind. Ian Thomas-Moore broke down the swathes of space on the right flank that Stephen Hunt really should've been occupying and crossed for Enoch Showunmi, who fired home after some pinball in the box.
The game resumed it's previous pattern after this set back with Notts knocking on the door but not really threatening to break it down. Ince had the next effort for Notts, volleying wide after a corner was half cleared to him on the penalty spot and he had another almost identical effort blocked moments later. Mike Edwards missed the most glaring chance of the game however, as Judge clipped in a beautiful cross to the far post Edwards somehow contrived to head wide when unmarked three yards out. The lively Judge was then inexplicably hauled off by Ince before Notts gained a numerical advantage they probably should've had in the first half. Joss Labadie tangled with Ricky Ravenhill and his stray elbow was deserving of a red card according to the referee. Westcarr was then withdrawn for Luke Rodgers as Notts continued to press, with a Davies cross finding Darby unmarked at the far post but he couldn't force the ball home from close range. Debutant Lee Miller then missed the final chance for the hapless Notts as he tamely headed straight at Gulacsi from five yards after another delightful cross into the box.
Notts County 0
Tranmere Rovers 1 (Showunmi '50)
Notts Co - Burch, Darby (Hawley), Chilvers, Edwards, Hunt, Judge (Miller), Ravenhill, Bishop, Davies, Ince, Westcarr (Rodgers)
Tranmere Rvs - Gulacsi, Cathalina, Goodison, Blanchard, Bakayogo (Cresswell), Labadie, Welsh, Mendy, Jennings, Thomas-Moore, Showunmi (Akins)