I have to admit to having a soft spot for Cheltenham Town, so ideally I wanted Notts to win and Cheltenham to stay up – but that wasn’t going to happen.
Ian Richardson had to be left out because he was recovering from whiplash sustained in a car accident on Thursday night. Danny Allsopp replaced Richardson and Simon Ramsden came into the team to take the place of Pat McCarthy who returned to Manchester City.
As promised Dearden named 4 youth team players on the bench in the shape of Danny Bostock, Shane McFaul, Willis Francis and Shaun Harrad, however only Willis Francis who scored the winner in the Youth Cup final on Monday night got a taste of the action.
Danny Allsopp’s shot went wide before John Finnigan and ex-Notts player Grant McCann registered shots off target.
Cheltenham seemed to be having shots from anywhere in the hope that one would find the back of the net and ease the nerves of the 2,431 travelling Robins fans, who sang throughout the game. Mark Yates’s header cannoned off the underside of the crossbar but unfortunately for Town it didn’t end up in the net.
Paul Heffernan found himself in the box after Darren Caskey had fed him the ball. The Irish striker volleyed a shot but it bobbled wide of the post.
Tony Naylor, one of the Robin’s better players, had another unsuccessful attempt on goal minutes later.
Later in the half Naylor had another chance to open the scoring but Saul Deeney had to be alert to claim the ball at the feet of the Manchester-born forward after Craig Ireland’s back header lacked the power to get to the Notts keeper.
It was inevitable that one team had to take the lead after all the chances that had been made, and unsuccessfully taken at both ends.
HALF TIME: 1-0
It was more of the same in the second half. The play was still high tempo and Cheltenham probably had the early chances but tired towards the end, as it became more and more likely that they would face the drop to the third division.
Saul Deeney made two good saves from Finnigan and Naylor, the second a one-on-one attempt.
Deeney was then part of an attacking, route one effort for the home side but Stallard volleyed wide. The Magpie’s top scorer was having ‘one of those days’ in front of goal, where nothing would fall right for him. He was taken off on 83 minutes to a standing ovation from the 3 home stands of Meadow Lane and was replaced by Willis Francis.
Yates struck the woodwork again (but this time it was the post!) as Cheltenham searched for a lifeline.
FULL TIME: 1-0
Despite tannoy announcements to keep off the pitch at full time, the Notts fans spilled on to the pitch to applaud both sets of players off the field.
The Notts players then emerged on the Main Stand balcony, and the Fans showed their appreciation after completing another rocky season.
Before I finish the final match report of the season I would just like to say to any Cheltenham fans reading this you were a credit to your club and your town today. You never stopped singing and cheering your team on, even when you knew that realistically there was no way back. Carry that support on next year and you will be back in this division before you know it. It was brilliant to see all the Notts fans go over to clap you at the end, you deserved it. But at the end of the day, four teams have to down and you happened to be one of them this season. I wish you Good Luck for next season (and beyond!) and I hope to see you back at Meadow Lane in the near future!
As for Notts, well, we can start to look forward to next season with more optimism than we have for some weeks (and even months!). Hopefully, if and when things get finalised with the take-over, we will be able to rebuild and not have a third successive fight for survival.
See you all next season!