Notts derail the Alex

Notts County extended their unbeaten run and ended a sequence of three consecutive draws in League Two with a 2-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra at Meadow Lane, although the Magpies weren't fully convincing in victory over Dario Gradi's struggling side. Luke Rodgers continued his good form by notching the opener and Craig Westcarr fired in a fantastic second goal to score his third goal in four games before Kasper Schmeichel saved a penalty harshly awarded against John Thompson.

Caretaker bosses Michael Johnson and Dave Kevan sprung a surprise by lining up with Johnnie Jackson and Ben Davies together in central midfield for the first time in an attacking Notts line-up, but Brendan Moloney was unable to recover from an injury sustained on international duty in time to play. For the visitors, Clayton Donaldson returned from a knock but top scorer Calvin Zola was ruled out of the match with injury. It was the Railwaymen who got out of the blocks quickest and Donaldson underlined his threat with an early effort, fizzing a low, left footed shot just past Kasper Schmeichel's far post from fully thirty yards inside two minutes. Infact, Crewe dominated possession in the early stages but failed to test Kasper Schmeichel before Notts started to get a grip on the match.

A short corner to Craig Westcarr caused havoc in the Crewe defence as the winger smashed the ball goalwards, with a Crewe defender clearing it as far as Lee Hughes, who saw a scuffed shot saved by John Button before Westcarr's close range effort was deflected onto the bar off a defender, as the visitors survived a classic goalmouth scramble. The Magpies didn't have to wait too long for the lead, however, as Luke Rodgers struck his fifth goal of the season and first at Meadow Lane. Indecision by Patrick Ada in the Crewe defence saw the ball break to Johnnie Jackson, who slid a perfect pass through to Luke Rodgers who took a touch before firing the ball into the top corner with his left foot. It was a fine finish from Rodgers who appears to be finding his touch infront of goal after a barren spell at the start of the campaign.

The first half still didn't liven up full though and Crewe were unlucky not to level just before the break. The lively Joel Grant turned away from Mike Edwards and found himself baring down on Kasper Schmeichel, but the Notts 'keeper made himself big and blocked Grant's low effort allowing Graeme Lee to clear. John Brayford nearly signed for Derby County in the summer and it was clear why, as he looked by far the visitors' best player. He also came close to levelling before the break after a neat one two on the edge of the box, but Edwards got across quickly to block the right back's shot. As the half time whistle was blown, Notts went into the dressing rooms ahead but had been unimpressive and the visitors could count themselves unlucky not to be on level terms.

The Railwaymen also came out of the traps quicker in the second half and Grant once again tested Schmeichel, forcing the Dane to tip the ball over his bar after a fierce strike. Notts took control after this though and Rodgers had his second goal in a week ruled off dubiously for offside after Lee Hughes volleyed the ball across goal with his left foot and Rodgers tapped the ball into the empty net. It seemed like Rodgers may have been behind the ball when it was played and it denied Notts the killer second goal. This livened up the Magpies though and Matt Ritchie should've sealed the win moments later. Rodgers jinked past the Crewe defence and dinked a cross in which deflected to Ritchie, but he inexplicably put his diving header past the post from close range.

The Magpies stayed on the attacking though and Westcarr, who had been anonymous since the first half, scored a wonderful second goal to seal the three points. He ran at the Crewe defence and slipped past two defenders before unleashing a low shot into the bottom corner which gave David Button no chance. This was the signal for Lee Hughes and Rodgers to be withdrawn to give Karl Hawley and Ade Akinbiyi a chance to impress, but Crewe would soon get a golden chance to bring themselves back into the match. An overhit cross from the left frank appeared to be evading Grant, who nudged into Notts defender John Thompson. The referee surprised just about everybody in the crowd by pointing to the spot, but justice was probably done as Kasper Schmeichel flung himself to his right to palm away Steven Schumacher's spot kick, much to the delight of the Meadow Lane crowd. The match fizzled out after this but Notts comfortably held onto the three points which took them fourth in League Two.

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

Notts County 2 (Rodgers '28, Westcarr '66)
Crewe Alexandra 0
Attendance - 6,545 (477)