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15:24 15th February 2012

Notts County 2 Exeter City 1

Paul Tisdale made one change from the side that disposed of Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, John O'Flynn coming in for Jake Taylor. In terms of shape and system it was as you were with a back four, three in midfield and O'Flynn slotting in upfront with Dan Nardiello and Guillem Bauza.

They had the backing of 200 hardy fans on the far side of the stand who, complete with Stansfield giant shirt, were in good voice as the game kicked off in positively balmy conditions after last week's trip to Bournemouth.

Nardiello was the first player to try his luck on the five minute mark. After James Dunne knocked the ball into his path the Welshman fizzed a shot that stun the palms of keeper Stuart Nelson.

Just seconds later the home side missed a guilt-edged chance to take the lead when Lee Hughes was clean through and uncharacteristically fired wide when very well placed.

But he made no mistake on eight minutes to fire the home side infront. Krysiak, so impressive on Saturday, lost his footing with the ball at his feet and could only look on from the Meadow Lane turf as the former West Brom striker rolled home the easiest of finishes from close range. On a day for giving and receiving presents it was the dream Valentines Day gift for County's number nine.

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City then forced a pair of corners, the first of which Scot Bennett tried to meet at the back post but his marker did enough to deflect the ball behind. The second delivery on 14 minutes was inch perfect from Jones, this time to the near post, and Bennett timed his run perfectly before rising to flick a fine header past Nelson for his second City goal.

City then carved out a great chance to take the lead. Tully's cross found O'Flynn who laid the ball off to Bauza but his low strike flew just past the post.

The frantic start to an extremely open first half continued and the counter attack from the City chance led to the third goal on 28 minutes .

Jon Harley was able to speed past Troy and get goalside down the left-hand flank and, in an incident almost identical to the first spot-kick awarded at Leyton Orient earlier this season, the former Spurs defender conceded a penalty. Referee Mark Brown pointed straight to the spot and the City faithful could have little complaints. Up stepped Jeff Hughes to roll a low penalty into Artur's left-hand corner with the keeper going the other way.

The linesman's flag then let Artur ff the hook after Alan Judge's effort squirmed through him and into the back of the net.

Lee Hughes was the next to threaten as he rose to meet Kieron Freeman's right-footed cross but after leaping above Artur his header landed on top of the net.

Noble then found his way into the referee's notebook for a late tackle on Harley. Lee Hughes then headed wide again when found by another Freeman cross from the right hand flank.

Noble, buoyed by his long-range winner on Saturday, then tried his luck with an effort from a similar range which whistled wide, City's last chance before the referee's whistle put an end to a half which had flown by.

City's first real chance of the second half came just two minutes in when, following a good move from front to back, Bauza scuffed Jones' fine left-footed cross wide. Tis was then out of his technical area appealing for a penalty after Nardiello seemed to be tripped inside the box five minutes later.

On 55 minutes Tisdale made his first change of the match as he introduced Richard Logan, an unused substitute on the weekend, for Bauza. And then three minutes later sent on Richard Duffy for Tully.

And the two subs combined shortly afterwards, Duffy's curling right footed cross fell at the feet of Logan inside a packed box but he couldn't get a shot away. City were certainly enjoying this spell after half-time and were looking the stronger side as they looked for the two goals that would give them back to back wins for the first time since October.

The third and final sub took place on 63 minutes and saw Noble, walking a disciplinary tightrope after his booking, replaced by Liam Sercombe.

A great tackle from Freeman than denied Dunne on 67 minutes as the midfielder bombed forward at pace after swapping passes with Nardiello. Sercombe then fired over the bar after a good move involving Logan, Nardiello and Jones. Nardiello then had appeals for a penalty waved away infront of the angry away fans.The striker was incensed a spot-kick wasn't given for Neal Bishop's challenge.

City continued to threaten and Jones' superb lofted balls made sure Logan and O'Flynn were keeping the Notts defence on their toes. And it was O'Flynn who carved out the next chance on 77 minutes as he got to the byline and pulled a ball back that the incoming Nardiello fired wide.

The Grecians were then denied by a superb star-jump save by Nelson to keep the score at 2-1 with eight minutes to go. Jones sent in a perfect cross that Nardiello met with a first time volley but the keeper was up to it.

Nardiello then put the loose ball in the back of the net with his hand, something referee Brown spotted instant Nardiello then put the ball in the back of the net with his hand, something referee Brown spotted instantly and he showed City's number 10 a yellow card.

The away side continued to press as the game moved into the six minutes added on and they carved out a fantastic chance to salvage a point on 91 minutes when Jones' cross was flicked on by O'Flynn but Logan's header floated past the far post. Two minutes later Jones lashed a long range effort well wide and that was to be the last chance of a second half bossed by Tisdale's troops.

There were plenty of positives in the second half including the amount of chances created, on another day the match could have been 5-5. Scot Bennett and Billy Jones in particular had fantastic games and the latter in particular has been superb since Scott Golbourne headed to Yorkshire.

Bury are the visitors to The Park on Saturday and if City can start that game like they ended this one then they'll fancy their chances against Richie Barker's men.

Pete Evans

    Data provided by Press Association