MATCH REPORT – Notts County 2-0 City

City bowed out of the Worthington Cup at Meadow Lane, but they put in a creditable performance against higher division opposition, only succumbing to defeat deep into extra time. After their spineless effort against Cheltenham on Saturday, this was a much-improved performance by City, who had to field 7 recognised defenders due to injuries and absences. The Tigers played with a containment strategy and the first half was largely formless, with neither side able to claim superiority, and chances at a premium.

The second half was much the same, and City were heading towards victory when a hideously clumsly tackle from Whitney gave the home side a penalty, which Stallard converted. The goal tilted the balance towards County, who had chances to secure the tie in normal time. However, the Tigers grimly hung on to force extra-time.

The game became somewhat open during the extra thirty minutes, with Marcelle looking particularly dangerous, and he struck the bar from twenty yards after a superb run down the right wing. Sadly, with just two minutes left, County attacked, and a shot from close range fell to Bracey. He appeared to have gathered the ball, but it was stabbed from his grasp, and in the ensuing melee Stallard poked home to secure a rather undeserved second goal.

REPORT: Torquay 1-1 City

Referee Scott Mathieson decided City were not deserving of all three points, handing bottom club Torquay a share of the spoils with a harsh last minute penalty. After a goalless first half, Andy Holt put the Tigers ahead in the 79th minute, heading home from a Brabin through ball. It all went sour for the on-loan Oldham defender, he was adjudged to have handballed in the area in injury time and Richard Kell scored from the spot to equalise. Seconds before Holt’s touch, Gull’s midfilder Rees deliberately handled before providing a cross that struck Holt, however the Stockport official spotted only the second offence and pointed to the spot.

Brian Little was none too chuffed, noting: “Rees deliberately handled and the referee was in the best position to see it. Yet five seconds later he has given them a penalty and its taken him three seconds to make his mind up and blow the whistle. It was a bad decision.” Even Torquay’s caretaker boss Colin Lee implied the Tigers appeals against the penalty had foundation: “The dispute was whether Jason Rees handled it just before then. Maybe the referee was unsighted – who knows? But that might have been the bit of luck we needed.” City started with David Brown and Kevin Francis up front in the absence of Rodney Rowe, though Francis made way in the second half when Little paired Gary Fletcher and John Eyre together.

The draw didn’t damage our play-off charge too much, of the teams scrapping for a top seven finish only Scunthorpe, visitors to the Ark next week, won, seeing off Barnet 2-1 at home. Southend drew 1-1 away to Chesterfield, Leyton Orient did the same at Darlington, while Blackpool surprisingly went down 2-0 at Exeter. The Tigers remain in seventh place, level on 59 points with Blackpool in sixth, two points behind Leyton Orient in fifth.

The Tigers:
Musselwhite, Whittle, Holt, Atkins, Brabin, Matthews, Edwards, Philpott, Mann
(Eyre 46), Brown, Francis (Fletcher 46)