Kevin Nolan made four changes to the team that faced Crewe in midweek. Front pairing Shola Ameobi and Jon Stead returned to the starting 11, while there were also recalls for Jorge Grant and former United man Shaun Brisley. Elliott Hewitt retained his place but moved into midfield alongside Yates, with Rob Milsom joining Liam Walker, Lewis Alessandra and Jonathan Forte having to settle for a place on the bench.
Notts nearly had the dream start when Carlisle gifted them possession in midfield and Ameobi’s clever flick rolled the ball into Yates’ path on the edge of the area. There wasn’t quite enough pace on the ball, however, and the on-loan midfielder’s shot was diverted wide by a sprawling Mike Jones. Carlisle’s response came from Tom Miller, whose close-range effort was brilliantly saved by Ross Fitzsimons, before Brisley’s goalbound header was blocked moments later at the other end. Notts were well in the game and had a good chance to snatch the lead when Stead’s floated cross to the back post picked out Grant in time and space. With the angle against him, however, Grant could only side-foot the ball wide on the volley. But it was also proving to be a busy start for Fitzsimons, who was called into important action once more on 17 minutes, making an excellent double-save to deny Hope then Reggie Lambe. The game was on a knife edge and Notts almost cut the tension in unorthodox style when Terry Hawkridge wriggled his way into space down the right before seeing his fierce low cross strike the near post, deflect off United keeper Jack Bonham and away to safety. And Carlisle capitalised on their good fortune by taking the lead moments later, Hope bundling the ball home after Notts had failed to clear Nicky Adams’ cross. Grant and Ameobi saw shots blocked on the edge of the box and a Carl Dickinson corner came to nothing as the clock ticked down towards half-time. Shortly after one minute of added time was indicated, Matt Tootle’s late run into the box was well spotted by Stead, who laid the ball off for the full-back to send the ball goalwards with a first-time effort. Bonham was equal to it, however, making the save and preserving the hosts’ slender lead going into the break.
The sides reemerged unchanged and Notts quickly resumed their pursuit of an equaliser, Brisley hooking the ball a yard wide and Grant bending a 25-yard effort off-target shortly after the restart. But the Magpies didn’t have to wait much longer for their goal. Hawkridge played Matt Tootle to the byline with a beautifully angled pass and the full back’s cut-back bypassed Ameobi to present Yates with a simple finish beyond the stranded Bonham. A flurry of Carlisle half-chances came and went before Ameobi came within inches of completing Notts’ turnaround with 16 minutes to go. The ball was returned to Grant by Hawkridge after his corner had been half-cleared and the Forest loanee curled it back into the middle. Ameobi rose highest, crashing the ball off the base of the post with a header. Nolan’s first change followed shortly afterwards, Alessandra replacing Stead, and the substitute so nearly had a golden opportunity to fire Notts ahead when he raced through one-on-one with Bonham. Former Magpie Gary Liddle did brilliantly to make a last-ditch tackle. Notts continued to press and Ameobi was unfortunate to see his instinctive header from Tootle’s cross sail over the bar. United sub Richie Bennett fired a long-range effort narrowly over the crossbar as the hosts reminded Notts of their own threat, shortly before Nolan sent on Alan Smith in place of Ameobi. Miller went into the book for a foul on Tootle shortly before three minutes of added time were indicated, presenting Notts with a free-kick in a dangerous crossing position. Grant whipped the ball into the middle and Yates could only send it wide with a diving header. There was still time for Nicky Hunt to replace Tootle, who was hobbling a little following Miller’s earlier challenge. But 1-1 was how it stayed as both sides had to settle for a point in Cumbria.
Carlisle United: Bonham, Brown, Liddle, Hill, Miller, Lambe, Jones, Devitt (Rigg 79), Joyce, Adams, Hope (Bennett 64).
Notts County: Fitzsimons, Tootle (Hunt 93), Duffy, Brisley, Dickinson, Hawkridge, Hewitt, Yates, Grant, Ameobi (Snmith 89), Stead (Alessandra 79).