The only change came on the bench, captain Michael O’Connor returning to the squad and taking the place of youngster Alex Howes.
With sunshine beaming down on Brunton Park, the sides exchanged early half-chances. Jamie Devitt’s cross-cum-shot threatened to take a nick off a Notts man but the ball found its way safely into Adam Collin’s grasp. Moments later, Jorge Grant did well to get his head over the top of a bouncing ball as he volleyed it goalwards. The ball looped towards the top corner but Mark Gillespie was able to hold on comfortably. Stead was the next man to have a go, weaving his way through midfield before curling a left-footed effort wide, before a spell of Carlisle pressure led to Reggie Lambe bending a shot off-target. The Magpies came within inches of taking the lead on 24 minutes when Tootle reached the byline and lofted the ball to the back post for Shola Ameobi. The former Newcastle forward demonstrated terrific heading power to nod the ball back across goal and, seemingly, into the net. Carlisle’s Shaun Brisley had other ideas, however, and hacked it off the line on the volley. Carlisle’s best chance of the half came on 30 minutes when they broke quickly from a Notts corner and worked the ball to Jamie Devitt eight yards out. The former Morecambe man sent it over the angle of post and crossbar with a first-time, side-footed effort. Notts were playing well, however, and could have taken the lead seconds before the interval when the ball fell to Grant’s feet in the area. The Forest loanee could only curl it over the bar and the half ended goalless.
There were no changes for either side at the break and Notts started the second period on the front foot, Stead curling the ball wide from Grant’s cut-back seconds after the restart. And there was a big chance for Adam Campbell minutes later when Tootle’s cross dropped for him on the volley eight yards out. The wide man could only send the ball sailing over the bar. The home crowd were becoming frustrated and their mood could have been worsened by Stead on 55 minutes when he broke into the left-hand channel and tried to lob the keeper on the half-volley. The forward didn’t achieve the loft he was looking for, however, and Gillespie made a simple save. Brunton Park was given a lift by the introduction of Jason Kennedy and Ibehre in a double substitution. And it transpired to be an inspired switch as, seconds later, Ibehre lashed the ball past Collin after being played in over the top. Stead came within inches of equalising straight after the restart, switching the ball on to his left in a crowded penalty area and guiding it just wide of the post on the stretch. Nolan sent on O’Connor for Campbell in a move which saw Grant switch to the left wing and Hewitt replace him down the right. Notts were now struggling to impose their attacking threat and could have been 2-0 down when Ibehre laid the ball back for John O’Sullivan on the edge of the box. The winger dragged his shot wide of the far post. Nolan’s next change saw Marc Bola replace Carl Dickinson with 10 minutes to play and, shortly after O’Connor sliced a long-range half-volley over the bar, Tahvon Campbell came on for Milsom. And the fresh impetus may have gone some way towards helping Notts restore parity with five minutes left on the clock. Richard Duffy moved forward with the ball from centre back and angled a cross towards Grant in the area. The midfielder nodded it across goal and Brisley inadvertantly knocked the ball beyond his own keeper, leaving Stead to apply the finishing touch on the line. Notts weren’t finished there, either, as, shortly before six added minutes were indicated, they took the lead. Tootle‘s well-struck, speculative effort escaped Gillespie’s grasp and the ball snuck home at the near post. Ibehre had a golden opportunity to equalise after latching on to another bouncing ball and composing himself 12 yards out. Collin did brilliantly to smother his strike. It could have been 3-1 to Notts shortly afterwards, O’Connor sweeping the ball inches wide from the edge of the area after receiving a lay-off from Grant. But it wasn’t to matter as Notts went on to claim their fourth consecutive victory.
Carlisle United: Gillespie, Miller, Raynes, Brisley, Grainger, Liddle, Bailey, Devitt (Kennedy 57), Lambe (Ibehre 57), O’Sullivan, Proctor (Joyce 80).
Notts County: Collin, Tootle, Duffy, Hollis, Dickinson (Bola 80), Campbell A (O’Connor 67), Milsom (Campbell T 84). Grant, Hewitt, Stead, Ameobi.