Ross Fitzsimons continued in goal, shielded once more by centre backs Elliott Ward (who was given the captain’s armband) and Shaun Brisley. Rob Milsom filled in for the absent Andy Kellett at left back, while Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain hung on to the right-back slot to make his league debut. David Vaughan was recalled to central midfield where he paired up with Elliott Hewitt, while Nathan Thomas was deemed fit to start on the opposite flank to right-winger Boldewijn. Kristian Dennis partnered Kane Hemmings up front.
Notts nearly took the lead with the game’s first chance, Thomas darting into the area on nine minutes and sending a low shot just wide of Chrstie Pym’s far post. Shortly afterwards, the keeper made a comfortable save from Kristian Dennis’ speculative long-range effort. Thomas’ name went into the book on 15 minutes after the winger caught Sweeney with a mistimed sliding tackle. Minutes later, Sweeney gave Exeter the lead when he nodded home a corner at the back post. Notts’ troubles were doubled shortly afterwards when, after Thomas had been dispossessed in midfield, Hiram Boateng had the space to make progress down the left before crossing the ball for Stockley to turn it home at the back post. Hemmings rolled an effort against the post by way of response, capitalising on a Neil Moxey mistake. Soon after Boateng had sent a fierce strike over the bar from the edge of the area, the Magpies did halve the deficit – and in emphatic style. The goal came as a result of Boldewijn swapping wings with Thomas, allowing the Dutchman to cut inside on his right foot and shape a shot off the underside of the bar and into the net shortly before the referee called time on the first half.
Kewell made his first change at the break, swapping Thomas for Jon Stead. The move saw Dennis move out to the right and Hemmings drop slightly deeper. Notts’ first chance of the half went to Dennis, although he was always going to struggle to head home Boldewijn’s corner. He nodded the ball a yard over. Vaughan then entered the book for a foul on Boateng before Fitzsimons was called into his first action of the half, making a superb save to deny Lee Holmes. But, as the resultant corner was swung into the area, Brisley was penalised for handball and Sweeney added his second of the day from the spot. Dennis made way for Lewis Alessandra before Fitzsimons denied Holmes with another excellent save after the winger had beaten Milsom to enter the Magpies area. Sweeney was then given a golden opportunity to seal his hat-trick when Boldewijn was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area after tracking back to defend Dean Moxey’s deep cross. This time, though, the full-back rolled his spotkick wide of the post. Kewell’s final change followed as Oxlade-Chamberlain was replaced by league debutant Will Patching. The former Manchester City midfielder was involved in a move which nearly saw Notts reduce the deficit, Boldewijn eventually floating a cross to the back post and Alessandra nodding the ball just wide. Unfortunately, the next goal went the way of the hosts as Nicky Law ghosted in down the left before teeing up Stockley to guide home his second from eight yards. Kewell was unhappy with a refereeing decision in the build-up to the goal and was sent to the stands for his protestations before play resumed. Boldweijn forced Pym into an excellent save on 83 minutes and Stead found the side-netting on the stretch shortly afterwards. But the Grecians dealt the game’s final blow in stoppage time, centre back Martin nodding the ball home at the back post to make it five.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Martin, Moxey, Woodman (Croll 49), Taylor, Boateng (Martin 78), Tillson, Law, Holmes (Jay 88), Stockley.
Notts County: Fitzsimons, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Patching 68), Brisley, Ward, Milsom, Boldewijn, Hewitt, Vaughan, Thomas (Stead 45), Dennis (Alessandra 58), Hemmings.
Booked: Vaughan, Thomas.