Kevin Nolan made four changes from the team that started the 3-3 draw against Cambridge United last Saturday as Matt Tootle, Carl Dickinson, Terry Hawkridge and Shola Ameobi made way for Nicky Hunt, Dan Jones, Liam Walker and Lewis Alessandra.
After a cagey opening at the Globe Arena, Notts took the lead in the 13th minute. The lively Alessandra pounced on a sloppy pass at the back before putting in a low cross which was swept home at the first attempt by Grant for his 15th goal of a productive season. Andrew Fleming flashed a shot into Ross Fitzsimons’s side-netting for the Shrimps but the Magpies would soon double their lead as Alessandra went from provider to scorer. The attacker slammed a crisp effort beyond Barry Roche from 12 yards for his second goal in as many games after Morecambe failed to clear their lines from a Notts free-kick. Former Magpie Garry Thompson saw a header easily held by Fitzsimons and Fleming again fired wide from distance as Jim Bentley’s side searched for a route back into the game. They twice came close to finding one as the half neared its conclusion, Elliott Osborne bending a shot just wide of the top corner before Adam Campbell turned the ball over at the near post with a first-time finish.
Notts ended the half with their clean sheet in tact, however, and the sides exchanged tentative blows in pursuit of the game’s next goal after the restart. Ryan Yates came closest on 56 minutes, seeing his powerful header brilliantly kept out low down by Morecambe keeper Barry Roche. Campbell had another opportunity to halve the deficit shortly afterwards following a move involving Thompson and Vadaine Oliver. The former Newcastle man could only fire the ball over. That missed opportunity was to prove costly as, moments later, Notts pulled further away from their hosts when Grant made it three. It came after the visitors capitalised once more on their hosts’ sloppy play, Elliott Hewitt stealing possession and playing the ball to Stead, who in turn threaded a pass through for Grant. The loanee did brilliantly to squeeze the ball beyond Roche from a tight angle to bag his second of the day. Nolan’s first change saw Stead and Richard Duffy make way for Alan Smith and Callum Saunders in a move which prompted Hewitt to slot in alongside Shaun Brisley at centre back. The switch did nothing to disrupt Notts’ flow as they made it four following a sustained spell of pressure, Alessandra seeing an initial shot saved before converting the rebound. Pierce Bird was then handed his league debut, replacing Brisley, before Notts pressed for a fifth, Yates lashing over from close range. A clean sheet would have been the perfect late Christmas present but Morecambe substitute Lang had other plans, curling a beauty into the top corner to put the smallest of dents in Notts’ day.
Morecambe: Roche, Lund, Lavelle, Old, McGowan, Kenyon (Lang 66), Fleming, Thompson (Ellison 66), Osborne, Campbell (Jordan 80), Oliver.
Notts County: Fitzsimons, Hunt, Brisley (Bird 87), Duffy (Smith 78), Jones, Walker, Hewitt, Yates, Grant, Stead (Saunders 78), Alessandra.