Kevin Nolan made two changes to the side that drew with Yeovil in midweek. Jon Stead, who limped off in the first half of that game, was replaced by Ameobi, while Elliott Hewitt returned to the side in place of the bench-bound Rob Milsom.
The first action of note saw Matt Tootle booked for a sliding challenge on U’s skipper Tom Lapslie.
A minute later, Mandron struck the side-netting with the match’s first shot of note before, shortly afterwards, Ryan Inniss headed the ball over from a corner. The visitors kept up their pressure and were perhaps the masters of their own downfall when Mandron’s goal-bound header was turned wide by his team-mate Tom Eastman. Ryan Yates blazed a long-range effort over and Ross Fitzsimons collected a tame Mandron effort as the sides continued to exchange blows in pursuit of the game’s opening goal. Shortly after Sammie Szmodics had curled the ball over Notts’ crossbar, it was Colchester keeper Sam Walker’s turn to make an easy save, holding on to Alessandra’s side-footed effort from the edge of the area. Walker made another simple stop from Yates’ dipping strike and the keeper also claimed Jorge Grant’s free-kick as half-time neared. And 0-0 was how it stayed going into the break.
The sides reemerged for the second half unchanged and Notts had claims for handball waved away on 58 minutes when Alessandra’s strike was blocked by a defender in the area. Alessandra’s frustrations were compounded moments later when he was inches away from converting Grant’s low cross from close range. Notts were beginning to dominate, Grant seeing a shot blocked before Carl Dickinson fired the ball straight at Walker on the follow-up. Richard Duffy entered the referee’s notebook for dissent before Ameobi came close to heading Notts into the lead, seeing his deflected effort drop just wide of the post. But, at the resultant corner, Shaun Brisley was bundled over in the area and Ameobi fired the ball into the top-right corner from the spot to make it 1-0 to the Magpies. Ameobi was in the thick of the action once more, seeing yellow for his reaction after being fouled by Ryan Jackson. The Colchester man was also booked for his part in the melee. It was turning into a frantic afternoon and the visitors were given a golden opportunity to restore parity with a penalty of their own after Grant was booked for a shoulder barge on Jackson in the area. Mandron took responsibility for the spot kick but Fitzsimons dived to his left to push the ball away. Nolan’s first change saw Duffy hand Brisley the armband on his way off the field, with Milsom coming on. Elliott Hewitt dropped into the centre of defence. With five minutes to go, Grant danced towards goal and was brought down by Frankie Kent 20 yards out. The defender was booked and Dickinson curled the subsequent free-kick over the bar. Time was ticking away but, with Notts’ lead so slender, anything could still happen. And, so it proved, when substitute Odelusi was played through one-on-one with Fitzsimons before slotting the ball low beyond the helpless keeper. Notts were given five minutes’ added time to find a winner and Yates obliged, nodding the ball over the line after Grant’s corner had been flicked on. A nervy finale followed but Notts held firm to claim all three points.
Notts County: Fitzsimons, Tootle, Duffy (Milsom 82), Brisley, Dickinson, Hawkridge (Jones 92), Yates, Hewitt, Grant, Alessandra (Smith 95), Ameobi.
Booked: Tootle, Duffy, Grant, Ameobi.
Colchester United: Walker, Eastman, Inniss, Kent, Jackson, Lapslie (Odelusi 86), Comley, Wright (Kinsella 92), Vincent-Young (Reid 88), Mandron, Szmodics.
Booked: Kent, Jackson, Mandron.